Michigan Football Preview 2019

Digital Edition

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 35 of 179

34 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2019 FOOTBALL PREVIEW BY JOHN BORTON T he setting involved a whiteout. The result — for Michigan fans — proved worthy of a blackout. No proud follower of the Wol- verines figures to haul out their recording of the Oct. 21, 2017 grudge match at Penn State anytime soon — or ever. That is, unless they want to catch an early glimpse of future smiles. There were none that night, at least among the winged-helmeted warriors in Beaver Sta- dium. Avenging an embarrassing blowout at Michigan Stadium a year earlier, No. 2 Penn State overwhelmed the No. 19 Wolverines 42-13. PSU's Saquon Barkley bolted away for 108 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Trace McSorley threw for 282 yards with a TD pass to Barkley (plus he ran for another 76 yards and three scores). DaeSean Hamilton snared six passes for 115 yards — against a unit that finished the year No. 1 nationally in passing defense, giving up just 150.1 yards per game through the air. Meanwhile, Penn State offensive coordi- nator Joe Moorhead sounded the battle cry. ABC sideline reporter Maria Taylor over- heard Moorhead telling his players, "Hey, you guys remember 49-10?" on Penn State's final touchdown drive. He referenced the score from the previous year, when every- thing went Michigan's way. Moorhead recalls something else from that night. He contends new Michigan of- fensive coordinator Josh Gattis — then Penn State's wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator — played a major role in the rout. Moorhead now serves as the head coach at Mississippi State. In an exclusive interview with The Wolverine, Moorhead not only in- sisted Jim Harbaugh scored a major coup with Gattis' arrival, but that he eliminated one former headache. "His expertise was critical to us in the pass game, specifically in the third-down pass game at Penn State," Moorhead recalled. "One specific instance, ironically enough, was when we were playing Michigan." The Nittany Lions had already established the rushing attack in that one, Barkley bolt- ing away for a 69-yard touchdown run on the second play of the contest. Four minutes later, he broke off a 15-yard TD run. But Michigan pushed back with a pair of second-quarter touchdowns, entering the sec- ond half down only 21-13. That's when Mc- Sorley — and Gattis — really went to work. "During the course of the game, we were throwing a bunch of inside fades with our slot receivers, with DaeSean and [tight end] Mike Gesicki, and they were backing off and kind of jumping outside," Moorhead recalled. "We weren't able to get outside of them. "Josh made a suggestion that we should work, now, to an inside slant route, rather than the fade, because the DBs were playing hard over the top. If you look at that film, in the second half, we hit a bunch of inside slant routes to our slots." Gattis had no idea that within two years, he'd be switching sides of the field. He has now, with added responsibility. Harbaugh hoped he would, having long watched the up-and-comer who helped a dominant Ala- bama offense to the national championship game a year ago. Harbaugh liked Gattis so much, he han- dled over the keys to his offense without equivocation. If there's one jaw-dropping, double-take-inducing element to the 2019 Michigan season drawing near, it's the po- tential impact of a no-huddle, up-tempo of- fense and the new guy throwing the levers. "I want every kid to feel like this is their offense," Gattis offered. "This is not about Josh Gattis and what I want. It's not about changing from the year past. Is it different? Yes, it's completely different from what has been run in the past. "I brought this offense in, and I've al- lowed everybody to have a piece of it. But [Harbaugh] does not get involved with the offense. He's given me the freedom, and given me the authority to run it the way we Gattis has a reputation for getting the most out of his players, and Michigan has a tal- ented wide receiving corps for him to work with in year one. PHOTO BY PER KJELDSEN Fast And Furious Josh Gattis And His Offense Mark A Big Change For U-M

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