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Jim Harbaugh invokes George S. Patton in response to criticisms of run-pass ratio

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The Wolverines chose to do what the defense gave them.

Washington v Michigan Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

The Michigan Wolverines have an offensive identity. At least they think they do after back-to-back weeks of 300-plus yards rushing as a team. A physical offensive line and playmaking duo of running backs have been the driving force of the team’s 2-0 start.

Despite this, Michigan fans have wanted to see more from the passing game. The Wolverines have thrown a total of 32 times through two games. Saturday night’s showing from Cade McNamara (7-for-15, 44 yards) did little to inspire confidence this can be a well-balanced offense.

Head coach Jim Harbaugh disagrees with those concerns.

“All those things are at our disposal,” Harbaugh said during his weekly press conference. “Heard a little bit of noise about it. ‘Why so much running? You gotta throw more.’ That kind of thing. There’s a lot of ways to travel. Some people choose to travel on the ground, some people by air. George Patton was able to get his job done on the ground. Neil Armstrong through the air. Last Saturday night, we chose to grind it out on the ground and were also able to get our mission accomplished. Lot of ways to expand. Play action. You want your opponent to know and understand there are multiple ways, and they know, to travel.”

Michigan’s emphasis has been on controlling the game but also converting on its chances and finishing drives. They know that’s what the key to their success will be moving forward in whatever shape that looks like.

“Points per possession, that’s the big one,” Harbaugh said. “Not turning the football over, those are the main factors. Trying to get, as I said, possession is nine-tenths of the law? I think I read that. Making the most out of those possessions is key. Like I said, you’re able to use more time, keep your defense fresh, off the field, that’s a really good consequence, intended consequence, unintended consequence, one of those two things you really could factor. But the main factor is points per possession, points per drive.”

The next chance to get live reps comes against Northern Illinois on Saturday in a noon kickoff from the Big House. The Wolverines are a 27-point favorite per multiple oddsmakers in Vegas.