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Takeaways from Michigan’s Citrus Bowl loss to Alabama

Michigan led at half, but Alabama pulled away in the 4th quarter.

NCAA Football: Citrus Bowl-Michigan vs Alabama Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Michigan Wolverines 2019 season came to an end on the first day of 2020, losing to the Alabama Crimson TIde 35-16 at the Citrus Bowl. Here are the takeaways from the game.

Jeudy showcases blazing speed

Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy was the Citrus Bowl MVP and most prolific playmaker. Jeudy set the tone for the Tide on their first offensive play with an 85-yard touchdown reception. On the day Jeudy hauled in 6 receptions for 204 yards and the touchdown.

Freshman safety Dax Hill was tasked with covering Jeudy for much of the day, and whlie Hill fared well for the most part, it only take a few big plays to change the course of a football game. Jeudy will be a top fifteen selection in the upcoming NFL Draft and his draft stock rose today with a strong showing in a game he could have sat out.

Final score doesn’t reflect how close the game was

After Alabama went up 7-0, Michigan wound up with a lead at halftime, 16-14. It was a back and forth affair, both teams were trading blows, and it looked like the game could come down to the wire. Even midway through the 4th quarter the game was close with Alabama leading 21-16 before pulling away and winning 35-16. While all losses count the same, Michigan had victory within their reach before Alabama went up 28-16 with 10:01 to go in the 4th. Michigan still had a shot until Shea Patterson threw an interception with 6 minutes to go. At that point, Alabama went on a long drive for another score that ran the clock all the way down to 26 seconds.

Giles Jackson flashes big play potential

One of the bright spots for Michigan was Giles Jackson, who was impressive as a pass catcher and return man against ‘Bama. Jackson was Michigan’s leading receiver with 4 receptions for 57 yards. On the opening kickoff return Jackson took it 50 yards and set Michigan’s offense up with nice field position, but the O couldn’t capitalize.

Jackson will be a difference maker in 2020 for Michigan in the return game, as a slot receiver, and as a gadget back on third down.

Rushing attack has strong showing

Michigan had a sizable time of possession edge for much of the game thanks in part to the production of Zach Charbonnet and Hassan Haskins. Both backs were able to move the chains and gain a steady amount of yards after contact. Haskins rushed for 61 yards while Charbonnet rushed for 84.

Both players will have a role next season for Michigan, but their carries may take a hit at times with speedster Chris Evans coming back to the program. Haskins and Charbonnet are bruisers and don’t have top tier speed, which is the one element that this RB unit could have used today against an incredibly fast Alabama defense.

Big plays hurt Michigan’s defense

Michigan’s defense played well in spurts, but Alabama was able to gash them on chunk plays. Four ‘Bama receiving targets netted gains of 20 yards or longer, two running backs had gains of yards or longer. This led to the Tide averaging an impressive 8.7 yards per play.

Patterson struggles in final start of Michigan career

Shea Patterson’s had some good days wearing a Michigan uniform, but this wasn’t one of them. While Patterson extended some plays nicely and found open wideouts, he was inaccurate throughout the day on anything other than an intermediate throw. Patterson was 17-of-37 for 233 yards, 1 touchdown, and 2 interceptions.

There were times where Patterson missed an open receiver, there were times where he didn’t throw to the open target. Alabama played tight coverage throughout the afternoon, but there were enough missed opportunities where it’s fair to say that if Patterson hit on a few of them the final score would have been much different.

Best of luck to Shea Patterson in the days ahead, but it’s time for the Dylan McCaffrey/Joe Milton era.

Offense trending in right direction heading into 2020

Michigan’s offensive scheme took a 180 this offseason when they hired Josh Gattis and went to a full out spread system. There were growing pains, there were bumps along the road, but now it’s about having the proper personnel and executing therein. Michigan’s offense has playmakers and it looks like they’re a Joe Burrow type quarterback away from competing for a Big Ten Championship. There’s speed and size at wideout, there’s power and speed at running back, there are two quarterbacks that many are very high on. We’ve seen flashes of what Gattis’ scheme could be if it’s firing on all cylinders. Can Michigan take a leap in 2020 and become one of the best offensive units in the nation? To be continued.