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Roundtable: Quick chat about Shea Patterson

NCAA Football: Mississippi at California Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Ed: Hey, guys. Since the regular season ended a few weeks ago, the news has pretty much been about transfers — first those leaving the program, such as Wilton Speight and Maurice Ways, and then most recently the addition of Ole Miss quarterback transfer Shea Patterson.

Let’s start there. What can Patterson bring to this offense?

Von: Most notably, Patterson brings a potential for the run-pass option (RPO), something that we haven’t seen yet out of a Harbaugh-led Michigan team. Patterson was listed as a pro-style quarterback coming out of high school, but check out the tape at Ole Miss and you see nothing but dual-threat written all over him.

As described in the title above, Patterson does have Johnny Manziel-like traits from back when Manziel was at Texas A&M. His ability to scramble out of the pocket and improvise truly does remind me of Manziel. It’s a special gift to have, because those kind of quarterbacks don’t grow on trees.

Patterson is smaller (6-foot-2) and leaner (203 pounds) than his main competition, Brandon Peters (6-foot-5, 220 pounds), so if there is to be any RPO in next year’s offense it will more than likely be run by Patterson.

That is, if he is eligible to play next year by the NCAA.

Colman: This kid is a playmaker, in parlance of our time. He just makes things happen.

Behind a sketchy offensive line that often forced him to flush the pocket (sounds familiar), Patterson flourished at Ole Miss scrambling around and making plays with his arm and feet. His 2017 rushing stats are in the negative but in just three games as a freshman in 2016 he put up 169 rushing yards which I think is more indicative of his running ability.

Harbaugh wants his quarterbacks to be more in his mold, which means having the ability to bootleg, scramble and throw on the run giving him the ability to call more RPOs and the occasional designed QB run. Patterson has all the above. If you look at Harbaugh’s QB room moving forward, all of the guys (maybe not Kevin Doyle as much?) have these traits to some degree. There are no John Navarre’s here.

NCAA Football: Rutgers at Michigan Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe most importantly though, from reports I’ve read, is the kid has some swagger and is a commanding voice in the locker room and on the field. This is something Brandon Peters has been knocked a bit for as a bit of a quieter guy. By any definition of the position, quarterbacks must be leaders on their team. Some can take a bit of a backseat if there are other great leaders on the offense, but their voice still must be heard and respected. However, the very best QB’s take charge and become the voice that is heard the loudest. Michigan needs that next year, one way or another.

Ed: What seemed like the weakest position on the roster at times in 2017, Michigan has flipped the script at quarterback and there’s a new energy and optimism heading into 2018. What are your initial thoughts on Patterson competing (assuming, for argument’s sake, that he’ll have immediate eligibility) with Brandon Peters and Dylan McCaffrey?

Von: It is great for all parties involved, and anyone who thinks otherwise is just plain wrong.

All these guys have differences in their game, yet all three players mentioned are so damn talented. We have seen it from Peters and Patterson, so those two guys will battle all winter/spring/summer long, but we haven’t seen anything out of McCaffrey. We have, however, heard about the coaching staff raving about McCaffrey on the scout team this year and how much of a team guy he is, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him take a back seat for the next two years. His potential is sky high, but we will more than likely wait for him.

But while we do wait for McCaffrey to get playing time, what he does now behind the scenes will help the incumbent 2018 starting quarterback immediately. You always see him with the other quarterbacks on the sideline during games, helping in any way possible. And you know he will even be pushing for the job when it comes down to it, and he will push those guys further ahead than what they already are.

Bringing in extra competition is fantastic for everyone — even Joe Milton thinks so.

Colman: I had a few fleeting thoughts when the rumors started flying. What if people think Harbaugh is always going to go after transfers? What will that do to future recruiting if kids think that he is going to pull in another guy from somewhere every year? What will it do to the current QB room?

Then I remembered that under Harbaugh, the best players play. That iron sharpens iron. That every position, every year (sometimes during the year) is a competition to see who starts and who backs up. That Harbaugh recruits guys with all of this as an understanding between coach and player.

I also remembered that had Speight played this year and had success he may have been the QB next year and Peters and the rest would still be waiting their turns. I also remembered that Harbaugh was essentially forced to get transfers with the QB room he was left with. Moving forward I don’t see the need for him to go after anymore unless another prized recruit opens the door to coming to Michigan. And then, duh.

The bottom line is that this has strengthened a position group that struggled mightily last year with a guy that has a more than a year of starting experience and was the third best QB in the SEC last year. Harbaugh now has TWO! of the top 10 QBs from the 2016 class and going head-to-head will make both players better.

Peters, McCaffrey and the freshman will get their shots but the competition will now be taken up a notch. This is GREAT for Michigan football. Peters’ father confirmed Brandon is up for the challenge and said that you could bring in 30 QBs and Brandon wouldn’t go anywhere and be ready for it. You have to love that reaction to this news, and this will be a fun battle to watch unfold.