Michigan backup quarterback Dylan McCaffrey said nothing changes with the offense even if there's a quarterback change. Angelique S. Chengelis, The Detroit News
Ann Arbor — It certainly wasn’t executed flawlessly in Michigan’s season opener, but having two quarterbacks on the field likely will not be a one-game experiment.
And backup quarterback Dylan McCaffrey is happy new offensive coordinator Josh Gattis has found a way to work this in.
“The two-quarterback system, I obviously like it, it gets me a chance to get on the field,” McCaffrey said Tuesday night after practice. “I think it can be really effective at times. I definitely think we’ll work on it, and a lot of that is on me.
“I think it’s fun. It’s pretty versatile. I know other teams, it’s tough for people to defend because they don’t know if it’s going to be a double pass. They don’t really know what’s coming. We’ve been practicing that for a good while now. We have our own package for it where the two of us go in at the same time. Ever since summer it’s been kind of in the works. First, I didn’t know if it was going to happen. I was really excited it did.”
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh thought both quarterbacks played well in the opener.
Starter Shea Patterson and McCaffrey were on the field together, particularly in the third series in the third quarter, and McCaffrey caught a 1-yard pass from Patterson in the first quarter.
In the win over Middle Tennessee State, McCaffrey had 42 yards on eight carries and had a touchdown. He was 2-for-2 for 17 yards. Patterson threw for 203 yards and three touchdowns and also had 28 yards rushing. They both, however, had issues with ball security.
“Great to see him get in there and make big plays as well,” Harbaugh said of McCaffrey. “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, 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.”
Patterson has returned as the Wolverines’ starter for the second straight season, and McCaffrey is in the backup role again. They are competitive with each other in practice, but they’re equally supportive of each other.
“At this point in the season, you really gotta be working with each other,” McCaffrey said. I support Shea with everything I got because right now, everyone in this building, everyone in this program wants to win football games. I know he wants that just as much as anyone. He comes here, he grinds every single day. That’s good to see. I’m trying to prepare just in case something happens or they call my number, and I know he’s doing the same. Right now it’s very supportive because everyone here just wants to win football games.”
Supportive, yes, but also still competitive. That never changes.
“The whole room is competitive, however, especially during the season it’s a lot more like, you’re talking things through,” McCaffrey said. “You’re not arguing, you’re not saying, ‘I threw this better than you.’ We all have the same mission. We’re all trying to stick to that.
"Whoever is in there, we have a specific way of executing each play and if you’re not in that specific play you’re on the sideline watching it and going through what you would do mentally. We’re all trying to do that, and if someone varies a little bit, we talk it through. It’s nothing harsh.”
Michigan’s quarterbacks are working with first-year position coach Ben McDaniels, and he has received high marks from Patterson and McCaffrey.
“He helped simplify defenses and our own offense in a way that makes sense to us,” McCaffrey said. “The way he explains it is a lot easier. He keeps us relaxed. The benefits of everything he’s given us is going to multiply every day in the future.”
With Gattis installing the no-huddle spread, heads could have been spinning in the spring and even during camp. McDaniels helped ease the transition for the quarterbacks, but McCaffrey said the fact the offensive players were all in from the start made the change that much smoother.
“It was good to see the team respond to this with some energy and some excitement,” he said. “That helped the process a lot. When the morale is high, things come a lot easier. That’s probably for anything you’re trying to learn or pick up. It was awesome to see the response to him coming in, I think really helped everyone get behind the offense and learn it.”
The offense remains a work in progress and had success to varying degrees in the first game. McCaffrey promises there’s much more to come.
“It’s a fun, explosive offense that when we start executing, it can really fire,” he said.
Michigan vs. Army
Kickoff: Saturday, noon, Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor
TV/radio: Fox/950 AM
Records: Both teams 1-0
Line: Michigan by 23