Think of the top contenders over the last several seasons in college football. The Clemsons, Alabamas, LSUs, Ohio States and Oklahomas of the world all have one thing in common: elite quarterback play.
The perfect example of that is this reigning National Champion LSU Tigers (insert classic Ed Orgeron ‘Go Tigers’ here). Before the championship run, the first three seasons of the Orgeron tenure at LSU had records to end the season like that of the Michigan Wolverines under Jim Harbaugh. The Tigers went 8-4 in 2016, 9-4 in 2017, and 10-3 in 2018.
So what changed to make them a playoff and title contender? Joe Burrow happened. Burrow had one of the greatest collegiate seasons of all-time last season: 5,671 yards, 60 TD’s and 76.3 percent completion on 527 attempts. Numbers like that don’t come around often, and Burrow earned the Heisman trophy because of it.
Go to Clemson and watch Trevor Lawrence and DeShaun Watson own their championship runs. Alabama, of course, has their recent QB success with Tua Tagovailoa. Then, Oklahoma had back-to-back Heisman’s and first-overall selections with Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray. And Michigan knows all too well the talented QB’s that the Buckeyes have boasted in the last several seasons.
These are the teams that have owned the College Football Playoff up to this point, and quarterback play is an obvious trend among them. Where has that been at Michigan? That’s exactly the issue according to Adam Rittenberg of ESPN+:
A good-but-not-good-enough stretch under coach Jim Harbaugh underscores Michigan’s glaring need for an elite quarterback. While Ohio State and Penn State are producing record-setting players, Michigan is still searching for a superstar under center.
Under Jim Harbaugh, who came into in Ann Arbor as a quarterback guru, Michigan has yet to secure a five-star quarterback commitment. J.J. McCarthy is on the way, the five-star in the class of 2021, but he isn’t quite a consensus five-star with ESPN and 247sports having him ranked as a four-star talent. The good news is he is the highest-rated quarterback Harbaugh has convinced to come to Michigan to this point.
While recruiting the most important position on the field hasn’t been the greatest success in the Harbaugh era, he has brought in some impressive transfers in his time. Jake Rudock and Shea Patterson were both good (not great) quarterbacks at Michigan. The issue is Rudock was built in Iowa, and Patterson didn’t show much development from behind center in the offseason he had as a returning starting quarterback.
Along with the struggle to develop the talent behind center, the Wolverines have had an anemic offense with extremely outdated system at the beginning of the Harbaugh era with guys like Pep Hamilton and Tim Drevno. A new-look Michigan offense showed flashes in 2019 under Josh Gattis, but there is still a lot of work to come if they want to be in the upper echelon of college football offenses.
Like Patterson and Rudock the future of the position is looking good, but not great going forward at Michigan as they come in at No. 24 in Rittenberg’s future quarterback rankings. the difficulty is that there is no clear-cut front-runner for the Wolverines in 2020. Dylan McCaffrey and Joe Milton were those alleged to be competing for the job, but offensive coordinator Josh Gattis just threw sophomore quarterback Cade McNamara’s name into the hat. Milton has recently been praised by former Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner, and scouts love his arm strength and abilities. Meanwhile. McCaffrey was in a neck-and-neck battle with Patterson all of last season and even got the nod over him a couple of time last season before going down with a concussion after taking a huge hit against Wisconsin.
Only time will tell what is next behind center in Ann Arbor, but if Harbaugh wants all of the narratives to change; and do so quickly, he needs elite quarterback play.
Josh Gattis says Nico Collins a has “big-time future”
Many were surprised when junior wideout Nico Collins made the announcement that he would be returning for his senior season at Michigan, and Gattis wants to reward him for it.
In a virtual press conference on Thursday, Gattis spoke very highly of the returning wide receiver:
“I couldn’t be more excited about who he is as a player, as a young man, and as a leader. Big-time future. Big-time future for Nico Collins... I firmly believe, is one of the best receivers in all of college football and when you look at it statistically, his numbers match up there.”
Collins was the most impressive offensive specimen on the field last season for Michigan. Ronnie Bell slightly outplayed him in receiving yards and receptions, but the much bigger weapon was Collins who brought in seven touchdowns and averaged 19.7 yards per reception in his junior year. In the second season of the Gattis offense, we shall see if Michigan can get the most out of their ‘big-time’ talent.
- The final two episodes of The Last Dance docuseries aired last night on ESPN, you can catch all ten parts on the ESPN app.
- NASCAR returned to action on Sunday at Darlington, and Kevin Harvick came out victorious in a successful event.
- Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson toppled Matthew Wolff and Rickie Fowler in the first televised golf outing since the pandemic began. The McIlroy-Johnson combo donated their 1.85 million dollar earnings to the American Nurses Foundation.