There is a ton of hype surrounding Michigan football quarterback Shea Patterson and rightfully so. But UM needs more than Patterson to beat Notre Dame.
When the Michigan football team invades South Bend next Saturday to face Notre Dame, all eyes from a Wolverines standpoint will be one player: Shea Patterson.
The star quarterback that transferred to Michigan football from Ole Miss was named the starter earlier this week and will make his Wolverines debut against the Fighting Irish, in a renewal of one of college football’s best rivalries.
Patterson, who was the top-ranked quarterback in the 2016 recruiting class, has come to Michigan with plenty of fanfare. Many view him as the missing piece but if the Wolverines do end up beating Notre Dame, it will be about more than just Patterson.
For one, if Michigan is going to win this game, the running game needs to show up. The Wolverines averaged fewer than 100 yards rushing in their five losses last season and running poorly against good teams has been a trend in each of Jim Harbaugh‘s three seasons as head coach.
Certainly, Michigan can win without a running game. But that is only going to make Patterson’s job more difficult. Yet, it’s possible that Patterson throws for close to 300 yards or more and leads the Wolverines to a win that way. Realistically, Michigan football probably only needs to score 20-24 points to win the game. If it gets anywhere close to 30, it has to feel really good about its chances, however, that will be easier said than done.
A big key will be the play of the offensive line. Michigan struggled to run against good teams last season and struggled to pass protect against just about everybody. The Wolverines ranked 110th in the FBS last season in sacks allowed. They also gave up a ton of tackles for loss.
Those two areas will need to be better Saturday. But if the offensive line can protect Patterson and open some holes in the running game, it will be a good sign. The defense also needs to hold up its end of the bargain.
Again, when UM faced its most difficult opponents last season, the defense wasn’t as good. Michigan football allowed 18.3 points per game for the season but more than 25 a game in its five losses. Wisconsin, Penn State, Ohio State and South Carolina all scored 24 points or more against UM.
Part of that was due to a bad offense. But in the Ohio State game, the defense got torn up by a backup quarterback. It didn’t hold up its end of the deal and unless Patterson leads the offense to 30 or 40 Saturday, it will need to be better than it was in big games last season.
It’s easy to understand why so many are excited about Patterson and if he is as good as advertised, he should be the missing piece or one of them anyway. But he can’t win alone and those other areas need to improve as well, or Michigan could find itself on the wrong side of another rivalry game.