It’s homecoming week in College Park, and Maryland football is hosting No. 14 Michigan on Saturday.
We talked with Trevor Woods of Michigan’s SB Nation site, Maize n Brew, to get some inside info on the Wolverines ahead of the matchup. We also answered a few of his questions too, and you can find that here.
Is Shea Patterson good? When will Dylan McCaffrey be let loose?
Shea Patterson is good. Patterson was banged up to start the year, which impacted his running ability and likely everything else. Patterson looks much faster now and the read-option QB run is now fully in play for the Wolverines. Patterson has won a handful of big games for Michigan the last two seasons, against Wisconsin, Penn State, and Michigan State last season, and Notre Dame this year. He’s a competitor and is better than a lot of quarterbacks in college football.
Dylan McCaffrey suffered a brutal concussion against Wisconsin but finally got back into a game versus Notre Dame last week and threw a touchdown pass. As far as let loose, though? It could happen against Maryland if Michigan has a substantial lead. Shea Patterson appears to be the bonafide starter at this point, McCaffrey lost out on reps due to his injury and the time on task he didn’t receive wasn’t a positive for his development as a QB. In fact, it’s important for Michigan to blow Maryland out (and any other team they possibly can), McCaffrey needs more reps. If anything was to happen to Shea Patterson, McCaffrey will be the man, and in order to get the job done then, it would be highly beneficial for him to iron out some of the wrinkles in his game now. Next year there will be a quarterback competition between McCaffrey and Joe Milton.
Besides Donovan Peoples-Jones, who are some playmakers on offense to keep an eye out for?
Michigan’s running backs have been an excellent one-two punch for three consecutive games. During this three game stretch Zach Charbonnet and Hassan Haskins have combined for 573 yards and 6 touchdowns. Michigan’s passing game is improving, but the run game aided by Michigan’s offensive line could prove to be a difference maker in this game and each one ahead.
Coming into the season, Michigan’s offensive line was supposed to be the team’s strong suit. Is that still the case?
Early in the season, especially against Wisconsin, the offensive line didn’t play well. Jim Harbaugh noted after the game that running backs need holes to run through and that Shea Patterson is a tough quarterback but he needs to be protected better and given a chance back there. Since that loss, which was by far the worse of the two they’ve had this season, the offensive line had steadily improved, or reached a level that was there coming into the season. Yes, I do believe the o-line of Michigan’s is a strong suit.
Any explanation for the team’s early season struggles? Has Michigan turned a corner with the win against Notre Dame and recent performances?
Something changed after the Wisconsin loss. They changed the way the practiced, the way they prepared. Jim Harbaugh said the team needed to hustle more, be more physical. Harbaugh challenged the team. Combine the team not playing as physical enough early on with a new scheme under offensive coordinator Josh Gattis, those variables are what I believe held the team back. Michigan looked like they turned the corner against Penn State. After trailing 21-0, they marched back and narrowly lost 28-21. I called it a moral victory afterward, and felt they ended up playing a really good game, just made a few mistakes and didn’t get off to a fast enough start on either side of the ball. I felt Michigan would play well against Notre Dame when a high amount of pundits said the team had nothing left to play for this season. Michigan is playing their best football of the season right now, we’ll see if it continues or if it’s short lived.
What is your take on the beef between Mike Locksley and Josh Gattis?
I don’t think these two men dislike each other, but they had a spirited exchange and back and forth through the media before the season began.
Gattis clearly thinks his game-plans and suggestions were important during Alabama’s run to the College Football Playoff. Locksley believes his decision-making and play-calling trump any suggestion or game-plan Gattis had.
Gattis is now calling plays, Locksley is a head coach, their teams are facing one another on Saturday. My take is this is a good story-line and one to remember during the game. Both offenses are going to want to put up as many points as humanly possible.
Prediction time: Who wins this one and how?
Michigan wins this one with an emphasis on running the football but still trying to create consistency in the vertical passing game. Michigan’s defense will have a good game and the combined effort will lead to a final score somewhere around 58-10.
Thanks again to Trevor for taking the time here. Be sure to check out Maize n Brew for everything Michigan and follow the site on Twitter too.