Why Harbaugh Named Shea Patterson the Starter So Early

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Why Harbaugh Named Shea Patterson the Starter So Early

Football

Why Harbaugh Named Shea Patterson the Starter So Early

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — It may have surprised no one that Shea Patterson was named Michigan’s starting quarterback. However, it should surprise everyone that not only was he named the starter so early, but that Jim Harbaugh of all people was open about it.

Harbaugh notoriously has been tight-lipped about who his starting quarterback would be. It was a foregone conclusion that Jake Rudock would win the job in 2015. In 2016, many expected John O’Korn to be named the starter, but Speight ended up taking the field against Hawaii, and never relinquished save for injury. In 2017, despite Speight returning, Harbaugh demurred again, not naming a starter until Speight took the field against Florida.

But what makes Shea Patterson, the former five-star transfer from Ole Miss, different?

Harbaugh says that in fall camp this year, he saw everything he needed to see from the third-year signal caller.

“Shea Patterson – he’s really been good,” Harbaugh said. “He’s really been intense and focuses each day of practice. I expect that out of a quarterback. You expect that out of somebody that plays that position. Expect that from all players. But his level of focus and intensity during practice and execution has been really good. So, yeah – felt like he was the one playing the best and gives our team the best chance to win.”

Patterson presents something of a challenge to defenses, because he does have the ability to use his feet as much as his arm.

Not to be confused with a dual-threat quarterback — as Patterson ran a variation of the Air Raid in Oxford — he more so keeps plays alive with his scrambling ability when the pocket breaks down. While that also presents other challenges for the offensive line and the receivers downfield, it can be a significant advantage for Michigan, who struggled with both the aforementioned units a year ago.

Harbaugh, a former quarterback himself, explained how it works for a quarterback like Patterson. Of course, the optimal situation is for him to drop back, find a receiver, and complete a pass, but given that football isn’t that linear, and he has that extra capability, there’s more that goes into it than just — run.

“You drop back in the pocket, you go through the progression, and there’s an internal clock where you become the checkdown,” Harbaugh said. “You become, start by finding the quiet spot in the pocket. Use your mobility to do that. And sometimes it becomes necessary to escape the pocket. He’s got the ability to do that. Different things can happen to make a quarterback escape the pocket. Receiver could fall down or probably be covered. A block maybe beat up front. Several ways to get to that, where you have to leave the pocket. But the progression is to drop back, go through your progression, while you’re going through your progression, moving in the pocket. Finding the quiet spot. Maybe find it necessary to leave the pocket.”

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