ESPN college football analyst David Pollack apparently isn’t sold on Michigan being a contender this year.
During the first College GameDay of the year on Saturday, the analysts were asked which one of the teams in the preseason top-10 — Michigan is No. 7 — will be unranked at the end of the year.
“All of us are buying Michigan to be a really good team this year?” Pollack said, chiming into the conversation that included host Rece Davis, and analysts Desmond Howard and Kirk Herbstreit. “(Quarterback) Shea Patterson I legitimately have concerns about him. They lost a ton of talent. I think they’ll be an OK team. I don’t think they’re going to be a top-10 team at the end of the season.”
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh appeared later in the show during a taped conversation and was asked about the offense that first-year coordinator Josh Gattis has installed. Harbaugh raved about Patterson’s progress in the offense, which is similar to what he ran during his two seasons at Ole Miss. Patterson started every game for the 10-3 Wolverines last season.
“The offense will look different,” Harbaugh said. “The major ways it will look different are going to be shotgun, it will be no huddle. Shea’s good at that. He operates really well in the shotgun, and he can run. He can use his legs and he’s got the quick decision making that fits the RPO world.”
Although Harbaugh has said he has given Gattis the keys to the offense, he left open the possibility for calling a play here and there.
“Josh is going to call the plays,” he said. “I’m sure there will be a time if I want to call a play, I’ll make the suggestion. So far I haven’t done that. I’m learning from Josh, and he’s doing a heck of a job.”
Herbstreit said he is more interested in seeing how the Michigan defense under coordinator Don Brown fares this season without ends Rashan Gary and Chase Winovich, cornerback David Long and linebacker Devin Bush.
“Before Michigan needs to worry about Ohio State, they’ve got to worry about just winning games and getting their momentum created because their season ended dreadfully,” Herbstreit said. “Everyone is talking about Josh Gattis and what he brings to the table — and I’m excited to see the combination of Gattis and what he’s learned over the last few years, thinking about the offenses he’s been part of and working with Shea Patterson, as Harbaugh said, he’s made for that kind of system.
“The big question is Don Brown, who we all bow down to as one great minds in the game. On the defensive side their last two games they gave up 62 to Ohio State (one touchdown was on a blocked punt) playing a ton of man and 41 to the Florida Gators. Everybody is going to be studying what Dan Mullen, and Urban Meyer and Ryan Day did last year. Where is Don Brown going to tweak that defense and how much are they going to improve with the loss of guys like Gary, the loss of Winovich, Devin Bush? They lost three alpha-play-maker guys, and now you’ve got to start over, so to speak, with some leadership and a defense that gave up some points. It’s the defense I want to see improve.”
The GameDay crew was asked whether Michigan will finally beat Ohio State. The Buckeyes have won seven straight and 14 of the last 15 against the Wolverines. Michigan last beat Ohio State in 2011 at Michigan Stadium under Brady Hoke.
“I have my barber-shop response, and I have my PC response,” Howard, the 1991 Heisman Trophy winner from Michigan, said. “At this point, you have to wait and see. On paper, they should beat Ohio State, you would think especially with a new coach with Ryan Day, a new quarterback with Justin Fields. But obviously it’s Ohio State, it’s the rivalry. This time, even if he wins, if he wins that game, they’re going to say, ‘Well you didn’t beat Urban Meyer.’ On paper it seems like this should be the year they’re going to beat Ohio State, but now I think we’re at a point where we’re like, wait and see."