ORLANDO, FL - Jim Harbaugh and Nick Saban took to the podium on Tuesday morning as the head coaches of the Michigan Wolverines and Alabama Crimson Tide previewed Wednesday’s Citrus Bowl matchup. Much was said about what both teams bring to the table, but there is a unique storyline in this game featuring the quarterback situation.
Shea Patterson previously played Alabama when he was the starter at Ole Miss and as he said earlier this week, “It didn’t exactly go my way.” Patterson and the Rebels lost that game 66-3 and he went 14-of-29 for 165 yards and two interceptions in the contest. Of course he would transfer to Michigan after that 2017 season and has been mostly good in his time in Ann Arbor.
Both Harbaugh and Saban were asked on Tuesday to evaluate his play.
“Well Shea has been tremendous. He is a great player. Great competitor. Been a tremendous teammate. He has just gotten better and better and better. And he came in really good,” Harbaugh said. “But I think once he got comfortable with his teammates, the new system I think you always saw the growth. You can always see the growth, he’s better today than he was yesterday.
“The competitive edge, that just keeps coming back to me when I talk about Shea or I think about Shea. It’s humility with a competitive edge. As Coach Saban said, Shea can make all the throws. And his accuracy has just gotten better and better. His understanding is at a very high level. He can run, he can get out of the pocket, he can create plays, he can create space, he’s effective both as a runner and the thrower.”
Saban said that he has known Patterson since he was a freshman prospect and the buzz around his recruitment. He believes he has only continued to get better.
“We’ve known Shea since he was a freshman in high school,” Saban said. “He’s one of those guys that came up with a great reputation. I thought he played well when he played at Ole Miss, and I think he’s gotten nothing but better. He’s made a lot of plays this year by extending plays, scrambling, because he is athletic. I think he’s playing in a system now where he’s very well-coached and he’s playing very well for his team.”
Saban and Alabama also complimented Michigan’s offense as a whole, saying that what they do on that side of the ball is starting to resemble a modern collegiate attack.
“On offense, they have a lot of the multiples that a lot of college teams have now in terms of how they attack the entire field,” Saban said. “They’ve got great balance on offense and they’re very physical on special teams and do a very good job in that area of the game as well. I see a team that’s very strong in every area, but I think the No. 1 thing is they play with great intangibles and they’re very well-coached.”
The Vrbo Citrus Bowl between Michigan and Alabama kicks off at 1 p.m. ET from Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida on Wednesday.