Coach Jim Harbaugh: Michigan Wolverines’ football offense hitting stride
By LARRY LAGE
AP Sports Writer
ANN ARBOR — Jim Harbaugh insists Michigan is hitting its stride on offense, apparently seeing what observers outside the program are missing.
The Wolverines were held scoreless for the final three quarters of a 10-3 win over then-No. 14 Iowa and appeared to affirm doubts they can have success with the ball against quality opponents.
No. 16 Michigan (4-1, 2-1) may be able to put together an encouraging performance at Illinois (2-3, 0-1) on Saturday as it did in a 52-0 win over Rutgers a week earlier, but ranked teams are awaiting on the second half of the regular season schedule to provide tougher tests.
The Wolverines have games coming up at No. 10 Penn State, against No. 9 Notre Dame and No. 3 Ohio State along with matchups against rival Michigan State and at Maryland.
To reach their goal of winning the Big Ten title for the first time in 15 years, the margin of error is small and that adds a sense of urgency to improve with the ball under first-year offensive coordinator Josh Gattis.
Harbaugh hailed the hiring of Gattis and raved about the no-huddle, spread offense the former Alabama assistant was going to be in charge of without interference. Gattis began calling plays, for the first time, from the press box before moving to the field for the last two games.
With the coordinator up high and down low, the results have been uneven at best.
Big plays have been few and far between.
Shea Patterson threw a 51-yard pass to Nico Collins on the first play of Michigan’s second drive against Iowa. For the rest of the afternoon, a play wasn’t called to throw deep again or Patterson didn’t have time to go long.
“We just stayed patient and took what they gave us,” Patterson said after the game.