Shea Patterson vs. Notre Dame Defense
Try having a conversation about this game or about Michigan football in general without talking about Shea Patterson. You can’t do it.
After transferring from Ole Miss, Patterson became one of the most talked about players on Michigan’s roster. The main reason for this is the quarterbacks who immediately preceded him in Ann Arbor. They were flat out bad and seemed to weigh the team down. Michigan’s defense is regarded as one of the best in the country, and Patterson is viewed as the missing piece. Time will tell if that is the case.
Containing Patterson will take a team effort. Notre Dame’s front seven will need to consistently generate a pass rush — something that should be achievable against Michigan’s offensive line. While doing so, they have to be disciplined and not lose outside leverage.
Patterson, like most mobile quarterbacks, is dangerous when he is able to break the pocket. He has the speed to scramble for first downs if needed. That threat could cause lapses in coverage down the field and lead to big plays.
The secondary just needs to hold court. If they can force Patterson to hold onto the ball, the pressure should get there. If he manages to escape the initial pressure, which will happen multiple times on Saturday, the defensive backs can’t lose track of Michigan receivers.
It is possible that Clark Lea will choose to spy Patterson in certain situations to dissuade him from running. I don’t expect this strategy to be deployed too frequently, but it may prove to be effective in some spots.