Michigan's offense: There's 'a lot more in store'
Ann Arbor — Three games in and on the cusp of Big Ten schedule, it’s difficult to pinpoint just what type of offense Michigan has.
It already is clear that quarterback Shea Patterson is accurate and efficient, having completed just more than 70 percent of his attempts while throwing three touchdowns in each of the last two games. Michigan had a big rushing performance against Western Michigan with 308 yards and Patterson looked sharp last week against SMU.
The 19th-ranked Wolverines (2-1) are preparing to open the Big Ten season at home against Nebraska (0-2) on Saturday. They said the offense has only scratched the surface behind Patterson, the top-ranked quarterback coming out of high school.
“We definitely have a lot more in store,” right guard Michael Onwenu said.
“I can’t divulge that information,” Onwenu said, being cagey.
He said the offense has shown “not even half” of what they’ve installed and suggested the offense has more big playmakers than the Wolverines have shown. With receiver Tarik Black sidelined after breaking his right foot a week before the start of the season, Donovan Peoples-Jones has stepped up and now has four touchdowns.
But Onwenu said there is more to show, including using more of receivers Oliver Martin and Nate Schoenle.
Receiver Grant Perry said he has liked the offense, which is averaging 37 points a game, third-best in the Big Ten, and suggested there will be more.
“I’m sure we’ll open some stuff up for Big Ten play,” Perry said.
And there’s even more improvement Patterson can make.
“I’m excited to see what he’s going to do in the big games in the Big Ten,” Perry said.
Patterson has thrown six touchdown passes and receivers have caught six of seven thrown this season — Dylan McCaffrey threw one to Jake McCurry. Last season, Michigan had nine passing touchdowns including only three by receivers.
“His consistency has gone way up just from Notre Dame to now,” Perry said of Patterson. “He’s getting comfortable with the play calls. The first games are going to be rocky. It’s the first time playing with the team. We’ve gotten a chance to get in a fluid motion with him and we’re moving on and the consistency from each position has gone up.
“Last year there were a lot of balls that were on the fingertips or two yards ahead. We’re connecting those throws now and that’s giving a lot of confidence to Nico (Collins) and Donovan and the rest of us knowing Shea is making the good throws, making the hard throws. It makes us want to be in the right place at the right time.”
As confident as the offensive players have been with the way things have gone this season, particularly where Patterson is concerned, the defensive players have also benefitted.
“We feed off their energy, they feed off our energy,” linebacker Devin Bush said. “For them to do what they’re doing, compared to last year, it’s confidence building. It gives you more, ‘All right, they’ve got our backs.’
“I’m happy Shea is here, and I’m happy Shea is doing what he’s doing, because he’s only us making us better, as well as making our offense better. Shea has a lot of charisma and he brings that to his game. He gets people ready to play for him. That’s what I really like. I know Shea is going to make a play.”
Safety Tyree Kinnel said he appreciates how calm Patterson is during games.
“It looks like it’s slowed down for him,” Kinnel said. “He’s controlling the offense really well. It looks like a new offense to me so he’s doing really well.”
Kinnel said there is more to come from the offense.
“They put more in each week,” he said. “I know they’ll have something now that it’s Big Ten play. They like to do a lot, like put Ambry (Thomas) in. They’ll have a new trick every week hopefully.”
Nebraska at Michigan
Kickoff: Noon Saturday, Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor
Records: Nebraska 0-2, Michigan 2-1
Line: Michigan by 18