The Wolverine

June July 2018

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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JUNE/JULY 2018 THE WOLVERINE 27   MICHIGAN FOOTBALL of the go-to publications for college football fans for decades, ranks Mich- igan's schedule as the third toughest in the country and second in the Big Ten to Nebraska. Steele reports that U-M's 2018 opponents finished with a 96-57 record in 2017 for a winning percentage of .627. Michigan will also play more teams that finished in the final As- sociated Press poll (six) than anyone else in the country, he noted … and on top of that, U-M has to play its three rivals on the road (Notre Dame Sept. 1, Michigan State Oct. 20 and Ohio State Nov. 24). The Wolverines are 2-12 on the road against those teams over the last 10 years, with one win coming at MSU (2016) and one at Notre Dame (2010). They haven't won on the road in Columbus since 2000. Ohio State, Wisconsin and Michi- gan State were ranked No. 3, No. 7 and No. 9 in ESPN's post-spring top 25, respectively, while Notre Dame checked in at No. 12 and Penn State No. 13. Michigan — which was No. 10 in the countdown — gets both the Badgers and the Nittany Lions at home, which could be imperative. The Wolverines have not beaten a ranked team on the road in 16 at- tempts going back to a 2006 win at Notre Dame, a 47-21 drubbing in head coach Lloyd Carr's last trip to South Bend. — Chris Balas RECRUITING EXPERT COMPARES SHEA PATTERSON TO HEISMAN WINNER AND NO. 1 PICK BAKER MAYFIELD Michigan received a huge boost April 27 when the NCAA officially ruled junior quarterback Shea Patter- son, who transferred from Ole Miss, eligible for the 2018 season. The news that he would be ruled eligible was first reported by Patterson — who was rated as a five-star recruit, and the No. 1 quar- terback and No. 3 overall player in the class of 2016 by — will likely assume the starting quar- terback position this fall for the Wol- verines. "He's tough," national director of recruiting Mike Farrell said. "He's a kid that's going to mix it up — he's not going to back down. "He's a leader for sure. He's defi- nitely the type of guy that's not just a lead by example guy but is a vocal leader. Very rah-rah type of guy, gets the players around him excited." He completed 166 of 260 passes last season for 2,259 yards with 17 touchdowns and nine interceptions in seven games. That's more passing yards and touchdowns than all of Michigan's quarterbacks had in 2017 — in 13 games. While Patterson has received a number of comparisons to former Texas A&M star Johnny Manziel, Far- rell sees Patterson more like former Oklahoma quarterback Baker May- field — the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner who was drafted No. 1 over- all in April by the Cleveland Browns. Mayfield checked in at 6-1 and 215 pounds at this spring's NFL Com- bine, while Michigan lists Patterson at 6-2, 203. Patterson is a dual-threat quarter- back that has a knack for making things happen when the pocket col- lapses. Head coach Jim Harbaugh and the U-M offensive staff should have no problem finding ways to put his talent to good use. "They can use a lot of play-action and get him outside if they want to," Farrell said. "He's not your tradi- tional guy. Andrew Luck was a big- ger version of Shea Patterson at Stan- ford, a mobile guy that could do a lot of different things in a pro set. "I have no doubt that they'll be able to mold the offense around Pat- terson's skills." Being able to escape the rush and extend plays was something Michi- gan signal-callers struggled with at times last year. That should change this fall. Patterson's mobility is a gi- ant plus for U-M's offense. "He can extend the play, and they didn't really have that. That's kind of his forte, being able to scramble and move around the pocket to throw on the run if he needs to," Farrell said. There are some weak spots in Pat- terson's game. He can struggle when left in the pocket too long, Farrell noted, and he doesn't have typical quarterback size. He tore the pos- terior cruciate ligament in his right knee during the first half of a game against LSU last season, forcing him to miss the remainder of the year, so like most mobile quarterbacks, dura- bility can also an issue. He is not going to run the way for- mer Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson did, but he has good legs and can improvise, making plays happen with his strong and accurate arm or on the ground. Patterson has NFL potential and is listed as a first-round selection in a number of 2019 mock drafts, in- cluding as the projected No. 1 overall pick by Expectations will be sky high with Patterson being ruled eligible — as they should be. However, it's impor- tant to remember he is not the cure to all of the problems Michigan's of- fense faced last year. "I know the hype is going to be there," Farrell noted. "He's going to be expected to be the savior and be the guy that comes in and leads them to the Big Ten title. That's what you get with a big-name guy, five-star quarterback who was No. 1 in his class and Jim Harbaugh as his coach, but it depends on the other pieces." — Andrew Vailliencourt DON BROWN: 'WE HAVE A CHANCE' TO BE REALLY GOOD Michigan defensive coordinator Don Brown has boasted two out- standing defenses in his first two seasons in Ann Arbor, and this year's has a chance to be the best one yet. Junior Devin Bush Jr., who was ranked as the No. 1 non-senior inside linebacker for the 2019 NFL Draft by ESPN expert Mel Kiper Jr., should help lead a fast and deep defense this fall. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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