Jim Harbaugh says Josh Gattis offense 'practically flawless' in Michigan debut

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh had plenty of praise for offensive coordinator Josh Gattis.

Ann Arbor — It was by no means a perfectly executed first game for Michigan in its debut of new coordinator Josh Gattis’ offense, but head coach Jim Harbaugh gave the first-time play-caller high marks.

Michigan defeated Middle Tennessee State, 40-21, and will face Army on Saturday at Michigan Stadium.

“I thought it was really good, practically flawless,” Harbaugh said Monday at his weekly news conference. “Decisive in the play-calling and thought it was really good. He had a clear, clear, concise game. I was impressed.”

Upon hiring Gattis, Harbaugh revealed he would allow his new coordinator to handle the play calls. Harbaugh said he didn’t feel all that different on the sideline for the opener against Middle Tennessee State, despite not being the main play caller. Harbaugh did say in a recent interview with ESPN that he will make suggestions where he sees fit.

“It was still the same focus on knowing what play was being run considering the situations,” Harbaugh said. “I was into it, so it didn’t feel that much different. A little different, but not that much.”

He also thought starting quarterback Shea Patterson and backup Dylan McCaffrey did well in the debut of the offense. Patterson fumbled on the first play of the game, and McCaffrey fumbled out of bounds in the second half.

“Shea was able to make some big plays, get some big chunk yardage throws,” he said. “The ball handling is being addressed, ball security, etc., same with Dylan. Great to see him get in there and make big plays as well. Both really ran the offense very efficiently, so did Joe (Milton) when Joe was in. It was nice to see all three quarterbacks get that work.

“They were accurate and ran the ball well, ran the offense well. Shea was really good against the blitz. That’s the thing defenses will do. They’ll blitz you, test you, (bring) sideline pressure with the corner blitz. They ran a multitude of blitzes. Shea, for the most part, had a really clean game in terms of getting us in the right protections and the right place. There might have been one that could have been better. Same with Dylan, so that was really good.”

The kicker shuffle

Jake Moody and Quinn Nordin have been neck-and-neck for the kicking job since spring practice. Harbaugh and his staff have hashed out a plan to use both kickers that was on display in the season opener.

Moody was 2-for-2 on field goals and Nordin made four extra points.

“All through training camp the kickers were practically dead even,” Harbaugh said. “They were one kick apart, one made field goal apart with the same amount of attempts, over 50 attempts. We decided the plan this past game, and I think it will be going forward this week, as well, was the kicker that was one kick ahead was Jake Moody, so he would kick the first field and we would rotate every field goal between the two kickers, Jake then Quinn, Jake then Quinn, so each one knew if it was a drive who would be making the kick or the extra point.

“Threw one little caveat in there that if it was the field-goal’s kicker turn to kick the field goal on that drive he’d also kick the extra point, but if he had three extra points in a row, that would constitute a field goal and then the other kicker, it would be his turn. I know that sounds kind of confusing, but it actually cleared it up so we knew exactly what kicker would be kicking on each drive, so we wouldn’t have two kickers running out there and two kickers warming up on the net. I would imagine we’ll do the same thing this week.”

Moody’s second field goal from 27 yards came after Nordin made three straight extra-point kicks.


Twitter: @chengelis