(This story was written by Andrew Birkle)
The 2017 Michigan football season had a shadow casted over it. The Wolverines never had a quarterback and everyone knew it.
That isn’t the case this time around for the Maize and Blue. Former five-star recruit Shea Patterson transferred from Ole Miss this offseason, making Ann Arbor his home. Once he was cleared by the NCAA to play immediately, the Patterson hype train was off and running.
After one week, the results are somewhat inconclusive. At certain points, Patterson looked composed, accurate and much better than whoever was quarterbacking the 2017 Wolverines. However, for much of the game the Michigan offense was anemic, struggled to move the ball and to convert in the redzone when they got there. Fair or not, the quarterback is going to receive some of the blame when the offense scores just one touchdown and it doesn’t come until late in the fourth quarter.
After reviewing the film, Patterson had three great, big-time plays for the Wolverines, nine bad plays, and 24 good or neutral plays.
In total, Patterson went 20 for 30 with 227 passing yards, zero touchdowns and one interception. Those statistics don’t jump off the page, but Patterson’s 227 passing yards is more than Michigan had in every game in 2017 except against Purdue, when the team passed for 284 yards.
Patterson definitely made some mistakes. Like in the first quarter when he knocked Michigan out of field goal range by running backwards while getting pressured, instead of falling down and taking the sack. He had two turnovers, one of which was a fumble on the final drive, ultimately sealing the game.
He also did some things really well. He looked really strong on rollout throws, especially to his right. His 52-yard pass to sophomore receiver Nico Collins to open up the second half is the type of throw that should excite Michigan fans. In the third quarter, he made a drive-saving play to somehow avoid a blindside sack and nearly picked up a first down.
No Patterson was not the savior, but many of the problems that held Michigan back in 2017 were once again present in the first game of the season in South Bend.
The offensive line struggled mightily against a strong Notre Dame front seven. The Fighting Irish had three sacks, seven tackles for loss and 18 quarterback hurries. That will make life tough for any quarterback.
All things considered, Patterson was good but not great. He probably did enough for Michigan to win in an alternate universe where the defense didn’t give up big plays on third down all night. For his first game in Maize and Blue, Shea Patterson graded out at 75.0 percent. That’s certainly not overwhelming but already an upgrade from last year.