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Michigan fizzles as Florida rolls to easy victory in Peach Bowl

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Michigan fizzles as Florida rolls to easy victory in Peach Bowl

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ATLANTA — Michigan football hoped to enter 2019 with some positive thoughts. 

Instead, the Wolverines closed 2018 with a second straight dud. 

U-M’s offense looked hapless for most of the day, putting up just 326 yards and one touchdown in a dreadful 41-15 loss to Florida in the Peach Bowl. 

After winning 10 straight, the Wolverines close their season with back-to-back losses and a 10-3 record for the third time in Jim Harbaugh’s four years with the program. 

More: U-M fans furious at Harbaugh after embarrassing Peach Bowl loss

Michigan has now dropped three straight bowl games, and five of its last six. 

Quarterback Shea Patterson finished 22 of 36 for 236 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He was sacked five times. 

Florida put up 427 yards. The Gators rushed for 257 yards on 40 carries. 

Offense fizzles

U-M’s offense fizzled out Saturday with a listless day that featured missed opportunities and more stagnant plodding from a schematic standpoint. 

In the first half, Michigan had a turnover on downs on its first possession of the game after trying to slam fullback Ben Mason up the middle on back-to-back plays. Both resulted in zero yards. 

The Wolverines blocked a punt inside Florida territory in the second half but wound up having to settle for a field goal after generating zero yards on three plays.

U-M had a chance to get some points to close the half but was plagued by poor time management and zero urgency before forcing Jake Moody to attempt an unsuccessful 52-yard field goal. 

Everything was slow. 

Michigan barely used the trio of Donovan Peoples-Jones, Nico Collins and Tarik Black together. That’s beyond baffling. The Wolverines were huddling down 17 points in the third quarter. 

U-M is scheduled to bring back a ton of talent on offense in 2019. But if the fundamental philosophy of playing slow continues, these results will, too. 

Michigan’s ground game was relatively non-existent, as the Wolverines rushed for just 77 yards on 30 carries. The Wolverines were playing without starting running back Karan Higdon and starting right tackle Juwann Bushell-Beatty on offense. 

Out of gas

Defensively, Michigan felt the absence of inside linebacker Devin Bush Jr. more than once as Florida was able to make plays in open space throughout the game. Depth concerns mounted when Devin Gil went down with a game-ending leg injury in the first half. 

U-M also played without junior defensive end Rashan Gary and found more depth concerns happened when Kwity Paye went down with an injury in the first half, forcing Michigan to go to true freshman Aidan Hutchinson opposite Chase Winovich. 

Jordan Glasgow filled in for Gil throughout the second half. 

U-M’s defense had coverage botches downfield. The tackling was poor. The Wolverines played without two of their best players and it showed. 

What now? 

Michigan made progress in 2018 as the program’s in a better place than where it was a year ago at this time. The Wolverines couldn’t notch an 11th win, but also played without four starters — including two captains. 

Still, not enough progress was made. And Harbaugh’s offense has got to get faster with the way it operates.

Michigan’s best three offensive players are Collins, Peoples-Jones and Black. The offense doesn’t revolve around them in the way it should. That’s a problem. 

U-M’s defense will have some offseason soul-searching to do as well. 

Ohio State threw the ball all over the field against Michigan in November. Florida ran it down its throat in December. 

Don Brown put together 10 games of statistical excellence and had two disasters to close things out. 

Contact Nick Baumgardner: nbaumgardn@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @NickBaumgardner. 

 

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