Michigan Football Preview 2019

Digital Edition

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 59 of 179

58 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2019 FOOTBALL PREVIEW QUARTERBACKS BY JOHN BORTON T he last time Michigan featured a quar- terback returning for a second year of starting, he barely made it to the Big Ten season. But that same quarterback likes senior QB Shea Patterson's chances to win big. Former Wolverine Wilton Speight peeled back the curtain a bit when he returned to Ann Arbor for Pro Day in March. He noted how he expects U-M's quarterbacks to be turned loose more under new offensive co- ordinator Josh Gattis, and he's a fan. "I actually think after talking to people around here, they're moving in that direction with Coach Gattis," Speight said. "I can't wait to watch that. That's going to be super entertaining. Big things for the guys here." Speight — who spent his graduate senior season with UCLA — certainly retains close Michigan ties. He's friends with Patterson and has a brother, redshirt sophomore offen- sive lineman Jess Speight, on the Michigan roster. "The way they recruit here, you could run any offense, as long as you're calling the right plays and letting the quarterback rip it around the field," Speight said. "From ev- erything I've read and everything I've heard … that's the plan. My brother, Jess, seems extremely fired up for what's to come. "When you've got [junior wideout] Dono- van [Peoples-Jones], [redshirt sophomore wideout] Tarik [Black] and the rest of the guys, they're going to do huge things. I'm excited to watch them." He's most energized to watch Patterson operate in the new offense. Speight's con- vinced it will represent a significant step forward. He noted Patterson did a good job a year ago "with what they asked him to do." "I know Shea — and I'm sure Michigan nation — is very excited for the handcuffs to maybe come off, and he can rip it around the field," Speight offered. When those comments were relayed to Patterson himself, he did his darnedest to be diplomatic, noting he did his best in Michi- gan's 2018 offense. Asked specifically about Speight and his comments, Patterson smiled and said: "I love Wilton. He's awesome." Gattis hopes all the quarterbacks love and embrace what they're doing now. They're in an attacking, no-huddle system designed to put extreme pressure on defenses, with abundant run-pass option (RPO) elements. Gattis appreciates their response so far. "They make it so easy," Gattis said. "When you look at all the quarterbacks, it's just the versatility they have, as throwers and runners. They're very smart, they've got quick releases, they can make any throw on the field, they can get the ball out of their hands. "We were very creative this spring with the number of things we asked those guys to do, whether it's put those guys in conflict with a run-pass option or putting them in conflict with quarterback runs. … We were able to get a lot of good stuff done this spring with the development of our quarterbacks. "It's been pretty exciting, just the inven- tory of plays that we have, and things we'll be able to fall back on, once the season comes around." Although redshirt sophomore Dylan Mc- Caffrey and redshirt freshman Joe Milton aren't conceding a thing, once the season comes around, the expectation centers on the senior running the show. Patterson handled everything asked of him last year, and proved to be solid, smart, care- ful with the football and a playmaker when called upon. He went 210-of-325 passing (64.6 per- cent) for 2,600 yards, 22 touchdowns and only seven interceptions. His passing effi- ciency (149.85) ranked No. 22 in the nation and No. 2 in the Big Ten. Patterson also gained 427 yards on the ground, while netting 273 with sacks and other losses removed. He ripped off an 81- yard run along the way, with a pair of touch- down runs posted. He may get even more chances to run the football with the level of RPO elements expected in Michigan's offense. "He's a really smart quarterback," Gattis said of Patterson. "He started understanding and grasping the offense. There were a few times this spring where he got us out of some negative plays by his overall understanding of what the weakness of certain plays would be. "When the defense would blitz one way, he checked us out of some other plays, and really did an unbelievable job of command- PRESEASON ANALYSIS: QUARTERBACKS STARTER ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ Shea Patterson has run a system with plenty of RPO (run-pass option) before. Combine that with new offensive coordina- tor Josh Gattis' aggressive attack, and Pat- terson's own talents and adjustment to Jim Harbaugh's version of Michigan football, and what you get is a starter who will be given ev- ery chance to become a lights-out playmaker in the 2019 football season. DEPTH ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ The 2019 roster whispers at the best quar- terback talent/depth since Tom Brady and Drew Henson were causing a buzz (and some arguments) back in 1999. Not only does red- shirt sophomore Dylan McCaffrey present a future-pro challenge to Patterson (and a very capable backup), redshirt freshman Joe Milton brings exceptional physical tools to a new system. X-FACTOR This one's two-fold, and it goes beyond the quarterbacks themselves. One, how well will Michigan's offense overall adjust to new coordinator Josh Gattis' system, and two, will Michigan's banged-up receivers heal and re- main healthy enough to make it all it can be? OVERALL ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ We're all in on this year's crew of QBs. Not only are they talented, they'll be given every opportunity to steer an offense that's not holding anything back. If Michigan is to take the next step as a team this year, they'll lead the way. QUICK FACTS Position Coach: Ben McDaniels (first year). Returning Starter: Shea Patterson (13 at U-M, 23 overall). Departing Starter: Brandon Peters (4 career starts). Projected New Starter: None. Top Reserves: Dylan McCaffrey, Joe Milton. Wait Until 2020: Cade McNamara. Newcomers: McNamara. Moved In: None. Moved Out: Peters (transferred to Illinois). Rookie Impact: None. Most Improved Player: Milton. Best Pro Prospects: Patterson, McCaffrey. New Blue Deal Michigan's Quarterbacks Shift Gears For The Pro Spread

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