The Wolverine

January 2022

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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26 THE WOLVERINE JANUARY 2022 BY JOHN BORTON T hey say a rising tide lifts all ships. The SS Michigan appears to be sailing on very high seas these days. Josh Gattis checks in as the latest Wol- verine covered in national glory. The third-year Michigan offensive coordina- tor garnered the Broyles Award as the top assistant football coach in the nation in the wake of U-M's Big Ten title victory. Gattis, a former co-offensive coordina- tor at Alabama, beat out Baylor OC Jeff Grimes, Oklahoma defensive coordina- tor Jim Knowles, Wake Forest OC Warren Ruggiero and the man Gattis will square off against in the College Football Playoff (CFP) semifinal at the Orange Bowl, Geor- gia DC Dan Lanning, who will continue in that role through the CFP despite taking the head coaching gig at Oregon. Gattis becomes only the second Michi- gan assistant to win the Broyles Award, which was first given out in 1996. Former U-M DC Jim Herrmann captured the rec- ognition in 1997, when his Charles Wood- son-led defense ushered the Wolverines to a national championship. Gattis' status mirrored the incredible one-year change in fortunes for the Wol- verines. Michigan dipped to 2-4 in the COVID-ravaged 2020 season, with major struggles on offense, injuries, quarterback defections and more. Following the early end to the cam- paign, uncertainty surrounded Jim Harbaugh and his coaching staff even remaining in place for 2021. They came back with a vengeance, including U-M's Gattis-led offense. Gattis orchestrated a masterful effort by redshirt freshman quarterback Cade McNamara; a strong, determined of- fensive line; a powerful rushing attack featuring redshirt sophomore tailback Hassan Haskins and freshman counter- part Blake Corum; and a talented group of wide receivers. Together, they fashioned an offense that featured 490 points scored heading into the College Football Playoff, a tally already ranking No. 6 in Michigan football history. They produced the lowest num- ber of negative plays (27) in the nation, and the most snaps involving gains of 50- plus yards (17). The Wolverines head into their show- down with Georgia 13th nationally in scoring offense (37.7 average), 10th in rushing offense (223.8) and 18th in total offense (451.9). They're third nationally in fewest sacks given up (10) and tied for 15th in fewest turnovers (11). The Wolverines built an incredibly bal- anced attack in 2021, but it didn't start out that way. U-M looked extremely run heavy early on, establishing a ground game that eventually churned out 2,910 yards and 39 touchdowns, the latter fig- ure ranking third nationally. Nobody had more runs of 50 or more yards (eight). They did so with some blocking schemes that looked very familiar to for- mer U-M offensive linemen, featuring gap blocking over zone blocking. But Gat- tis and head coach Jim Harbaugh certainly didn't ignore the modern aspects of the game, given their explosive plays. They wound up with 2,965 passing yards head- ing into the playoff contest. Former U-M All-Big Ten offensive lineman Doug Skene felt like this season's offense featured a Bo Schembechler-plus look. "Harbaugh and Gattis had modern- day formations with read-option sets, and you're running read-option stuff," Skene explained, "but the offensive line and tight ends are doing the same thing we did in the late '80s and early '90s, with the gap-down, power blocking that Har- baugh did when he was there, playing for Schembechler." Gattis explained on the "Inside Mich- TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN Josh Gattis Takes The Broyles Award As The Nation's Best Assistant The Wolverines have struck a near-perfect balance in Gattis' third season as offensive coordi- nator, rushing for 2,910 yards through 13 games while passing for 2,965. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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