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Michigan Football 2018 Retrospective: Passing offense continued to struggle

Shea Patterson helped some, but Michigan’s passing offense is still ranked in the bottom half of college football.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Ohio State Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

The Michigan Wolverines passing offense continued to be an issue in 2018.

After a 2017 season where fans saw three different quarterbacks behind center, Shea Patterson came in and was supposed to be the savior of the offense and the start of a new era under Jim Harbaugh. Yet, the Wolverines’ offense was still stagnant at times and played mostly conservative in all their games. Players and coaches alike said the playbook was huge and we hadn’t seen the full force of this offense yet, but we never saw Patterson and the multitude of weapons on offense get completely unleashed.

Michigan ranked 106th in pass attempts per game, averaging just 26 a contest. They also finished 81st in the country in passing yards, an upgrade of just 25 spots from the 108th spot last season. This is unjustifiable after getting a quarterback as talented as Patterson.

Michigan threw for just 2,555 yards this season. Washington State, Ohio State, Alabama and Oklahoma, all top teams, each sat around 4,500 yards passing. This is where fans expected the Michigan offense to rise with Patterson.

Overall, Patterson also had better weapons at Michigan. This Michigan offense was stacked with talent with guys like Nico Collins and Donovan Peoples-Jones leading the receivers. Patterson also had big tight ends Zach Gentry and Sean McKeon. Chris Evans and Karan Higdon were great options out of the backfield as well. But the offense completely revolved around running the ball up the middle rather than throwing the football.

Harbaugh and Pep Hamilton never merged their system to fit the style Patterson plays and the change football is making. Football at both the college and professional level is shifting to a pass-heavy offense. The goal is to create mismatches and run crossing routes by spreading out the field.

Fans saw the damage an offense like this can do when Ohio State put a beat-down on the Wolverines’ No. 1 ranked defense. A high-powered offense built on speed and throwing the football is the system Michigan needs to implement if it has hopes of ever making the playoffs. The conservative play-calling will never lead to a road to the playoffs in today’s college football.