Where have you gone, Shea Patterson?
A nation turns its lonely eyes to you. Woo, woo, woo.
Maybe Shea Patterson at QB will make Michigan’s offense watchable. But I’m not holding my breath.
— AFC South Champ (@KevinFromDuval) January 1, 2018
If you like lots of points, then boring. If you like defense it is rather exciting: three forced turnovers by Michigan, smothering defense, etc. Peters is OK but he leaves the door wide open for Shea Patterson next year.
— Michael Woody (@woody_michael) January 1, 2018
South Carolina 26, Michigan 19 doesn’t just mean the Big Ten bowl winning streak is toast. It means that, after four months and three quarterbacks, we’re pretty much right back where we started on Planet Harbaugh.
The offensive flag at Michigan is sitting there, on the ground, waiting for someone — Wolverines fans are hoping that Patterson, the transfer from Ole Miss, is that someone — to reach down, pick it up and carry the bugger up the hill.
Brandon Peters couldn’t.
As auditions go, his Monday performance means Peters (20-of-44 passing, zero touchdowns, 2 interceptions in the Outback Bowl) heads into the winter darkness with as many questions as answers.
Granted, it takes a village for a passing game to be this poor, and not all of the Outback miscues were entirely Peters’ fault. Wideout Donovan Peoples-Jones offers, at this point, only brief glimpses of brilliance amid hours of dropped balls and brain cramps. The offensive line still looks better surging forward than while backpedaling to try to protect the pocket.
But that interception in the end zone with 7:44 left in the contest, the blind heave into the corner with a man in his sternum, won’t fly. This offense isn’t strong enough, consistent enough, to produce 75-yard drives that come away with zippo to show for them.
At times, Peters seemed a half-step slower — and several steps less assured — than when we left him in Madison against a better defense (Wisconsin) than what the Gamecocks presented. This thing should have been over, dead and buried, midway through the third quarter.
It wasn’t, largely because Michigan:
a) seemed hell-bent on ending the season as it began against Florida, managing only 1 touchdown out of its first five red-zone trips;
b) netted a total of 10 yards or fewer on eight of its first 13 drives.
And cue the meme of the day:
— Jennifer Morgan (@cupsandcookies) January 1, 2018
Say this for the third quarter, though: It was all kinds of unexpected, given the sumo match of the first 30 minutes that preceded it. South Carolina came in ranked No. 92 in points per drive against FBS teams (1.88), according to BCFToys.com; the Wolverines were No. 86 (1.94). We’d call these offenses mirror images of one another, if the mirror wasn’t already cracked.
So even if we knew what was coming, the shared struggles made for a remarkable, if slightly unwatchable, tandem in the first half: no combined touchdowns, 4 combined field goals, 186 combined yards, 149 combined passing yards, 9 combined first downs, 11 combined punts, 2 for 17 on combined third-down opportunities.
How many more games would Michigan have lost this season if Nordin wasn’t on the team? #GoBlue
— Jeff Nelson (@boldroastrev) January 1, 2018
When we’re talking this much about a kicker, it’s because either said kicker is lousy or the red-zone output is worse.
Again, Monday was the latter.
How can one offense be as bad as Michigan’s has been this season? Without this defense, we’re a 3-5 win team.
— Sporty Spice (@CoopLeModerne) January 1, 2018
@UMichFootball @BSB_Wolverine @WolverineDaily @247Wolverines Call me crazy but I believe U of M is ahead of everyone in college football. If you put Baker Mayfield with this defense, Michigan would be the favorites going away. That’s what Shea Patterson is bringing next season.
— JG (@Det_Playa) January 1, 2018
Other than that, kid, no pressure.
Handoff-and-hope has only so much tread life, and it’s not the kind of tire that wins the Big Ten East race.
If we learned anything from 2017, it’s that Don Brown’s defense, young or old, reloads. If this offense in the fall can meet it halfway there, the Wolverines won’t be talking about the Jim Harbaugh ceiling anymore. They’ll be swimming in it.