Leg cramps, turnovers spoil Patterson's Michigan debut

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson is tackled by Notre Dame linebacker Te'von Coney (4) in the fourth quarter.

South Bend, Ind. — This was not even close to how Shea Patterson envisioned Michigan’s performance in his debut as starting quarterback.

Patterson, who fought severe cramping late in Michigan’s 24-17 loss at Notre Dame in the season opener Saturday night, missed several plays in the fourth quarter but helped pull the Wolverines within a touchdown with 2:18 left in the game.

He was working to lead Michigan to another touchdown drive with 1:48 left, but his fumble ended the Wolverines’ final shot.

“Nobody really wants to start off like that,” Patterson said. “Our defense and special teams put us in really good situations to make something happen. Early on, I took a sack that put us out of field goal range, I threw a careless pick off my back leg, and at the end of the game, ball security. Ball security is huge. I’m going to go back and learn. Learn from the tape starting tonight.”

Patterson was 20 of 30 passing for 227 yards with no touchdowns and an interception.

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“I thought he competed well,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said. “I thought he was doing the things we were asking him to do. For a first time out with his new team, I thought he did a good job.”

Leading Michigan’s possession with 14:03 left in the game, Patterson was in for four plays but after completing a 2-yard pass to Sean McKeon, he had to leave the game. Dylan McCaffrey replaced Patterson, who returned the next series with 5:07 left and led a seven-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that ended with Karan Higdon's 3-yard rushing score.

“Just kind of cramped up, started in my calves and then worked up to my quads and hamstrings and I tried to rush back in there,” Patterson said. “I threw the naked (pass) to Sean and I felt it (spasm) in my legs and I couldn’t really move. I was trying to rush back in the locker room and get an IV and come back out.”

Michigan finished with 307 yards of total offense, including only 58 yards rushing. Still, Patterson sees the possibility of plenty of growth.

“There’s a lot of potential,” he said. “I felt our offensive line did a great job. Receivers went out there and made plays, and running backs Karan and Chris (Evans) had a helluva game. There’s a lot of potential, we’ve just got to learn from it. It’s a long season.”