If they don’t care, why should I? This was my attitude going into the game, and it was even more so throughout the game. Four NFL-bound players sat out the game (LB Devin Bush, Jr., RT Juwann Bushell-Beatty, DE Rashan Gary, RB Karan Higdon), and both Gary and Higdon should have been there for their teammates, their coaches, and their school. Bush and Bushell-Beatty were more questionable because of supposedly disqualifying injuries, but I sincerely doubt all four of those guys would have missed the game if they were playing in the College Football Playoff. I get it: they have to do what’s best for them. I also get this: I don’t like it. I can’t get excited about a game in which four starters, including two potential 1st-rounders and the first 1,000-yard running back in seven years, sit at home instead of trying to get their teammates and coaches to 11 wins.
Hit the jump for more.
That’s not to say all the players don’t care. Khaleke Hudson had an emotional outburst on the sideline, and good for him. And Chase Winovich moved up my list in the pantheon of awesome Michigan guys by playing in his final game for U of M and putting off surgery. I won’t be buying any Rashan Gary or Karan Higdon gear anytime soon, but I’ll be supporting Winovich wherever he ends up in the NFL and beyond.
Shea Patterson said it after the game. Shea Patterson admitted Michigan isn’t the same team without those guys. Bushell-Beatty was never a great player, but his backup, Andrew Stueber, took two penalties and struggled at times. Michigan’s rush defense struggled without Bush, especially after the third-best inside linebacker (Devin Gil) hurt his hamstring, leaving Michigan to play middle linebacker Josh Ross and two Vipers, Hudson and Jordan Glasgow. I guess the defensive staff doesn’t trust Jordan Anthony or Cameron McGrone enough to put them out there at WILL. Kwity Paye, starting in place of Gary, also got hurt and didn’t return after halftime, leaving Michigan to trot out Chase Winovich (the weakside end) at strongside end and a whole lot of Josh Uche (a situational pass rusher all year) at weakside end. Running back Chris Evans was ineffective (7 carries, 20 yards). And on top of those guys missing, defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon (Tennessee) and linebacker Drew Singleton (Rutgers) transferred from the program earlier than they needed to, so they weren’t available to step in when Gil and defensive tackle Michael Dwumfour.
This was a reverse image of the Citrus Bowl following the 2015 season. Michigan fans were making fun of Florida going into the Citrus Bowl a few years ago. A bunch of Florida guys quit the team or left early for the NFL. You could see it going into this game. The tables had been turned. No Florida players were sitting out of this year’s bowl game, but Michigan dudes were dropping left and right. I saw it in the weeks leading up to the game, but I didn’t mention it because I didn’t want it to be true. Lo and behold, the scores were almost perfectly reversed. Michigan won the 2016 Citrus Bowl by a score of 41-7, and Michigan lost this one, 41-15.
This game was more frustrating than the Ohio State loss. Why? Obviously, Ohio State was a bigger loss in the overall scheme of the season and the program, because a win likely would have propelled Michigan into the playoff, as long as they beat Northwestern in the Big Ten Championship. But I think everyone knew that Ohio State could be explosive on offense and was capable of beating Michigan, since…you know…that’s what they’ve been doing on a yearly basis. But this one? Florida hadn’t put up this kind of performance against a ranked team all year. Their two wins over ranked teams in 2018 were one-score victories over #11 LSU and #18 Mississippi State. In walks #7 Michigan, and it wasn’t even close.
Why was Michigan -6? I didn’t understand the spread for this game, especially in the wake of four starters sitting out. I told people I was expecting Michigan to lose by two scores. It was worse than that, but it would have taken some serious luck or injuries to Florida for them to lose at full strength while Michigan was playing so shorthanded.
It’s your Turner, Christian. Lame pun, but that’s all the energy I have left. Christian Turner played pretty well in what looks like an audition for serious snaps next year. He had been battling injuries all season, but with Higdon sitting out, Turner got some run and almost housed a jet sweep for a touchdown. Evans isn’t a tackle-to-tackle runner, and Tru Wilson doesn’t have the burst to be anything more than a backup, ideally. Turner has some juice, and hopefully with Zach Charbonnet coming next season, the Wolverines can keep three of those guys healthy enough for the whole year. In my opinion, Turner and Charbonnet look like the best two backs to play on early downs.
Michigan got out-schemed. Again. This is nothing new. And when you get out-schemed with a bunch of backups, the result is bad.
A terrible end to a good season. Ultimately, Michigan went 10-3 this year and did a lot of excellent things. But only the glass-half-fullest of people can be happy about the way this season ended.
You need to login in order to vote