After an 8-5 season in 2017, the “fire Harbaugh” birds began to flock, and the program was desperate for a quarterback after seeing the terrible trifecta of Wilton Speight John O’Korn and Brandon Peters at quarterback.
Enter Shea Patterson, a transfer student from Ole Miss who was a former five-star recruit and threw for 2,259 yards, 17 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions in seven games before suffering a season-ending injury.
The hype train for this kid was ridiculous. Fans quickly started referring to him as the “Sheavior” of the program; the young man who was going to take the team to their first College Football Playoff. Unfortunately, his career would never see that kind of success, which begs the question — how will Patterson be remembered for his time at Michigan?
Top Moments 2018
Nothing really jumped off the page as great in Year 1, but Patterson did enough to get the job done against three of the Wolverines’ top conference opponents: Wisconsin, Michigan State and Penn State. That three game stretch was one of the toughest the Wolverines had faced in the Harbaugh-era. Patterson played well with 480 passing yards and 4 touchdowns in the air and 156 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground in those games.
Most of those rushing yards came on one play against Wisconsin where he booked it on a RPO for 80-plus yards.
Then he made the big play against Michigan State and broke the game open on a 75-yard touchdown pass to Donovan Peoples-Jones.
Patterson was making the big plays in some important moments. But still, the pressure was not all on Patterson. The Michigan defense held both Penn State and Michigan State to less than 150 yards offensively in their matchups.
Michigan found itself in the top four heading into Columbus to face Ohio State, and we all know how that went. The Wolverines suffered the most embarrassing loss in program history as one of the top defenses in the land gave up 62 points. The Wolverines kept up for a half (24-19 at halftime), but in the second half they failed to make necessary adjustments on both sides. Patterson went 1-of-7 on the first three drives of the second half, including a costly interception that broke the wheels off the game.
So no College Football Playoffs, but Michigan landed in the Peach Bowl against the Florida Gators. The game had a very similar course as the Ohio State game. It was only a three-point game at halftime (13-10). It only took two poor Michigan possessions for this to get out of hand.
Patterson threw an interception on drive one:
Now trailing by 10, Michigan got the ball back and went three-and-out after a Patterson incompletion and a sack. Florida got the ball again, and scored another touchdown to extend the lead to an insurmountable 17 points. Patterson threw another interception (this time a pick-six) and it was arguably the worst performance in Patterson’s Michigan career.
Michigan would go on to a 10-win season, but the offense was mostly carried by the top-ranked defense in the country. Pep Hamilton’s conservative offense hindered the potential of Patterson and the offense. The Michigan quarterback completed almost 65 percent of his passes but only threw for 2,600 yards in 13 games.
In 2019, Michigan had nowhere near as strong a defense, and the team now needed the offense to perform well in order to win big games.
Top Moments 2019
For the first time, Patterson looked great, like the “Sheavior” he was supposed to be against the Michigan State Spartans. He carved up their secondary with 384 passing yards (the first time he threw more than 300 yards at Michigan) and 4 touchdowns on 72.7 completion percentage, his best statistical game as a Wolverine.
Patterson’s next game was just as great. He tossed for 366 yards and 5 touchdowns against Indiana in the 39-14 rout in Bloomington. Patterson got Nico Collins on a slant that went the distance, and threw a beautiful fade to Donovan Peoples-Jones in the end zone for a spectacular catch.
Watch the recap here:
Worst Moments 2019
The transition into Gattis’ set was slow, as the Wolverines struggled past Army and then were blown out against Wisconsin at Camp Randall. Patterson completed only 43.8 percent of his passes and threw for only 219 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception in that game. He was rattled after taking some big hits due to poor play from the offensive line, but the Wolverines got a horrendous performance out of their starting quarterback. So bad that some people were ready to move on to Dylan McCaffrey.
After the annual beatdown of Rutgers, Patterson completed only 54.3 percent of his passes in the next five games.
Of course, Patterson and the Wolverines would end the season with losses to Ohio State (who Patterson never beat) and Alabama. The senior threw for 538 yards in those two games, but completed only 43.9 percent of his passes and threw more interceptions (3) than touchdowns (2).
Patterson never lived up to the hype he brought with him to Ann Arbor. He was the most talented quarterback Harbaugh has had at Michigan, but did not produce to the likeness of the program or its fans. The Wolverine quarterback helped win some big games as proven above, but was never great in the biggest games (especially against Ohio State). Patterson was a good quarterback who never achieved greatness because of mediocre/poor performance in significant games.