Jim Harbaugh plays QBs Shea Patterson, Dylan McCaffrey and Joe Milton in win
Jim Harbaugh on Saturday stayed true to his promise to play two quarterbacks. In fact, he went beyond that and used three.
Not only did starter Shea Patterson and backup Dylan McCaffrey see action at quarterback for Michigan in the Wolverines’ 40-21 win over Middle Tennessee, but third-string QB Joe Milton also got in.
Patterson quarterbacked the team for its first 10 drives. When the Wolverines were leading 33-14, McCaffrey came in for two straight drives. He and Patterson even shared the field for a play.
As if that weren’t enough, Milton got to play for two straight possessions late in the game.
Harbaugh had said before the season that he envisioned playing both Patterson and McCaffrey.
“Where it stands right now — and that could change later or not — is I see them both playing. Where it stands right now, I see it as maybe redefining what a starter is. I see that; that’s where it is now. They’re both — you just see that you want to get both on the field.”
The commentators on the game telecast shared more insight about Harbaugh’s decision to play three quarterbacks. They cited the NCAA transfer portal as a motivating force behind the decision. Players — especially quarterbacks — readily transfer these days. Giving playing time to several quarterbacks serves dual purposes: it gives players more reasons to stick with a program, and it gives more experience to quarterbacks on the roster, acting as insurance in case one leaves. The plan makes plenty of sense.
Patterson, a senior, went 17/29 for 203 yards, three touchdowns and 28 rushing yards. McCaffrey, a sophomore, was 2/2 for 17 yards and rushed for 42 yards and a score. Milton, a freshman, went 0/1 and rushed for nine yards.