How Different the Michigan Offense Will Be in 2018

jon runyan jr michigan

How Different the Michigan Offense Will Be in 2018

Football

How Different the Michigan Offense Will Be in 2018

ANN ARBOR, Mich — RPO — or the run-pass option — has been something of a popular buzzword in football, due, in large part, to the Philadelphia Eagles success as the NFL franchise used it to win the Super Bowl earlier this year.

Now, that buzzword has made its way to Ann Arbor, where Michigan fans have eagerly awaited to see if that mentality works its way into the Wolverines offense with new quarterback Shea Patterson.

Regardless of whether or not Patterson wins the job under center, Michigan has much more elusive quarterbacks on the roster compared to previous years. Not to say that Wilton Speight or John O’Korn were statues, but with Shea Patterson, Brandon Peters, Dylan McCaffrey and Joe Milton all in the fold, there’s much more dynamism with the feet at the position.

As a result, Michigan has gone from maybe changing things up to definitely.

It’s only been ten days of fall camp thus far, but as fourth-year offensive tackle Jon Runyan Jr. battles for a starting spot outside, he notes how the offense has changed a bit from previous years, and it starts with the quarterback position.

“We kinda have more mobile quarterbacks,” Runyan said. “Obviously putting in an entirely new offense – a lot more reading stuff. And our quarterbacks are able to play really well off that. Shea, Brandon, Joe and Dylan – they’re all pretty mobile guys and they’re able to make any kind of throws. They all get us together, give us confidence in the huddle. And they always make a big play, so it’s really nice having them over there.”

But that’s not all that’s changed.

Michigan has transformed its offense to take advantage of those quarterback skill sets, which affects not just the passing game, but the run game as well. With new offensive line coach Ed Warinner also leading the charge up front, what the Wolverines are doing stylistically should look a bit different from what we had seen in recent years.

Runyan points to the simplification of the offensive line schemes, but on top of that, the credo that the team is going by isn’t that the maize and blue will just confuse you with its many, variable formations. No, instead, they will beat you up front, even if you know what’s coming next.

“Last year in camp, we put in maybe ten offensive runs,” Runyan said. “Day one install. This year, we (put in) maybe two or three. We added two or three every other day. So, really focusing on those two to three plays for two days and then going back to it this week and starting over, we’ve really been able to rep these plays so hard. The defense even knows we’re coming, what’s coming sometimes in plays, and sometimes they’re still not able to stop us.

“I think we’ve slowed things down, take a step back. And we’re able to do really well on certain plays. We’re going to narrow it down even more, figure out what we like against a defense, because, like I said, we’re just focused on playing well against our defense right now to worry about Notre Dame – for the time being.”

That change has, obviously, affected the running game as well.

Third-year running back Chris Evans says that it’s been a necessary change considering who’s under center this year. But, given his personal skill set, it’s something that benefits him, as well.

“I’m a running back – I’m just here to do what they tell me to do,” Evans said. “It’s less 21 personnel (two running backs, one tight end) and downhill running game. It’s more spread out a little bit for the quarterback. That kinda mirrors my game, what I did in high school.”

There have been reports that Michigan is likely to be in shotgun more often than not this upcoming season, and we’re going to have to still play wait-and-see until the Wolverines take the field in earnest on September 1.

And while RPO and more spread elements are expected to be seen on the field, Runyan cautions: don’t expect to see an entirely new offense. Michigan still wants to do the same things overall that it did in previous years under head coach Jim Harbaugh.

It’s more of a stylistic change than a wholesale one.

“I’d call it tweaked – I wouldn’t call it completely different,” Runyan said. “We still have a lot of our same plays, same calls. We have a different kind of style to it, but for the most part, we’re still gonna line up with the fullback, the running back and run power right at you. But we still do have a little flavor on it, too.”

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