Take Two: Will the Michigan offense take next step in 2018?
Take Two returns with a daily offering tackling a handful of issues in the college football landscape. Rivals.com National Recruiting Analyst Adam Gorney lays out the situation and then receives takes from Rivals.com National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell and a local expert from the Rivals.com network of team sites.
Michigan’s offense - because of injuries and lack of imagination - was average at best last season as the Wolverines averaged only about 25 points per game (91st in the nation) and threw only nine touchdown passes (tied for 119th). They were 105th in the nation in yards per game.
The top pass-catcher was tight end Sean McKeon. Former five-star receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones only had 22 catches for 277 yards and no receiving touchdowns. In losses to Michigan State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Ohio State and South Carolina, the Wolverines scored 10, 13, 10, 20 and 19, respectively.
But this is a new season and with it comes new hope. There is reason to believe. Ole Miss quarterback transfer Shea Patterson is a dynamic playmaker that Michigan desperately needs. Receiver Tarik Black is back from injury to complement a group that has superstars waiting to break out. The offensive line has question marks, especially at left tackle, but it’s not void of talent.
And the defense should be one of the nation’s best.
After finishing no better than third in the Big Ten East in coach Jim Harbaugh’s first three seasons, with some new assistant coaches in place, is this finally the season Michigan’s offense takes that important next step and helps lead the Wolverines back to national prominence?
FIRST TAKE: CHRIS BALAS, THEWOLVERINE.COM
“Michigan’s issue the last few years hasn’t necessarily been a refusal to open up the offense. It’s been personnel. Iowa transfer Jake Rudock became only the second quarterback in Michigan history to throw for 3,000 yards in a season in 2015 (3,017), but he had a decent line in front of him and experienced receivers in Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson. Wilton Speight, a guy many believed would be a career backup, put up 2,538 yards a year later and threw for 18 touchdowns against only seven picks despite missing time with a shoulder injury.
“U-M lost two quarterbacks and its top receiver (frosh Tarik Black) last season. The receivers were young and the line was subpar. There’s hope that junior Shea Patterson will help this offense realize its potential given all the young talent around it. That will only happen if they find a decent option at left tackle and the line holds up, but there’s no question the passing game should be more innovative with more experienced options.”
SECOND TAKE: MIKE FARRELL, RIVALS.COM
“It better be the year because the Wolverines haven’t finished higher than third in their division since Harbaugh has been there and everybody said it’s because he doesn’t have a quarterback. He has a quarterback now, or at least a guy who a lot of people think is a very good quarterback.
“He has a lot of young talent back on the offense. If the offense doesn’t improve, they’re in trouble. The defense is going to be good, but you definitely need the offense to put up some points and take some pressure off that defense. If the offense doesn’t step up, I don’t think they can expect to finish any higher than they have in the past.”