The Wolverine

February 2019

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 26 of 75

FEBRUARY 2019 THE WOLVERINE 27 Overall Grade Patterson opened the season with 227 passing yards in a loss at Notre Dame, but he turned it over twice. Both turnovers — an interception on which he was forced to throw off his back foot and a late fourth-quarter fumble as he was being chased from the pocket — were the result of offensive line break- downs. Not surprisingly, he got bet- ter throughout the year as the line improved and became an outstand- ing game manager. Many assumed Patterson would be asked to win games with his arm this year, but this was never an "air raid" offense. He threw 20.7 times on average in three of U-M's biggest games of the year — versus Wiscon- sin, at Michigan State and home to Penn State. All of them were blow- out wins fueled by big plays in the running game with an occasional big passing play thrown in (he averaged just 160 yards per game through the air in those contests). We'll probably see him air it out more in his senior year in the ab- sence of a proven, Karan Higdon- type running back. Numbers To Know After struggling mightily in 2017, U-M's quarterbacks im- proved in almost every major sta- tistical category this past season: Quarterbacks MVP JUNIOR SHEA PATTERSON This is a no-brainer, of course. Patterson was a huge upgrade over what Michigan had at the position a year earlier, and his ability to throw on the run and keep plays alive was a signifi- cant part of the offense. He finished with an even 2,600 yards behind a much-improved of- fensive line that figures to be even better next year. Patterson racked up 22 touchdowns against only seven inter- ceptions, and he also added an element with the read option that proved important in critical situations, including a fourth-down play at Michigan State (for 11 yards and a first down) and an 81-yard run against Wisconsin. Even after sack losses are ac- counted for, he still rushed for 273 yards and 3.6 yards per carry with two touchdowns, and he should continue to get better knowing when to pull and when to give to a running back during his senior season. His leadership and swagger provided a huge boost to the offense. status Of schOlarship players GRADUATED: None ELIGIBILITY REMAINING (YEARS): Shea Patterson (1) Brandon Peters (2) Dylan McCaffrey (3) Joe Milton (4) B+ Shea Patterson PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN Statistic 2018 2017 Completion percentage 64.3 53.5 Touchdown passes 24 9 Interceptions 9 10 Passing yards per game 215.7 171.2 2019 PLAYER TO WATCH DYLAN MCCAFFREY Shea Patter- son is expected to be the starting quarterback as a senior in 2019, but McCaffrey will likely at least give him a run for his money. The latter showed flashes of brilliance as a redshirt freshman in 2018, throwing two touchdowns and no picks in 15 attempts, while also averaging 9.9 yards per carry on 10 touches, including a 44-yard touch- down run against Wisconsin Oct. 13. McCaffrey suffered a broken collar- bone and was lost for the year in the win over the Badgers, but is expected to be ready for the start of the 2019 campaign.

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