Michigan offense will continue to throw 'body punches'

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Karan Higdon leads Michigan in rushing with 228 yards.

Michigan pass-game coordinator Pep Hamilton said quarterback Shea Patterson has the “it” factor and is pleased with the offensive production three games into the season.

Hamilton appeared Wednesday morning on 97.1 The Ticket’s “Jamie and Stoney” show.

Michigan is 2-1 ranked No. 19 as it prepares to face Nebraska in the Big Ten opener on Saturday at Michigan Stadium.

“I think we’ve made progress each week,” Hamilton told the “Jamie and Stoney” show. “We’ve improved on a weekly basis. I feel like we’re starting to form somewhat of an identity now. From Game 1 to now going into the game against Nebraska on Saturday, we have a better idea of who our playmakers are and what are some of the things we can do well.”

More: Trieu: Michigan gets No. 1 safety in Daxton Hill and impact is far-reaching

More: Shea Patterson 'comfortable,' growing in Michigan offense

Hamilton was asked why, for instance in last week’s game against SMU, the Wolverines tried to run the ball up the middle despite not having much success.

“I think when you think about football, football is the ultimate war of attrition, right?” Hamilton told the show. “I think that (Jim) Harbaugh-coached football teams have always had the philosophy of throwing body punches early in games.

“I would dare to say that started when Coach Harbaugh played here at Michigan for Coach Schembechler. That part of a Coach Harbaugh offense, I don’t think that’s going to change. Everything else comes off of us being able to try and establish the line of scrimmage. Every game we play, we go in with that mentality.”

With the reference to the late legendary Michigan coach Bo Schembechler, Hamilton was asked if this was more of a throw-back approach to offense.

“No, no, I don’t think so at all,” Hamilton said. “At the end of the day, it all comes down to playing great situational football. There are a lot of different ways to move the ball on first and second down. That’s something, obviously, you see in college football today. There are a lot of different ways to get four or five yards on first or second down. It ultimately boils down to, on third down, you want to be in situations where the percentages say you’re going to have a better chance at being successful.

Shea Patterson

“You’ve got to play good in the red zone, you have to be efficient in the red zone and score touchdowns. We’ve done a better job of that this season as well. And then, two-minute offense, all those factor into scoring the ball, and the other stat that’s really important is not turning the ball over.

“I think it’s been encouraging to see that our quarterback has been able to make special plays. He is a playmaker. As a result, our receivers now, they’re always alive. They always have an opportunity to get the ball even when the play gets off-schedule. For us, we are who we are in this regard. We feel like we have playmakers that can make plays both in the passing game and in the run game, but at the end of the day, the University of Michigan is one of the few programs in the country that have the style and the type of players we should physically be able to do things some people just can’t do. That’s our philosophy and that’s coach Harbaugh’s philosophy and it starts with what Coach Harbaugh wants and it’s our jobs as coaches to go out and facilitate that.”

Other highlights from Hamilton on the show:

On what quarterback Shea Patterson brings to the offense: “He’s a playmaker. If you look at some of the plays he’s made outside the pocket, some of those plays, some of the calls were designed quarterback movements, but then there were times he got off-schedule, he had to abort the pocket and you see elite arm talent. Instinctively he can do the things you can’t coach. There are certain things I would like to credit for, say, ‘We worked on that. We been drilling up that spinout move, you’re running to your left and elevate on one foot and throw a dime on the sideline to Oliver Martin,’ but that wouldn’t be the truth. That wouldn’t be the case at all. He has ‘it.’ He has the combination of instincts and talent that you desire in your quarterback, and I think it’s shown on a week-to-week basis you have to account for Shea both in the pocket and outside the pocket. That’s what we desire to have at the quarterback position here.”

On coaching at Michigan: “It’s really one of those things I’m going to say I’ve been fortunate to have had an opportunity to work with so many good coaches and work for so many good franchises and now in my limited college experience to work at a place like the University of Michigan. One of the things my family has enjoyed the most about being here is how important Michigan football is to so many people. So it means a lot to be a part of something that so many people take such pride in, and so it’s our goal as coaches to put our players in the best position to be successful and help our guys realize their full potential. We came here for one reason, and that’s to win a championship, and that’s what we want to get done starting this year.”