Injured, ineffective or both, Michigan’s quarterbacks have been a major liability for the Wolverines in Jim Harbaugh’s three games coaching against Ohio State.
This year, Michigan has a quarterback who’s likely to be headache, not a help, to the Buckeyes on Saturday. Shea Patterson, a transfer from Mississippi, has been the missing piece for the Wolverines’ offense this year.
Michigan runs the ball twice as much as it throws it, but Patterson has been efficient and gives the Wolverines a lift with his ability to improvise. He has completed 65.9 percent of his passes and thrown 18 touchdown passes with only four interceptions.
“He’s been tremendous in all ways,” Harbaugh said. “Whatever you ask him to do, he executes it and does it at a very high level. … The throws are accurate. The out-of-the-pocket passes are really good, sensational even.”
If he plays that way on Saturday, it’ll be a stark contrast to the way recent Michigan quarterbacks have played against Ohio State. Last year, John O’Korn was thrust into playing because of injuries to others. He completed 17 of 32 passes — missing on some easy ones — for 196 yards with one touchdown and an interception in the Buckeyes’ 31-20 win.
In 2016, Wilton Speight played injured and threw two interceptions, including a pick-six by Malik Hooker in the Buckeyes’ overtime victory. In 2015, Jake Rudock was knocked out of the game on a sack by high school teammate Joey Bosa in Ohio State’s 42-13 rout.
Patterson is playing this year after the NCAA waived its rule requiring transfers to sit out a season because of the violations Mississippi committed, which landed the school on probation.
“He’s a terrific player and a great teammate, too,” Harbaugh said. “He’s always intense and focused at practice but doesn’t make it all about him. We’re lucky, lucky, lucky to have him.”
Winovich’s status unknown
Michigan defensive end Chase Winovich, one of the Wolverines’ emotional leaders and top players, was injured against Indiana and his status is unclear. He injured his shoulder or collarbone when slammed to the turf.
Winovich leads Michigan with 13½ tackles for loss.
“His film speaks for itself,” Ohio State right guard Demetrius Knox said. “He’s an amazing player, as everybody can see. He’s a big part of their team, and it’ll be fun to see if he plays or if someone else can fill that role.”
It would be a blow to Michigan if Winovich can’t play, but Knox said he hopes he does.
“Of course,” he said, explaining that he wants to play Michigan at its best.