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Pitt coach James Patton takes Eastern Michigan job

Patton served as Pitt’s offensive quality control coach under Shawn Watson

Pitt offensive quality control coach James Patton is on the move, as he was hired by Eastern Michigan to serve as the Eagles offensive line coach, according to Adam Rittenberg of ESPN. Patton’s departure follows the dismissal of former Pitt offensive coordinator Shawn Watson, who Patton accompanied to Pitt from Indiana.

The arrival of Patton and Watson saw Pitt’s offense plummet from 10th in the nation to 101st in the span of a year. However, that drop coincided with the losses of running back James Conner and quarterback Nathan Peterman, who were essential to the team’s success in the 2016 season.

To their credit, Patton and Watson oversaw a Panthers backfield that ranked among the best in the nation in 2018, as running backs Qadree Ollison and Darrin Hall led a rushing attack that averaged 227.9 yards per game. However, the Pitt passing game lagged, and part of the reason for that was an offensive line that ranked 97th in the nation in sacks allowed, with 33 in 2018.

Prior to his arrival at Pitt, Patton gained Power Five experience on the Oklahoma and Northwestern staffs. But with regard to his new position, his background in the MAC may serve him best, as he spent six years coaching at Miami (Ohio), which is also his alma mater.