Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh praised quarterback Shea Patterson’s accuracy but said it was his gutty performance in the opening season loss to Notre Dame that stood out.
Harbaugh, making his weekly appearance Wednesday morning on the “Jamie and Stoney” show on 97.1 The Ticket, also took a fan question and even requested another from hosts Mike Stone and Jamie Samuelsen.
He said Patterson, who transferred from Ole Miss last December and made his first start for the Wolverines last Saturday night, has pinpoint accuracy, but Harbaugh said his quarterback’s toughness stood out. Patterson had late-game leg cramping and had to leave the game to be administered an IV. Dylan McCaffrey took over the offense until Patterson returned.
“His toughness, he played through the cramp, even rolled out and completed a pass while the calf was cramping in mid-play,” Harbaugh said on the show. “The other thing that stood out, we only had the one penalty on offense, which was the delay of game right after the game. No other pre-snap penalties in terms of false starts or misalignments, plays that were called wrong. You see three or four players having to adjust before the snap.
“I thought everybody that was in on the offensive execution did a good job, especially the quarterback, because that’s one of his jobs, get the plays called, get the ball snapped, get the checks made, get the plays executed. I thought that was another really good thing. The three things that really stood out to me about Shea were his toughness, his accuracy and the way he handled the loud noise and the system in his very first ballgame.”
Patterson was 20-of-30 for 227 yards.
Toward the end of the show, Harbaugh was given a question asked by fans regarding why the offense is so conservative.
“The other questions (Monday) were, ‘Why didn’t we run the ball more?’” Harbaugh said. “It’s interesting. We threw the ball quite a bit in the ballgame (36 attempts). We’re making some strides. Build off the positives and correct the things where we made mistakes and that’s what you do.”
As Stone and Samuelsen were saying their goodbyes, Harbaugh chimed in.
“Any more questions from the fans? They’re all the same, huh?” he said.
Stone said most of the questions were about Harbaugh being 9-9 his last 18 games and his record against rivals.
“What’s the 9-9? What’s that?” Harbaugh said.
That was explained and then the hosts added that his record against rivals, including Ohio State, Michigan State and Notre Dame, is 1-6.
”Not Penn State, though?” Harbaugh said. “On to (Saturday’s opponent) Western Michigan.”
Here are other highlights from Harbaugh’s appearance on the “Jamie and Stoney” show Wednesday morning:
On where this team is after the Notre Dame loss: “The sense is that the team has really looked at what we did, what we didn’t do and learning from it. That’s my sense of the ball club. They’re back, they’re up, they’re at it and they’re on, going about not turning one loss into two. And we’re going to need to because Western Michigan is a formidable team. We watched them this year, watched them last year. Watched them against USC last year, they’re up 21-14 well into the fourth quarter out at (USC). That’s what we’re doing, watching the tape and getting the game plan prepared. We practiced (Tuesday), that was real productive. We’ll be out there today.”
On the struggles of the offensive line: “Several boxes you look at and you check them. … There is improvement there in the offensive line. And then we’ll continue to build on those things. There’s improvement at the wide receiver position. That was another area we were seeking. Not one dropped ball. The accuracy of the quarterback was outstanding, not only the placement but just the real tight throws, getting the ball out. I thought he really played a good game. So several areas where you look at the tape, you check the box of improvement. … Do we want more? Of course, and we’ll expect to get that. That’s where the program is, in the state of attacking it.
On Dylan McCaffrey looking comfortable: “I was just wondering how he was doing. Are you seeing things? How does it feel? I just wanted to know how he felt out there, and he said he was having fun. I thought that was profound. He looked like he was playing like it. That was also really good to see. He threw the ball accurately, on the run, from the pocket. As you said, small sample size, but ran the ball out of the pocket, stepped up in the pocket, secured the ball, did good things. That’s something very good to build on as well.”
On whether the defense is upset over its early-game performance: “You’re accountable. That feeling you get is to be accountable for what you did, what you didn’t do and definitely the penalties that extended drives, you’re accountable for that, and you watch and you look at it and go, ‘Yeah, we should have been off the field’ in all those occasions when they ended up scoring touchdowns. But even with that, we’re thinking, create some chaos. They buckled down and you saw the performance in the second half. Really proud of that. I know we’re capable of that and I feel like all our guys feel like they’re capable of playing great. When you don’t, it hurts. That’s what losses feel like. The action is – be accountable for what you did and didn’t do and learn from it.”
Any sense of returning players of stopping the “avalanche” after four straight losses: “You feel like you just want to come back in as soon as possible and make darn sure it doesn’t happen again, that’s the mindset.”