Michigan: Biggest concerns with offensive coordinator change
In what might be the most important hire in college football this offseason, Josh Gaddis is under an enormous amount of pressure as Michigan’s new offensive coordinator.
This is Jim Harbaugh’s team, without question. And it’s Jim Harbaugh’s offense, too, or at least it has been. In hiring Gaddis, Harbaugh has said he’s giving him totally autonomy over that side of the ball.
Can we believe him? That’s the big question … and the big concern.
The offense is being trusted to go win the Big Ten for the first time since they shared the title with Iowa in 2004. That’s a long, long time.
Trust, that’s the big word. Especially as the new — or maybe tinkered with — offense gets installed.
“We trust the offense and we trust coach Gattis and our offensive staff and coach Harbaugh,” Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson said. “We just need to go out there and execute. It’s being familiar with what coach Gat wants, and it also helps having all those different weapons on the outside and the running backs and tight ends. You have playmakers all around you getting open, and the O-line doing their job and making it easier.”
Easier should mean better, or least the Wolverines hope so. They have some lofty goals, just like they do every year. This time, though, they’re hoping the end results will be different.
“Of course we want to win the Big Ten,” said Patterson. “Of course we want to beat Ohio State and win the national championship. That’s the ultimate goal. Right now the process is just to take it each day, one day at a time. Our goal is to win every game.”
The new offensive coordinator and the veteran quarterback get attached at the hip in cases like this. To accomplish all they want, they need each other.
“Shea’s playing lights-out right now,” Gaddis said recently. “It just stands out, his playmaking ability, his ball placement, his footwork within the pocket. I’ve been really, really pleased. He’s been playing at a big-time level.
“So, he sets the standard and he really pushes the ball around on our offense, and the other players around him see it. One of the things we talked about going into this camp is accountability, making sure we hold everyone accountable on offense, and they’ve done a really nice job leadership-wise going in.”
Patterson is familiar with what Gaddis wants to accomplish, and that’s a big plus, too. He can pass that wisdom around.
“I’m just going out there and making plays,” Patterson said. “I ran this same offensive scheme at Ole Miss, and I’ve got so many guys out there on the edge, and the wideouts in open space that can play. So, I’m a natural (for it).
“I have the ball in my hands every single snap. It’s my job to own the operation and control the offense. So, I think I can do that to the best of my ability, and I know a lot of guys around me feel the same way.
So, Shea, we shouldn’t be concerned about Gaddis, and the Harbaugh, and all the melding and relationships?
“The sky’s the limit for this offense. It’s speed in space and we’re excited about it.”
We’ll get our first glimpse at the new offense on Saturday night, when the Wolverines host Middle Tennessee at 7:30 p.m. ET (TV: Big Ten Network).