The Wolverine

2018 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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THE WOLVERINE 2018 FOOTBALL PREVIEW ■ 57 starts. Jim will do everything he can to deflect the attention from the players to himself, but that's what a head coach is supposed to do." Jansen recalled a strange dichotomy from his playing days. He insisted it was always clear to him who was going to start at every other position, besides his own. There wasn't any question who looked superior. At his spot, he never took anything for granted. "When it comes to you, you always have this voice in your head that says, I need to do this better," he noted. "I need to work on my drops. I need to work on my punch. I need to work on all these things, so I don't wake up one day and Coach says, 'Hey, Jansen, you're not going to start today.' "That would be worse than death to me." Jansen earned a ringside seat at one classic Michigan quarterback battle, in 1997. In that one, a former preferred walk-on fifth-year senior beat out a redshirt sophomore who eventually earned five Super Bowl champion- ship rings. "If you talk to [then-head coach] Lloyd [Carr], Brian [Griese] had a little bit of game experience," Jansen recalled. "He was a fifth- year guy. There's always something that tips the scales in favor of a guy. "That year, it was his experience that had seen him grow up as a leader. His presence in the huddle was second to none in any huddle I've been a part of. All of those things tipped it. "By the time we kicked off against Colo- rado, it was clear cut. That year, it was going to be Brian." Who it's going to be this year remains to be seen. But Jansen likes Patterson's experience and noted that how well the newcomer adapts to Michigan's terminology — "a completely different language" — playbook and his own teammates will go a long way in determining his chances. "It's a huge deal," Jansen said of team chemistry. "That comes down to leader- ship. Your quarterback has to be a leader. He doesn't have to be the captain, but when you get in that huddle, he's got to be the guy who has the voice. "He's got to be the guy that tells people where to go, when to be there, when to do what. Those guys have to be able to respect that. He has to be able to get after guys as well." Patterson insists he's ready to get after it. He's looking forward to his first leap to touch the banner at The Big House. "I've dreamt of it since I was a little kid," he said. "That will be a day I remember for- ever. That's going to be an awesome day, not only for me but for my family as well." For the Michigan football family, it could be the start of something even bigger. ❏ Patterson Critics Are Quick To Pick At His Résumé Those obsessed with hating Michigan football and celebrating its every stumble wasted no time panning junior transfer quarterback Shea Patterson and his potential impact. Oh, another September Heisman winner, they say. He built his stats against lesser opponents. He didn't fare well against Alabama, or Auburn's starters, or LSU. While it's true that the biggest Ole Miss victory behind Patterson in his 10 starts involved his first game — the 29-28 comeback win at then-No. 8 Texas A&M — it's slightly less than charitable to judge a young quarterback on his first 10 starts, or against an Alabama defense that produced eight 2018 NFL Draft picks. The Crimson Tide pummeled Ole Miss last season, 66-3, with Patterson completing 14 of 29 throws (48.3 percent) for 165 yards with no touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. Contrast that with the efforts of a senior QB from a Big Ten rival against a Nick Saban defense. Michigan State senior quarterback Connor Cook earned the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award in 2015. His line, in a playoff game against the Crimson Tide: 19-of-39 passing (48.7 percent) with no touchdowns, two interceptions and zero points in a 38-0 loss. Patterson connected on 34 of 51 passes (66.7 percent) for 346 yards and two touchdowns in a 44-23 defeat at Auburn, but many of those stats were built after the Tigers had the game well in hand, critics pointed out. On the other hand, here are quarterback totals from some of Michigan's rivals in their first two seasons: • Brian Lewerke, Michigan State: Four games, 31-of-57 passing (54.4 percent) for 381 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. • Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State: Eight games, 40-of-57 passing (70.2 percent) for 565 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. • Alex Hornibrook, Wisconsin: 12 games, 106-of-181 passing (58.6 percent) for 1,262 yards, nine touchdowns and seven interceptions. Combined victories for all of them over Alabama and Auburn during the past two seasons: zero. There's plenty to prove, for any young starting quarterback in the Big Ten. In most cases, Heisman talk is extremely premature. That said, some of the preseason vitriol representing the first serious blitz on Patterson is, at best, strangely obsessive and, at worst, whistling past the graveyard. — John Borton Despite starting just seven times in the 2017 campaign, Patterson threw for four touch- downs or more three times to tie Super Bowl champion Eli Manning's school record. He and Manning are also the only players in school history to throw for two touchdowns of 70 yards or more in the same game; both did so twice. PHOTO COURTESY MISSISSIPPI

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