Jim Harbaugh plans on same offensive line for Michigan vs. Western
Ann Arbor — Michigan’s offensive linemen, buoyed by the addition of new position coach Ed Warinner earlier this year, spoke all spring and preseason camp about their renewed confidence heading into this season.
The line has been a sore spot for the Wolverines the last several seasons, and this group vowed it would be vastly improved, despite having to replace two starters from a year ago. In Michigan’s season opener at Notre Dame last Saturday, Jon Runyan Jr. was at left tackle, Ben Bredeson at left guard for a third straight season, Cesar Ruiz at center, Mike Onwenu at right guard and Juwann Bushell-Beatty at right tackle.
Michigan gained only 58 yards rushing on 33 carries and quarterback Shea Patterson, making his first start for the Wolverines, was 20-of-30 for 227 yards, had an interception and took three sacks. Notre Dame had six quarterback hurries.
The line play was flawed at times, but Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said Monday he was not anticipating making any personnel changes in the starting five as the team prepares for its home opener against Western Michigan on Saturday.
"I think the way we played this game is the way we will play the next game in the offensive line,” Harbaugh said Monday at his weekly news conference.
Although Patterson frequently appeared to have little breathing room and was under pressure from the Irish defense, Harbaugh said he was pleased overall with pass protection.
“I thought it was improved,” Harbaugh said. “We look at it and there were quite a few boxes that you check and say, ‘Hey, this is improved.’ We’ll continue to get better in that area. It was one of the areas I think we’re improving.”
Harbaugh thought Patterson played well in his debut.
“The thing that popped the most was his accuracy, location of the balls,” Harbaugh said. “He was accurate all game. Thought he managed the game extremely well. There were no penalties offensively. We had the one delay of the game at the start of the second half but no other pre-snap penalties or formation penalties by the offense. I thought that was a real positive.
“First time in a game situation, I thought he ran that extremely well.”
Linebacker and co-captain Devin Bush was sidelined with cramps just before halftime and was able to return to the game. But at the end of the game he was getting treatment on the sideline. Harbaugh was asked Monday if Bush is OK health-wise.
“Yeah, I think so,” Harbaugh said.
Harbaugh had said quarterback Brandon Peters was not 100 percent healthy for the Notre Dame game because he had tweaked a knee. He altered the injury description on Monday.
“I should have said leg,” Harbaugh said. “It wasn’t exactly a knee. It was lower leg. I think it’s something we’re going to be able to manage, address and see how it progresses.”
Praise for McCaffrey
Redshirt freshman Dylan McCaffrey spelled Patterson in the fourth quarter when he left because of leg cramping. McCaffrey was 4-of-6 for 22 yards and looked poised.
Harbaugh said McCaffrey was unflappable in that setting at Notre Dame.
“He was seeing things good,” Harbaugh said. “He’s got that ability to be cool about it, cool under pressure. He threw the ball accurately, as well, from the pocket and on the run. Managed the pocket, stepped up nicely in the pocket. Pulled the zone read, was able to get a few yards that way. Took care of the football.
“Also, was able to run the offense without any missed calls or formation issues, so I thought it was good. Asked him how he was doing, and he said he was enjoying it. He said he was having fun. That part of his makeup is really good.”
Too close to call
Josh Metellus was ejected from the game after a targeting call in the first quarter during Notre Dame’s second drive. The penalty was on third down and gave the Irish a first down to keep alive the drive, which culminated in a touchdown and a 14-0 lead.
Harbaugh was asked if that was the proper call.
“I don’t know if it was the right call,” Harbaugh said. “It was close. It was one of those very close, close plays.”