PREVIEWING THE 2018 CHICK-FIL-A PEACH BOWL
Colorado State and 47 yards against Tennessee this season. He averaged a
team-best of 6.5 yards per-carry.
Quarterback Feleipe Franks started all 12 games for the Gators in 2018.
He completed 58 percent of his 299 passes, threw for 2,284 yards and 23
touchdowns and rushed for another 276 yards and six scores. The redshirt
sophomore from Crawfordville, Florida, improved significantly this season,
distributing the ball in Mullen’s offense like a basketball point guard. Florida
receivers Van Jefferson, Josh Hammond, Trevon Grimes, Kadarius Toney,
Tyrie Cleveland and Freddie Swain combined for 124 catches and 1,850
yards, an average of 14.9 yards per catch. The six-pack of capable targets
popped the touchdown tab 21 times with Jefferson (6) and Swain (5) leading
the way. In 2017, the Gators’ offense scored 25 total touchdowns, turned the
ball over 20 times and permitted 37 sacks. This year, those figures were 47
total touchdowns, 14 turnovers and just 15 sacks.
Senior offensive lineman Martez Ivey led the way up front for the Gators.
Ivey has played in 48 career games for Florida and was accorded second-team
All-SEC honors this season. Fellow seniors Tyler Jordan and Fred Johnson also
started all 12 games for the Gators, while juniors Nick Buchanan and Jawaan
Taylor started 11 games each in the trenches. Tight end C’yontai Lewis, a fouryear
performer from Eutaw, Alabama, made 12 starts for Gators this season
and has appeared in 44 contests during his UF career.
Florida converted on 40 percent of its third-down conversion opportunities
and scored on 42-of-51 trips inside the opponents’ red zone with 30
touchdowns. The Gators will face the nation’s best unit in total defense in
the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl.
Michigan’s stop unit allowed just 262 yards allowed per game this season
and is a veritable Big Ten all-star team with 11 players having received allconference
honors this season. Michigan ranked second in the nation against
the pass, 17th against the rush and allowed just 17.6 points per game, which
was good for 12th overall in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS).
The leader of the pack is junior linebacker Devin Bush
Jr., who was named the Big Ten defensive player of the
year by the conference and The Associated Press, and also
was named the Big Ten linebacker of the year. Bush had a
team-leading 80 tackles, five sacks and broke up six pass
attempts. Bush’s high school teammates, junior linebacker
Devin Gil and junior safety Josh Metellus, also came to
Ann Arbor from Pembroke Pines, where they had played
at Flanagan H.S. for Bush’s father, Devin Sr., a former FSU
safety and national champion in 1993, who also won the
Super Bowl with the Rams in Atlanta in 2000.
All-Big Ten first-teamer, Chase Winovich, disrupts both the
run and the pass with equal fervor. The senior defensive end
had four sacks and led the Wolverines with 14.5 tackles-forloss
(TFL) and seven quarterback hurries this season. Rashan
Gary, who manned the opposite edge of the defensive line for
all but three games this season, will not participate in the game as he prepares
for his professional career. Gary missed the Wolverines three October games
due to a shoulder injury. Kwity Paye filled in admirably for Gary during the
season. Michael Dwumfour, Bryan Mone, Carlo Kemp, Lawrence Marshall and
Aidan Hutchinson will be counted on to plug the middle of the line against
In addition to second-team All-Big Ten performer Metellus, the Wolverines’
secondary is experienced and deep. First-team All-Big Ten cornerback Lavert
Hill is outstanding in coverage, while senior free safety Tyree Kinnel is one
of the best at run support. Kinnel was UM’s second-leading tackler this
season with 42 solos and 28 assists. Cornerback Brandon Watson had 22
solos, 17 assists and picked off three passes, while David Long a two-time
All-Big Ten honoree led the team with eight passes broken up.
Michigan allowed opponents to convert on just 32 percent of thirddown
conversions. Inside the red zone was one of the few areas where the
Wolverines’ defesne was suspect. UM surrendered points on 23-of-25 trips
inside their own 20-yard-line, which was just 122nd in the nation.
When the Wolverines Have the Ball
Sarasota native Karan Higdon led the Michigan rushing attack with 1,176
yards on 224 carries and 10 touchdowns. He reeled off seven straight games
of 100-plus rushing yards this season. Understudies Chris Evans (403 yards
on 74 carries) and Tru Wilson (355 yards on 59 attempts) helped provide
the offense with great balance and short-yardage battering ram Ben Mason
scored seven touchdowns for the Wolverines.
Mississippi transfer quarterback Shea Patterson, who started all 12
games for the Wolverines, proved to be a capable runner (268 yards on 66
attempts) and an adept passer. Patterson connected on 65 percent of his
passes for 2,364 yards and 21 touchdowns. He was intercepted just five
times all season and found receivers Donovan Peoples-Jones (39 catches),
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