Shea Patterson 'comfortable,' growing in Michigan offense
Ann Arbor — Shea Patterson has been at Michigan since January, has gone through spring practice, preseason camp and the first three games of the season as the starting quarterback.
He feels comfortable in every phase, from quickly adjusting to his new school after transferring from Ole Miss, to easing into new friendships with teammates, and, now, fully embracing Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh’s offense.
Michigan is 2-1 and is preparing for its Big Ten opener Saturday against Nebraska at Michigan Stadium.
Patterson has shown his athleticism and accuracy while completing nearly 71 percent of his passes and thrown six touchdowns.
“A lot of room to grow and a lot to learn,” Patterson said of his growth as a quarterback since arriving at Michigan. “But as far as a comfort level, I’ve never been this comfortable in a system and with this team and these coaches.
“Coming here has gotten me a lot better and more knowledgeable about the game of football.”
Patterson, who made 10 starts at Ole Miss, won the starting job early in camp in a competition with Brandon Peters, Dylan McCaffrey and Joe Milton.
He has called Harbaugh the best coach he has ever been around and explained why Tuesday night after practice.
“Just learning. Learning every single day from him and the coaching staff,” Patterson said. “He’s been around the game of football for so many years. Any type of knowledge, any type of brain picking I can do, it’s what I do every single day.”
Their relationship is completely give and take.
There’s nothing left unsaid,” he said. “If you make a mistake, he’s going to come talk to you, not necessarily yell at you. He’ll tell you, ‘Hey, this is what we’re doing. This is what I need you to do.’”
Harbaugh has managed to get the best from Patterson.
“Your effort and your love of the game, he really brings it out of you because you can see it in him how much he enjoys being around us and coming to practice every day and working and really getting better every day,” Patterson said. “Just being around him and this coaching staff, a lot of my teammates can attest to this that they really harp on getting better.
“There’s this certain feeling you get with coach Harbaugh. You just want to play for him, you want to win for him. You want to win for the program because you can tell it means a lot to him.”
Harbaugh said Patterson’s consistency so far this season has been a boost to the offense.
“Overall, Shea has been seeing the field really well, making accurate throws, on time, getting good protection for the most part,” Harbaugh said Monday. “And the receivers across the board have been catching the football, getting separation, getting open and finishing plays. That’s been a positive”
Patterson shrugged when asked about his high completion percentage. He knows it’s only three games in and the Big Ten season is about to start. He also knows it’s a positive but shared the credit.
“It’s exciting as a whole knowing my offensive line is giving me time to throw the ball in a clean pocket,” he said. “Receivers are going down the field and get open. That’s pretty cool to see. I haven’t really looked at (his personal statistics), but to know we’re progressing like that and getting better every single week as an offense, that’s really cool.”
He began to get comfortable with the offense during the spring facing a defense that he had watched last season while at Ole Miss and has repeatedly praised.
“You’ve got Rashan Gary and Devin Bush and Chase Winovich and all those guys coming at you every play, that’s definitely going to get us better as an offense,” Patterson said. “As the fall went on, just began to get more comfortable as that went on. Now that we’re in the season, I’m really comfortable.”
When asked questions about how he has progressed and grown, Patterson rarely talks about himself when answering. Everything is about the other 10 on offense and how he fits the puzzle.
He was asked how he has improved from the first game through the third.
“As a whole offense we’ve come together and learned how to trust in each other and have faith in each other,” he said. “Just play together. One thing I’ve done is just manage a little bit better. Not make too much out of nothing. Just know (we have) a good defensive unit and special teams to put us in special teams. Limit the turnovers and take care of the football.”
During a recent radio show, Patterson was asked Michigan fans and how tough it was for them after the loss at Notre Dame. He pointed out the loss was by a touchdown and suggested, a la Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, that the fans relax.
“I understand the tradition and expectations that surround this program,” Patterson said. Tuesday. “That’s what it is, the University of Michigan. I’m proud to be part of the team. When I say that, understand that no one’s expectations are bigger than our own here in this football office. We’re just going to continue to get better every single week.”
Nebraska at Michigan
Kickoff: Noon Saturday, Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor
Records: Nebraska 0-2, Michigan 2-1
Line: Michigan by 19