Outback Bowl: South Carolina 26, Michigan 19

Tag: South Carolina

1Jan 2018
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Outback Bowl: South Carolina 26, Michigan 19

Take a deep breath. Take a deep breath. It’s hard after that game not to be very frustrated with the state of Michigan football, but I’ll say the same thing I said toward the end of the regular season: This was not going to be a great season from the beginning. Michigan lost almost everyone on defense from 2016, lost a bunch of production on offense, and lost three offensive line starters. They also didn’t get back their starting LT who got injured from last year, got their best WR hurt, and lost their starting four games into the year. If you’re an objective observer, you can probably admit that those are some huge, huge hurdles to overcome.

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31Dec 2017
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Outback Bowl Preview: Michigan vs. South Carolina


Michigan is #40 in rush offense (186 yards/game) and #54 in yards per rush (4.51). They are led by junior Karan Higdon, who is 71 yards shy of 1,000 yards for the season (147 carries, 929 yards, 6.3 YPC, 11 TDs). Junior backup Chris Evans came on stronger during the second half of the season, and he sits at 661 yards, 5.3 YPC, and 6 TDs. Both players started their ascent during the latter half of the year, which is when the offensive line started to gel in the running game. The right side of the line will probably be totally different than the way it started the season, because right guard Michael Onwenu (replaced by Cesar Ruiz) and right tackle Nolan Ulizio (replaced by Juwann Bushell-Beatty) both struggled mightily in pass protection. Oddly enough, Bushell-Beatty has been superior in both phases, and Ruiz has been good enough in the run game that Michigan hasn’t really missed Onwenu. Michigan is #10 in Adjusted Line Yards and #9 in Power Success Rate. Defensively, South Carolina is #41 in Adjusted Line Yards and #123 in Power Success Rate, and that ALY number is their highest ranking in any of Football Outsiders’ nine categories. They are #45 in rushing defense (147 yards allowed/game) and #42 in yards per carry allowed (3.9). They are not great, but they have been very consistent, allowing anywhere from 2.54 to 4.84 yards per carry in every game. (For some perspective, Michigan has a higher ranked rushing defense but allowed opponents anywhere from 0.41 to 6.4 yards/carry.) The Gamecocks are led in tackles by 6’2″, 218 lb. senior WILL Skai Moore, who is their best overall defender with 88 tackles, 8 TFLs, 2 sacks, and 3 INTs). Sophomore MIKE T.J. Brunson (6’1″, 230 lbs.) is second with 75 tackles, and senior strong safety Chris Lammons (5’10”, 190) has 70. Sophomore weakside end D.J. Wonnum (6’4″, 251) leads the squad with 13 tackles for loss. Sometimes crazy things happen in bowl games, but the numbers suggest Michigan should be able to run the ball okay but won’t go hogwild.
Advantage: Michigan

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3Jan 2013
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Michigan vs. South Carolina Awards

Jeremy Gallon had 2 touchdown receptions, including this leaping grab
(image via MLive)

Since the season is over, this is going to be a look toward next year.  Seniors are excluded from being named for the “Let’s see more/less” awards.

Let’s see more of this guy on offense . . . Devin Funchess.  For whatever reason(s), Michigan seemed to target freshman tight end Devin Funchess less as the year went along.  Other than a middle screen early in the game, the plays and the quarterback didn’t seem to be targeting Funchess.  At 6’5″, likely to be 240-ish next year, and with some speed, the coaches need to concentrate on finding ways to get him the ball.  I believe this will happen naturally because wide receiver Roy Roundtree will have graduated and the offense won’t center around Denard Robinson.

Let’s see less of this guy on offense . . . Justice Hayes.  Hayes does not appear to have a future role as a feature back.  He might be able to catch screen passes and do some things in the passing game a la Vincent Smith, but he’s just average in all categories – size, strength, speed, elusiveness, etc.  I don’t really think he fits in with what Michigan wants to do.

Let’s see more of this guy on defense . . . James Ross.  It’s tough for freshman linebackers to play big-time college football, and Michigan has two pretty good ones in Ross and Joe Bolden.  Ross had a nice blitz late in the game and has generally played well, although his pass drops could use some work.  Ideally, he would have been redshirting this season to hone those drops, but he looks to have a bright future.  My guess is that he’ll take over the weakside linebacker position next season, allowing Desmond Morgan to play middle linebacker.

Let’s see less of this guy on defense . . . Courtney Avery.  I had high hopes for Avery after the 2011 season, and he has been solid as a slot corner.  The problem is that he’s a primary backup on the outside, too, and he really struggled against Alabama and South Carolina when he was asked to fill in for Blake Countess and J.T. Floyd, respectively.  I still want to see him on the field playing the slot, but Michigan has to get Countess healthy and develop a better option behind the starters on the outside.

Play of the game . . . Drew Dileo’s fake field goal scramble.  Michigan’s staff got creative by shifting from a field goal formation to an empty backfield with holder Dileo playing quarterback.  A high school baseball star, Dileo can throw the ball a little bit.  When he didn’t see anyone open, he decided to scramble, made a guy miss in the open field, and gained 7 yards to convert the first down.  The kid has reliable hands, can return kicks, and is a versatile threat as a holder.  He won’t ever be a star, but he’s a fun guy to have on the football team.

MVP of the game . . . Jeremy Gallon.  Gallon did drop a slightly inaccurate pass, but he ended the game with 9 catches, 145 yards, and 2 touchdowns, along with an 11-yard return on the final kickoff.  Brady Hoke noted that he was playing hurt, and I thought I saw him a little bit gimpy with what appeared to be a hamstring issue.  Overall, he had a very good performance and should be the centerpiece of the receiving corps in 2013.