MICHIGAN PASS OFFENSE
Michigan is #47 in passing offense (252.3 yards/game), #49 in passing efficiency, and tied for #31 in yards per attempt (8.1). All those numbers sound about right. Quarterback Shea Patterson seemed to settle in during the second half of the year, and his yards per attempt were solid the final three weeks (11.6, 11.4, 7.1 against MSU, Indiana, and OSU, respectively). The numbers against Ohio State should have been better, but Michigan’s receivers – mainly Donovan Peoples-Jones – lost their focus and forgot how to catch. Speaking of former 5-star Peoples-Jones, he was somewhat pedestrian during the regular season with 33 catches for 404 yards and 6 touchdowns. Injury did play a part early in the season, but he was outplayed by slot receiver Ronnie Bell (44/705/1) and gargantuan outside guy Nico Collins (33/681/7). Tight ends Sean McKeon and Nick Eubanks are also factors with 36 catches for 464 yards and 5 scores between them. Michigan’s offensive line gives up 1.83 sacks/game, which is #53 in the country.
ALABAMA PASS DEFENSE
Alabama is #9 in pass defense (183.4 yards allowed/game) with the #7 passer efficiency rating defense and the #5 yards per attempt defense (5.9). There had been some concern about their defensive backs going into the season, but they played well overall; however, star cornerback Trevon Diggs is sitting out of the Citrus Bowl to save himself for the NFL, taking his 3 interceptions and 8 pass breakups with him. Sophomore Josh Jobe (6’1″, 189) and redshirt freshman Jalyn Amour-Davis (6’1″, 182) are the possible replacements and should be frequent targets of Michigan’s passing offense. Elsewhere, safeties Jared Mayden (6’0″, 205) and Xavier McKinney (6’1″, 200) have combined for 7 interceptions. Alabama is #52 in sacks, led by senior linebacker Anfernee Jennings (6’3″, 259) with 7.5. Second-leading sacker Terrell Lewis will be hanging out with Diggs and watching the game from their safe space.
Advantage: Alabama. I do think Michigan can get some plays in the passing game, because I don’t see them getting a ton of pressure on the Wolverines. But the defensive backs at Alabama are well coached, so unless Patterson can get some big plays against Diggs’s replacement, there won’t be a ton of separation.