Michigan Football: South Carolina vs. Michigan — Outback Bowl — Game Summary
Live To Blitz or Die
South Carolina Goes To The End Zone
The Michigan players and coaches deserve credit. The team played hard, made mistakes, but played smart most of the time, and played with plenty of grit. In a game that was slipping away early, Michigan, on both sides of the ball, picked it up and took the lead late in the game.
Just like at Ohio State (end of first half), the defense could not hold at a critical time, resulting in a loss to 11 win South Carolina. The Gamecocks half way through the schedule were rocking toward a national title game. Then disaster struck and the best running back around went down for the count.
Still South Carolina could depend on a great defense, replete with NFL talent to carry on. But the Florida loss ended talk of bigger prizes.
Michigan did well against the fine South Carolina defense and the credit here is given to Coordinator Al Borges. It was stated in the previews that he must be creative but not cute. He certainly accomplished that end. It was not smoke when Jon Gruden kept pointing out Borges’ effective game planning. Coach used the short passing game, went for the sit down areas, ran the quick slants, threw some nice misdirection, counter screens, and used Denard effectively most of the game, even in power formations and blocking. There were very few calls that one could truly argue. There was the one third and short that ended up being a fiasco, and there were a few situations that Denard must not have been part of the package, as he left the game, but today was a great job of planning by Coach Borges.
Coach Hoke showed that the staff was playing to win with fakes galore and plenty of guts. These plays are more appreciation when they work.
Clowney came on as the game progressed and made a couple of plays that turned the game around, at least temporarily. Vincent Smith is as tough as they come surviving the hit he took. It is amazing how the blocking scheme turned Clowney loose on that ill-fated play. Someday Michigan will have a fullback that can block like a fullback and not have to rely on a tough 165 pounder to block blitzes or run an isoblast.Taylor Lewan deserves high marks today, even considering his one or two usual goof-ups that cost the offense. There are probably less than 10 linemen in the college ranks who could control a guy of Clowney’s ability for three quarters. Taylor had help, Michigan game planned well to give a little help here and a little help there to attempt to minimize Clowney’s reign of terror. Add a nice hurrah for Elliott Mealer, who may have played his best game in the Outback Bowl.
The game showed that Michigan is well behind in secondary speed, and overall talent, commodities that also translate to special teams. Good special teams have talented linebackers and defensive backs, either starters or young players on the way up. It never has been la secret why Michigan is recruiting guys with speed and or size that can cover. Many of the defensive backs are still young, and there is a long way to go before Michigan can be a total defense.
Gallon played like a 7-foot warrior, the way he always plays. Gallon has become a solid, go to receiver. Clearly, the staff and Devin Gardner have confidence in him. Roundtree and Dileo were solid.
Both receivers would have had bigger days except for some erratic throws by Devin Gardner. Devin seemed to be a little hesitant at times, but in fairness he was under quite a bit of duress most of the day. Confidence and experience are needed for Devin to progress. Coach Borges has a monster job to get Devin to the next plateau, the elite level. Mechanics must be worked on to a high degree. His footwork is still just passable. He must throw with conviction and accuracy and hit the many five to ten yard gains that were lost against South Carolina due to accuracy problems.
But here is the bottom line: considering he has started a handful of games, what Devin did against the high level Gamecock defense is laudable. Devin’s future success comes down to his preparation and intensity next year, along with the aforementioned position coaching from Coach Borges. This is a major mission that will have much to say about Michigan’s offensive success next year.There will be debate about Coach Mattison’s continued use of the blitz at the end of the game, especially when the number one mission was to keep the Gamecocks out of the end zone and make South Carolina win with a long field goal. Every time on the last drive the blitz failed, exposing one of Michigan’s long identified limitations; the lack of a true pass rush. The secondary became ridiculously exposed and collapsed, not even knowing where the ball or the receivers were in man-to-man coverage.
At thirty seconds, two South Carolina players went off with injuries, stopping the clock and preserving the one remaining time out. That 15 second or so difference with the clock not running became big, perhaps the deciding factor.
Michigan needs to move forward from this bitter pill to swallow, develop some defensive backs, recruit some skilled players, and let that still young defense continue to grow. True difference makers are still in great need, say a guy like Clowney.
All is not lost, but for a second game in a row defeat was pulled from victory. But this Michigan team did not disappoint with effort or good preparation. Wile can kick, and we will see if Hagerup ever comes back. No one will ever be able to determine how much J. T. Floyd’s blunder cost the team. But lessons must be learned, regardless of the timing.
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff
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