James Patton was named the new offensive line coach for the Eastern Michigan football team by head coach Chris Creighton on Jan. 16, and that should have fans, myself included, very excited. Patton was the offensive quality control assistant for the University of Pittsburgh the past two seasons.
“I feel very fortunate to be able to say that Coach James Patton is our offensive line coach here at Eastern Michigan,” said Creighton.
Creighton isn’t the only one that should feel fortunate about Patton joining the coaching staff -- Patton’s coaching resume speaks volumes about the type of coach the Eagles are getting. Patton has over 26 years of coaching experience, 16 of those years are at schools in the Midwest.
Arguably the most impressive portion of Patton’s resume is when he was the offensive line coach at the University of Oklahoma from 2006-2012. During that time, Oklahoma won five conference championships and had a trip to the BCS National Championship game in 2009. In 2011, while coaching at Oklahoma, his offensive line group gave up nine sacks over the entire season. That great offensive line play helped the Sooners offense to be ranked 13th in total offense that same season.
If Eastern is lucky enough to get a fraction of that type of performance from the offensive line group this season, or seasons ahead, it could help the Eagles to take the next step offensively.
Eastern Michigan gave up 39 sacks over the course of the 2018 season, putting them 111th in the country in sacks surrendered. To put that in perspective, the team that gave up the most sacks last season, Oregon State, had 48 sacks over the course of their season. Eastern Michigan could greatly benefit from better protection for the quarterback from the offensive line group in that regard.
Good offensive line play is quintessential for offensive production for any team, and where Patton has coached, the offenses have put up good numbers.
While at the University of Pittsburgh, the offense averaged almost 228 rushing yards per game -- that’s good enough to rank them as the 18th best rushing attack in the nation last year. In comparison, Eastern Michigan averaged 145 rushing yards per game. That has them ranked as the 96th best rushing offense in the nation last season. That’s almost double the number of rushing yards per game.
Good offensive line play can not only protect the quarterback better, but it could also lead to a more potent rushing attack. That could help expand the offense overall.
It remains to be seen if Patton can replicate the success he had at Oklahoma and Pittsburgh, but in the meantime, looking at his past successes, it looks like a good hire for the coaching staff.
Time will tell whether this was a good addition to the coaching staff, but on paper, it looks like a home run that could pay dividends for Eastern Michigan.