Big expectations abound for the Michigan Wolverines with new offensive coordinator Josh Gattis installing a new scheme.
Along with this new scheme comes more opportunities for the quarterback to throw the ball and pick up yards using his legs. Gattis’ pro-spread scheme features an abundance of RPO looks and caters toward the likes of athletic QB’s such as Michigan’s Shea Patterson, Dylan McCaffrey, Joe Milton, and Cade McNamara.
Patterson has the most and only starting experience at QB on the team and during his time at Ole Miss he commanded a spread offense that features RPO. Because of that, it wasn’t surprising to hear Josh Gattis tell the media that Patterson is playing at a high level in camp.
“He’s playing lights out, he really is,” Gattis said. “His play-making ability, his ball placement, his footwork within the pocket, I’ve been really, really pleased. He’s playing at a really big time level so he sets the standard and really pushes the bar high for an offense, and the other players around him see it.”
While Patterson put up good numbers in 2018, he didn’t reach his peak, and according to Gattis, Patterson has improved his craft since last season ended. “To see his development in such a short period of time... obviously he’s been blessed with tremendous play-making ability, you can look at his career throughout, but he’s fine-tuned some things and really became a complete quarterback in my opinion,” Gattis said.
Gattis’ comments come after guard Ben Bredeson said at Big Ten Media Days that Patterson has been in control and taken over, doing the job and being a lot more assertive.
What’s great about this from Michigan’s perspective:
- Patterson is making strides in his second year as a leader. Bredeson went on to say at Big Ten Media Days that Patterson is “acting like the starting quarterback a little bit more” and “acting like he ran the team last year. A little bit more than last year.” The quarterback needs to have the ability to lead and lead by example, and it sounds as if Patterson is doing this with his play and his demeanor as well.
- If Patterson is indeed pushing the bar high, that means he’s setting the tone for a great quarterback competition. Patterson is the odds-on favorite to be the starter, but at the same time head coach Jim Harbaugh said earlier this off-season that Shea can’t just put his feet up and that McCaffrey and Milton will push him. Gattis went on to say on Wednesday that no job is never set in stone and that they’re preparing each quarterback like they’ll be the starter. McCaffrey and Milton will be motivated by this type of meritocracy and the fact that Harbaugh said McCaffrey and Patterson will both see action in games. “Every place that I’ve been over the past few years, multiple quarterbacks have played,” Gattis said. While that should motivate McCaffrey and Milton, it likely is doing the same for Patterson. No QB wants to give up the reigns for even a snap, and you can bet Patterson is trying to make it glaring that he should be on the field as much as possible and gives the team the best chance to win.
- Gattis’ comments about Patterson’s improvement could mean we see a different Shea Patterson in 2019. We’ll see a different Patterson by default because it’s a new year and a new offense, but if his fundamentals have improved and his leadership abilities have come to more of a complete fruition, those are two major thumbs up to dish Patterson’s way. Patterson had a 64.6% completion percentage, passed for 2,600 yards with 22 TD’s and 7 INT’s along with 273 yards rushing and 2 scores. Those are good numbers, but will Patterson’s improvements and the new scheme lead to a sizable uptick in passing and rushing yards?
At the very least, a team wants their likely starting QB to be the one setting the pace and the bar for the others QB’s on the practice field and in the film room, and it sounds like Patterson is doing that. Whether that translates into more on field success in 2019 remains to be seen, and we’re just a few short weeks away from finding out.