A notable change happened during Michigan’s game against Rutgers. The first three games of the season new offensive coordinator Josh Gattis was in the box calling plays. For the tilt against the Scarlet Knights, Gattis patrolled the sideline instead.
While it is a definite change on gameday, the move was something that made the Michigan players comfortable, being able to talk to their coach face to face just like they do each day in practice.
“Coach Gattis is on the sideline every day in practice, so I think it’s just something we’re used to. I really liked it, I think all the other guys liked it too,” quarterback Shea Patterson said.
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh said the change was something he and Gattis discussed throughout the week, and they both had the same idea. “We talked about it last week, just started the conversation and said I was thinking that, and he was thinking that, so let’s do it,” Harbaugh said. “That’s both of our impressions, let’s go that direction.”
The result? A 52-0 Michigan victory, 476 yards on offense, with 335 yards through the air and 141 yards on the ground. The best performance from Michigan’s offense this season.
“It was just better, everything was better face to face,” Harbaugh said. “Me communicating with him, him communicating with the players, players hearing it from him and not going through the box. It was good, obviously it was a good move, glad we did it.”
Gattis appears to be a high energy coach and according to running back Christian Turner, Gattis’ demeanor on the sideline amped things up a bit for the unit. “I think it brought energy, it just made things more personal,” Turner said. “Just him congratulating me after the touchdown showed how we’re all in this together. Just a cool experience cool feeling.”
The Michigan offense has Gattis’ handprints all over it. Gattis brought a new scheme to Michigan, and it only makes sense to let him have important reactions face to face, whether that means coaching a player up or giving them a fist bump. There’s a level of detachment in the pressbox between player and coach, and having Gattis on the sideline has the potential to bolster his relationships with players. “It was a familiar face seeing him down on the sideline there with us, seeing his emotion after plays, whether good or bad,” Turner said. “I think that definitely helped.”
We’ll see if Gattis, Harbaugh, and the Michigan offense can keep playing at a high level, but for one Saturday against Rutgers at The Big House, Gattis presence on the sideline was a definite positive. “He’s always there on the sideline during the week, so just doing the same thing that we do in practice, it felt good, felt good out there,” receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones said.