Whirlybird is the word on Patterson to Peoples-Jones TD strike

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson managed to ditch oncoming Maryland rushers with a whirlybird move on a 34-yard scoring play in the third quarter.

Ann Arbor — With two Maryland defensive players pursuing, Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson spun around and took off.

Patterson found Donovan Peoples-Jones at the Maryland 27-yard line and scored. They were credited with a 34-yard touchdown in Michigan’s 42-21 victory over the Terps on Saturday.

“The one where he did the whirlybird? I love that,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said after the game when asked about Patterson’s move. “That’s just a great instinctive play by Shea. Donovan continues to be that guy, too, that makes a lot of plays. That was a cool play.”

When told Harbaugh’s description, Patterson laughed.

“Whirlybird? Sounds about right,” Patterson said. “Sounds like that might be a good nickname for that.”

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It is an instinctive move, one that hasn’t exactly been taught.

“I don’t practice that,” Patterson said. “I have a quarterback coach out in California, Steve Clarkson, we kind of do some crazy drills to where you get comfortable being uncomfortable. You make plays by instinct. That’s the only time I’ve practiced it.”

Patterson was 19-of-27 for 282 yards and three touchdowns. He had an interception that was a deflection off tight end Zach Gentry’s fingers. This season, Patterson has thrown 10 touchdowns to three interceptions.

That was his highest single-game passing total at Michigan and his third game this season with three touchdown passes. He threw touchdown passes in the Maryland game to receiver Ronnie Bell, fullback Jared Wangler and Peoples-Jones. Patterson has thrown to six different players for scores, including Nico Collins, and tight ends Zach Gentry and Sean McKeon.

Gentry has been a favorite target of Patterson and had seven catches for 112 yards against the Terps. He now has 20 receptions for 306 yards.

“He throws really well from the pocket when he has it, and when he has to escape, he’s got a real knack,” Harbaugh said of Patterson, who transferred last December to Michigan from Ole Miss. “Great peripheral vision or sensation where to be in the pocket. He’s really good when he gets outside of the pocket, really dangerous throwing on the run, seeing the field or running himself. He’s a real weapon. He’s really growing and playing better and better every week.”

A week ago at Northwestern, Patterson directed a late-game touchdown that gave the Wolverines the lead and won the game. He said he felt his most comfortable running the offense in the Maryland game.

“The way our defense was putting us in good position just playing lights out, special teams was playing good, line did a heck of a job protecting tonight and the run game was going,” Patterson said. “Really just opened up everything for me and our offense. “

Karan Higdon, who had 25 carries for 103 yards, said Patterson’s ability to escape pressure and extend plays makes him stand out as a quarterback.

“He’s a dynamic player,” Higdon said. “He makes plays like that time and time again. It’s good to see him make plays like that when things are breaking down. It’s amazing to play with someone like him and I look forward to each and every Saturday him doing something special.”


Twitter: @chengelis