Michigan coaches and players spent the first two days of the Wolverines’ bye week addressing the media at Schembechler Hall. Most notably, Josh Gattis touched on what’s holding his system back, while Don Brown singled out a number of players who impressed him against Army.
This is what we learned this week:
Offensive coordinator Josh Gattis
Gattis confirmed quarterback Shea Patterson has been nursing an oblique injury since the first play of the MTSU game, though he did not mention which oblique Patterson hurt. He did, however, say that it “had no effect.”
After Patterson showed reluctance in throwing the ball in the RPO, questions arose about whether he’s supposed to make a read or hand the ball off by design. Gattis silenced such inquiries, proclaiming, “Nothing is by design. Everything we do has some level of read.”
Gattis didn’t hide from what he feels is preventing his offense from breaking through. “We have to eliminate mistakes on our end,” Michigan’s first-year offensive coordinator said. The Wolverines’ mistakes — eight fumbles (five lost) through three weeks, a barrage of unnecessary penalties and a number of dropped passes — felt far more costly against Army, but Middle Tennessee State scored just as many points off turnovers. It’s something Gattis knows must be corrected.
Gattis mentioned that Michigan is missing “explosive opportunities,” which the Wolverines define as a 12+ yard run or 16+ yard pass.
Riddled with fumbles, Gattis said this this is bye week is a perfect opportunity to “calm” the team. He wants to “get rid of the curse of the fumbles” and noted they haven’t put the ball on the ground much in practice.
Like everybody else on the staff, Gattis has been very impressed with freshman running back Zach Charbonnet. “(Charbonnet) has shown who he is for us. Very consistent, very mature. We weren’t anticipating getting him that many reps,” he said. Gattis admitted he didn’t plan on using Charbonnet as much as he did against Army (33 carries).
Gattis said the decision to go for it on fourth down late in the game was a decision he made with Harbaugh. It’s a scenario they talked through as the drive progressed, and he claims analytics suggested it was the best option.
Gattis reiterated that he’s trying to get McCaffrey in-game reps. He said Michigan can “pick and choose when those times come,” but it remains a priority.
Defensive coordinator Don Brown
Brown began with some high praise for Josh Gattis, raving about his energy and enthusiasm while claiming it’s “really impacted Schembechler Hall.”
Brown was really happy with Jordan Anthony’s performance after Josh Ross was forced out of the game with a “stinger.”
After holding Army to its lowest rushing total since 2015, Brown lauded his defense: “That right there was as good a performance as I’ve been around. … You’re on the brink of failing and you keep finding a way to plug it in.”
Brown said Jordan Glasgow “may be one of the best players in the Big Ten.”
Offensive lineman Cesar Ruiz
Ruiz said the offensive line penalties, namely false starts, aren’t a “lack of focus” because “everyone is locked in.”
A neat nugget here — Ruiz noted that Gattis recruited him while he was still at Penn State. Now their paths cross in Ann Arbor, where Ruiz has really enjoyed the relationship.
Ruiz mentioned that Charbonnet and Ben Mason worked out together all summer, even on days with no team lifts. The two have grown close.
Running back Zach Charbonnet
After having surgery last year, Charbonnet said he took the spring practices to learn the playbook while he recovered. He’s never had another injury that forced him to miss so much time in his football career.
As Ruiz brought up, Charbonnet acknowledged that he’s become really close with Ben Mason. Both have an interest in economics/business, a team-first approach to football and a love for weightlifting.
Wide receiver Tarik Black
Black’s hopes for the offense remain high. “We can go way up from here,” he said on Tuesday. “If you watch the film, there are a lot of plays that we can make going forward. And I think you guys will see — trust me, you’ll see — that this offense is going to be crazy. … I want our play to do the talking for us. And I think moving forward, you guys will see that we are a really good group of receivers and we’re going to work our tails off to do whatever we can to have our team win.”
After suffering two foot fractures at Michigan, Black believes his injuries are a thing of the past. “Now I think I’m out of that phase, just past that and ready to move forward,” he said.