It makes sense. But it doesn’t.

Of course after watching the Wolverines get their teeth kicked in by Wisconsin, Josh Gattis harkened back to the situation he was in at Penn State in 2016. The Lions dropped to 2-2 after a brutal 49-10 loss to, of all teams, Michigan, and the sky was falling. Then, essentially, was the rebirth of Penn State football. A defeat of No. 2 Ohio State, a B1G Championship and a Rose Bowl berth followed that gut punch of a loss to Michigan.

Gattis, in his perfect world, will see history repeat itself. This time, he’s hoping, it’ll be the Wolverines who go on a post-September run for the ages.

“Sometimes adversity is something that you never want to use to bond your guys together, but it’s something that forms a bond,” Gattis said earlier this week. “When you go through the pressure situations, it only makes you tighter. I believe in every single on of our players. And I don’t just believe in them because I’m the offensive coordinator, I believe in them because I’ve seen them.”

Sorry, but I can’t get there. Not with this Michigan team.

Gattis is the common denominator in 2016 Penn State and 2019 Michigan, but as for the other similarities, well, they’re somewhat few and far between. And that’s why I’m not on board with any type of 2016 Penn State turnaround.

Let’s focus on a few of the key differences:

The dudes calling the plays

Gattis is the link between this Michigan team and 2016 Penn State, but as everyone knows, it was Joe Moorhead who was doing the play-calling then. Moorhead, AKA the guy who is now coaching an SEC program and had over a decade of play-calling experience before he got to Penn State. He had a proven system that worked at Georgetown, Akron, UConn and Fordham, which was why an offensive-minded coach in James Franklin hired him.

Here’s a question. Where you would rather work out the kinks as a play-caller — at Georgetown or at Michigan?

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

And look, I was high on Gattis coming into the year. I’m still not completely selling my stock in him, but it’s hard to hear him talk about trusting the process when the small sample size we have of him calling plays is, um, not great.

(Looking back, it’s also probably not the best look that Nick Saban didn’t want to hire Gattis as his first-time play-caller, and Mike Locksley is owning that war of words they had this offseason.)

Michigan’s offense, even with injuries to Donovan Peoples-Jones and Jon Runyan Jr., should not be struggling with space and pace like it has so far.

Oh, what about Zach Charbonnet’s injury? Here’s how I feel about that. It’s probably not a good sign when your play-caller determines that a freshman getting 33 carries is the only path to beating Army at home. It was evident that Charbonnet was the only player who Gattis trusted against Army, and when he wasn’t available against Wisconsin for the vast majority of that game, the wheels fell off.

That’s the troubling thing. Yeah, Penn State’s offense was awful in that 2016 game against Michigan, but at least we saw it put up 39 points on the road against a Power 5 team before that. If not for that Trace McSorley interception against Pitt, it would’ve been a 3-0 team averaging 35 points per game heading into the Michigan matchup.

Speaking of McSorley…

The quarterbacks

I realize we have the benefit of hindsight with this, but give me Trace McSorley over Shea Patterson. And yes, I realize the latter won that head-to-head matchup convincingly last year.

But what from Patterson has made anyone feel confident that he’s capable of running this system? The 5 fumbles? The 55.6% accuracy? The No. 86 quarterback rating in FBS?

There’s a reason that Michigan fans have been calling for Dylan McCaffrey. Patterson was good, not great last year. He was expected to be great this year. That’s because someone with essentially 2 full seasons as a starter is expected to take that next step. At this point, I think Patterson sort of is what he is. Can he still improve? Sure, but for him to go from his 3-game start to an elite quarterback would be asking for too much.

And if he puts the ball on the deck one more time, my goodness, I think Jim Harbaugh might actually combust.

Take 2016 McSorley. At the time, he was in his first season as a starter. He might’ve struggled in those first 4 games, but he was still a 65% passer who averaged 8.1 yards per attempt. And McSorley was still a developing quarterback who was getting some of his first reps reading Power 5 defenses. He was a piece of clay who Moorhead got to mold into a prototypical fit in his system.

I’m still not convinced Patterson can pick up blitzes and make the decisions necessary to actually succeed in this system. Images like this are troubling:

Yikes. His brother can rant against the coaching staff all he wants, but plays like that are on Patterson.

Quarterbacks either have it or they don’t, and after 2 years defending him, I’m finally starting to think Patterson is the latter.

The road to get there

Here’s the thing. Michigan was the preseason B1G favorite because many (myself included) argued that the road to a conference championship finally not going through Urban Meyer was huge for Harbaugh and Co.

Now, though, that road looks much more challenging than it did in the preseason. If Michigan is going to repeat 2016 Penn State and get to Indianapolis, it would have to beat 5 teams who are currently ranked, 4 of whom are in the top 15.

With all due respect to that 2016 Penn State run, the road to get to Indianapolis was much easier. That team’s lone game against a ranked opponent for the rest of the regular season was the legendary matchup with No. 2 Ohio State. I say “legendary” because as a 3-touchdown underdog, the blocked field goal return became one of college football’s iconic plays of the 21st century.

That’s not to say the Lions just took advantage of an easy schedule — the 38-point effort against that loaded Wisconsin defense in the B1G Championship dunks on that theory — but it’d be a different conversation with Michigan if we knew that 7 of the final 8 regular season games were against unranked opponents.

That’s not the case. The only good news is that 4 of Michigan’s 5 games vs. teams currently ranked will be in Ann Arbor … where the Wolverines most recently took Army to double overtime.

Michigan doesn’t have a Saquon Barkley, either

I don’t really have any analysis on that one. Just needed to be said.

That’s why Gattis’ comparisons of 2016 Penn State are more selling point than reality

If I’m being honest, I would be doing exactly what Gattis is by bringing up 2016 Penn State. Why wouldn’t you? It’s a way to calm nerves a program and a fanbase that had sky-high expectations that have gone unmet every week so far. At a time when it seems like a fork in the road, it seems easier to follow someone who has actually been on the right path before, albeit as a receivers coach and not as a play-calling offensive coordinator (big difference there).

I actually give the guy a lot of credit for facing the media this week. A lot of schools neeeeeeeeeever have their coordinators available. Michigan let Gattis address the offensive issues and shed some light on what’s gone wrong in his brief time as a play-caller.

Right now is a critical juncture in Gattis’ rapid rise in the coaching ranks. Despite the 2016 Penn State comp, the teams he’s been a part of actually haven’t had to deal with much adversity in the last few years. He never had to come back from a loss at Alabama and he was part of a pair of Penn State squads that went to New Year’s 6 Bowls.

That’s why Harbaugh rolled the dice on Gattis in the first place. Harbaugh was desperate to get with the times, and Gattis was supposed to be his lucky 7. Gattis was hoping to be to Harbaugh what Moorhead was to Franklin.

I’m not seeing that comp now, and I wouldn’t bet on seeing it by season’s end.