Michigan Football Preview 2019

Digital Edition

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 57 of 179

56 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2019 FOOTBALL PREVIEW reference, he quietly responded to a direction question about it with these words: "They're off." Of the offense itself, he said: "It's night and day. I know we carried over some stuff from last year, but as far as the similarities, there are very few. It's going to be fun." Bathed In Blue Coming back for a second season in maize and blue intensifies the fun and the full appre- ciation of the experience. The Patterson fam- ily has been Michigan fans forever, attending games, living the highs and lows, etc. It's a little different, though, when your son, brother, etc., stands behind center. Sean Patterson and his crew couldn't be more ex- cited to watch a Michigan football season. New offense, old offense, whatever — they know Harbaugh and Co. will get the No. 1 effort out of No. 2. "He's just a football player," Sean Patter- son said. "He proved that last year. He ran something [a pro-style offense] he's never done before. To do the things he did … where everything is foreign, that's what he played through last year. "That's what he was asked to do, and that's what he did. This speed in space is more of what he's used to. If he was asked to play the same offense he played last year, he would have done it and done it well. "Some of the things he does naturally — looking downfield while he's running — this is a little more conducive to it. In the end, he's a football player, he's wearing the Michigan helmet. It doesn't matter if they ran the wish- bone or the wing-T, whatever, he's going to play his best and do whatever the coaches ask him to do." The 2018 season, he said, involved the incredible emotional ups and downs often encompassed by college football. After the opening-week loss at Notre Dame, the criti- cisms naturally flooded in, even following a close defeat in a hostile stadium behind a transplanted QB in a new offense. Many insisted the Wolverines couldn't pos- sibly hold up in the coming gauntlet of versus Wisconsin, at Michigan State and against Penn State in three consecutive games. Those thoughts began to change when Michigan hammered No. 15 Wisconsin, 38-13. Patterson set up U-M's first touchdown in that one, bolting away on an 81-yard run. He got chased down eventually, and that ticked him off, one savvy observer noted. "He was more mad about not finishing it for a touchdown than happy about the long run," Sean Patterson recalled. "That explains him. He's always searching for perfection. Everybody was talking about how fast he looked, and he was mad he didn't finish it. "That's Shea in a nutshell. He doesn't use excuses. You never hear him say, 'I never ran this offense before.'" In the same game, a helmet clipped Pat- terson's finger as he dove into the end zone. "He was so fired up in the huddle, but he was bleeding all over the place," Sean Patter- son said. "One of the linemen pointed it out, and he ended up needing nine stitches. He just gives his heart and soul into everything. "I just watch him and know he's enjoying every moment of this and trying to do every- thing he can to make everybody else happy." He made everybody happy the following week — except for some already riled up Spartans. After linebacker Devin Bush Jr. and other Wolverines engaged in the much- publicized pregame showdown with the arm- in-arm Spartans, tensions were even higher for the rivalry contest. Bush roughed up the MSU logo at mid- field, scuffing it with his cleats. Patterson wasn't on the field at the time, but he got his chance to plunder that sod soon enough. His 79-yard touchdown pass to Donovan Peoples-Jones proved the winning score in Michigan's 21-7 win in East Lansing. "I just know by some of his actions, how emotional and fired up he was," his dad re- called. "He talked to Coach [Don] Brown, and then DPJ scored on the long pass. Just seeing his emotion and his reaction, I know that meant a lot. It was questioned whether we could win a game on the road. "I know that meant a little bit more, be- cause it means so much to the fans and to the rivalry, the history. He's always going to back his guys." They'd already proven it once, after earlier in the season falling behind Northwestern in Evanston, 17-0. Michigan dug out of that hole to escape with a 20-17 win, setting up what eventually became a sweep of the "gauntlet." And then, the ending, one that is driving every Michigan player throughout the offsea- son — especially No. 2. "As the season progressed, there weren't too many teams in college football that won 10 games in a row," Sean Patterson said. "That's a good thing in itself. "However, at Michigan, the Ohio State game is everything to a lot of people. I knew before he even submitted his name for the NFL Draft that he was coming back, to play and try to get better. "What you saw last year was the start of things to come. He's comfortable now. He's Lindy's annual college football preview magazine ranked Patterson as the No. 7 quarterback in the country. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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