Wolverines Josh Uche and Shea Patterson said the team is executing at a high level Angelique S. Chengelis, The Detroit News
College Park, Md. — Michigan was on the verge of a third straight three-and-out when coach Jim Harbaugh decided a little trickery was called for.
On third-and-7, quarterback Shea Patterson connected with Tarik Black on a 6-yard reception, a yard short of the first down. But instead of Will Hart punting, sophomore linebacker Michael Barrett converted his second fake punt of the season.
Barrett ran 14 yards for the first down to the Michigan 41. On the next play, Patterson hit Nico Collins on a 51-yard pass.
“We thought we could get it,” Harbaugh said. “We practiced it now for several weeks. I was waiting for a fourth-and-1, fourth-and-2 on our own side and it was there, so we took advantage of the work we put in and I thought it was a good time to call and it helped us win this game.”
In a double-overtime win over Army, Barrett completed a 7-yard pass to Dax Hill on a fake punt.
During his senior year in high school at Lowndes in Valdosta, Georgia, Barrett completed 63.8 percent of his passes for 1,705 yards and 16 touchdowns against two touchdowns and rushed for 1,195 yards and 13 touchdowns. He gained 7,293 yards during his high school career.
Patterson said he never knows when the fake punt is coming, but freshman receiver Giles Jackson, who scored on a 97-yard return on the opening kickoff said he knew.
“We were saying all week, if it’s that close, we have to go for it, and that’s what we did,” Jackson said.
Linebacker Josh Uche said the offense needed that boost after the consecutive three and outs. Three plays after the fake punt, Michigan took a 21-0 lead on an 8-yard run by Zach Charbonnet.
“That fake punt, we needed it pretty badly,” Uche said. “It kind of killed their spirit.”