The Michigan Wolverines were desperate for their offense to start figuring things out after an abysmal start to the season under new offensive coordinator, Josh Gattis. Even against a team stuck in misery like the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, Michigan had to prove they could efficiently move the ball down the field and score points without turning over the football.
They did just that in a 52-0 blowout victory over Rutgers, who had a tough day against the Wolverines to say the least.
Michigan totaled 476 yards and 28 first downs compared to Rutgers attaining just 152 yards of total offense and only 10 first downs. The Wolverines dominated every facet of the game like we all knew that they should.
The best of the news was that Shea Patterson had one of the better games of his Michigan career against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Saturday. The Wolverines needed Patterson to lead this offense, something he has struggled to do so far in the 2019 season after a flurry of turnovers and inconsistent play from the senior quarterback throughout the first three weeks of the season.
He was sharp on Saturday completing 17 of 23 passing attempts for 276 yards, 4 total touchdowns, and an interception. Patterson’s great performance was the first time any Michigan quarterback has looked comfortable this year in Gattis’ new system.
Patterson looked comfortable and confident for the majority of the game against Rutgers, and it is because his offensive line protected him as they allowed only 1 sack and 0 quarterback hurries in the win.
Michigan’s receivers certainly helped as Ronnie Bell, Donovan Peoples-Jones, and Nico Collins accounted for 12 of Patterson’s 17 completions, and 204 of his 276 passing yards. For the first time this season, it appeared that the Michigan quarterback fully trusted his receivers.
It all started on one of the first plays of the game, and Michigan’s first touchdown in the beat down of Rutgers.
Patterson completed a tough pass to Nico Collins on an out route, and let him do the rest on a big 48-yard touchdown that was taken to the house. Patterson didn’t wait and attempt a ball deep down the field like we have seen him do in the past, leaving a receiver wide open, but instead he took what the defense gave him and it led to a touchdown and a quick lead.
This pass to Donovan Peoples-Jones later in the quarter was an absolute dime. Patterson knew that his guy was better than the defender and he tossed up a beautiful ball towards the sideline and inside the five yard-line. Watch it for yourself:
This isn’t a pass that you attempt unless you have a lot of confidence in your receiver or maybe more importantly, confidence in yourself to make that throw.
Here is another display of composure and assurance as Patterson makes a tough pass on the run to Tarik Black:
Patterson rolled out of the pocket to his left as he made an across-the-body throw with pressure in his face to Black who was streaking towards the sideline. Once again, this was far from an easy throw, but the senior QB made it look easy as he started the day 6 for 7 and over 100 yards of offense early into the second quarter.
Later on this drive came my favorite play of the game from the Michigan quarterback. Essentially, this is a triple-option with an RPO on the goal line. Watch as Patterson doesn’t force the ball in anywhere, but makes the play with his feet and scores his second rushing touchdown of the day:
Patterson wisely keeps the ball on the RPO after faking a hand off to Zach Charbonnet. He rolls out to his right and finds nobody open with great coverage from the Scarlet Knights’ defense. So, he finishes the play off himself by running for an easy touchdown.
The Michigan quarterback’s one major blemish on the day was an interception that he threw mid-way through the third quarter, but it was not a bad idea, just poorly executed.
It’s third down, and Patterson has one-on-one coverage with his biggest receiver, Collins. This was another pass where Patterson trusted his receiver to come down with it. The problem was that he slightly underthrew the football, but nonetheless, Collins still nearly made a play on the ball. Another foot deeper and another foot higher and Collins is coming down with that football and everyone is praising the play. In the right situation (which this was it up by 31 points) it is a risk that Patterson can and should take.
Now, a caveat to this article: Rutgers is a horrible football team. The outcome of this game is exactly what should have happened. We have seen both sides of the football utterly destroy bad football teams and fail to show up against the good teams throughout the entire Jim Harbaugh era. But, this is the first year where the offense is no longer under the control of Harbaugh, and it’s also the first time we have seen a dominating performance this year even though Michigan has played two really bad teams.
We will see if Gattis offense can reverse that trend with a quarterback that’s confidence is building following a solid performance as they head into a matchup with a tough Iowa team at home on Saturday.