Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh discusses the offense after the 10-3 win over Iowa Angelique S. Chengelis, The Detroit News
Ann Arbor — To the outside world, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh did not seem alarmed about his offense.
The Wolverines beat Iowa, 10-3, on Saturday at Michigan Stadium to improve to 4-1, 2-1 Big Ten, but this was their lowest output in offense this season – 267 yards – and they were 3-of-13 on third down. They rushed for 120 yards but still don’t seem to have real consistency in that part of the game. And take away a 51-yard throw from quarterback Shea Patterson to Nico Collins early in the game and they had 13 catches for 96 yards.
Harbaugh said Patterson managed the game well and said this was like so many previous low-scoring, tight games with Iowa.
When asked where the offense can make its biggest strides this next week as it prepares for back-to-back road games against Illinois and Penn State, Harbaugh seemed quite positive when discussing the offense under the direction of first-year coordinator Josh Gattis.
“I really think we’re hitting our stride, I really do,” Harbaugh said. “The way our offense has been practicing, the way they’ve been preparing. I have great faith they’re hitting their stride.”
Harbaugh reiterated that point when asked a similar question.
“I really do think they’re hitting their stride,” he said. “Got great faith in our players and our coaches.”
So in what way does he see them hitting their stride?
“In every way,” Harbaugh said. “That’s what I see.”
The opposing defense absolutely factors into how an offense runs. But when Gattis arrived early this year to install this no-huddle pro-spread, as he called it, he said the offense would be aggressive and would dictate. Michigan didn’t quite fulfill that against Iowa.
Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson said the Wolverines left a lot of points "out there" against Iowa. Angelique S. Chengelis, The Detroit News
“Of course we want to put up big numbers every game,” right tackle Jalen Mayfield said. “Sometimes when you play a quality defense like that it makes you focus on technique. I think we’re going to get back to the drawing board and get back to focusing on ourselves and not worry about what other teams do. If we do that, we’ll be just fine.”
Mayfield said it has taken time for the offense to develop a rhythm.
“It was a brand new offense, a new play-caller, I was a new starter to the group, so we had to find a rhythm and ability to gel together,” he said. “When we went to Wisconsin, we weren’t a full team yet, we weren’t finding our stride like we are kinda now. The change from Wisconsin to this game, we’re playing as a team. There’s no individuals looking to do anything out of the ordinary. We have the same mindset.”
Patterson was 14-of-26 for 147 yards and an interception and took two sacks. He doesn’t think a sluggish performance on offense against Iowa had anything to do with growing pains in Gattis’ offense.
“Not really,” Patterson said. “That’s football, that’s how it goes sometimes. You have days like that. When the defense is playing lights out like that, just stay patient and don’t try to put them in bad situations as far as turnovers and field position. I know we left a lot out here. We’re going to keep working to get better.”
The Wolverines will keep working, he said, and the offense will keep pushing.
“Nobody’s expectations exceed ours on offense and defense,” Patterson said. “Our motto is to be 1-0 each week and attack each day with our best efforts.
“We should be ready to go.”
Twitter: @ chengelis