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Peach Bowl: Michigan’s keys to victory versus Florida

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“You play to win the game”

NCAA Football: Wisconsin at Michigan Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The last game of Michigan’s season is finally here. It’s been an up and down ride of a year, and it all culminates at the Peach Bowl against the Florida Gators in Atlanta, Georgia.

If Michigan’s going to win this game, they’re going to have to do a few of the things outlined in this article.

Michigan’s keys to victory versus Florida

Don’t let Florida’s offense become Ohio State 2.0

Florida head coach Dan Mullen is a protege of Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer. Mullen served as Meyer’s offensive coordinator at Florida from 2005-2008 and was also on his staff at Bowling Green and Utah.

Mullen runs a spread set similar to what Meyer uses at OSU, the major difference being Mullen doesn’t pass as much as Meyer likes to.

There’s a good chance Mullen and Meyer have spoke this month and that Meyer has given the Gators a pointer or two that will be part of their gameplan.

Michigan’s defensive coordinator Don Brown knows what went wrong against the Buckeyes, and he also realizes Florida would be foolish not to attempt what worked so well for OSU. mesh patterns, crossers, quick slants, outside speed runs, qb runs all should be dialed up.

Brown and the Michigan D are going to be tested and it’s going to be beyond interesting to see if they’ve adjusted this past month to stop a spread attack like the one Florida will trot out there in the Peach Bowl.

The pass-rush needs to get home in this one, the secondary has to stay with their man in coverage, and the unit must communicate well on the field pre-snap. Florida’s offense might not be prolific, but they could give Michigan trouble schematically, they have fast players at wideout and running back.

A good day from the running backs

It’s hard telling who will receive the bulk of the carries for Michigan. It could be Chris Evans or Tru Wilson, but there’s also a realistic possibility Christian Turner sees extensive action in the game. Whoever is on the field will have to fill the shoes of Karan Higdon, who’s sitting the game out. Positive yardage from the RB’s is important, but so will their pass protection. And in Evans case, pass catching. The Michigan backfield is shaping up to be a plattoon, which is fine, as long as someone produces.

Don’t let Franks extend plays

Florida QB Feleipe Franks has rushed for 276 yards and 6 touchdowns in 2018, while also throwing for 23 touchdowns. When the pocket breaks down, Franks has a savvy ability to get out and either run for a good gain or buy enough time to find an open man down field. Michigan’s secondary is one of the best in college football, but no matter how good a defensive is, they can only cover so long if the opposing quarterback keeps plays alive.

Have a champion mindset

While a few key contributors for U-M will be sitting out, there’s no time for the team to feel sorry for themselves as it pertains to the situation, they have a game to play without the likes of Higdon, Devin Bush, Rashan Gary, and Juwann Bushell-Beatty.

This may not be the game Michigan wanted to play in, as their aspirations included stops in the Big Ten Championship Game and College Football Playoff.

There’s actually a lot to play for. A win would put Michigan at 11 victories on the season, a total they’ve currently only reached twice in the past twenty years. A win would put Harbaugh at 2-2 in bowl games at Michigan, A win would make the off-season a more positive one, a loss in the Peach Bowl combined with the loss to Ohio State would be an absolutely brutal end to the season for Michigan.

Play smart, Play angry. Play to win. Take the game seriously, because Florida is hungry for a ten win season.

Let the quarterback shine/be ready to shift schematics if necessary

There’s nothing wrong with ground and pound football if that type of gameplan translates into wins, but even so, it would be great to see the Michigan offense let it rip at a sold out Peach Bowl.

Quarterback Shea Patterson is returning in 2019 and maybe, just maybe Harbaugh and Co. will show us what’s to come for Michigan’s passing game. Let’s see if today is the first time that Patterson throws for 300 yards in a Michigan uniform, let’s see if over a month off brings rust or a more cohesive aerial assault. Beyond the passing game, I’d like to see at least a half dozen designed Patterson runs.

Further, if 2 tight end sets aren’t working, I’d like to see more of a spread offense, if the running game stalls or if Michigan’s tight ends aren’t getting open, the personnel packages should deviate from the norm and more receivers should see snaps.