Observations on the storybook finish for Lloyd Carr, 41-35 Capital Bowl win over Florida!

1-Michigan created 8 red zones (although I think it was 9) for 38 points overcoming 4 turnovers, and defeating the Florida Gators in an orange clad stadium right in their backyard. Florida's vaunted offense created 6 red zones (although I had 7 or 8) for 35 points, and capitalized on one of the four Wolverine turnovers for 7 points, but in the end, it wasn't enough to overcome a determined Wolverine team who came back twice from deficits.

2-Chad Henne came back from a shoulder injury, and nerve damage to become the Capital One Bowl Player of the Game! He completed a career high 25 of 39 for 373 yards, 3 TDs and 2 interceptions. Henne engineered 28 first downs, 524 yards of total offense, and was 10 of 15 in 3rd down conversions. Adrian Arrington had 9 catches for 153 yards and 2 TDs. Super Mario Manningham had 5 receptions and 7 runs for 131 yards and a TD. Carson Butler rumbled 65 yards after a short catch to set up another scoring opportunity and Mathews grabbed 7 for 62 yards. Mark Moundros and Junior Hemingway contributed 4 yard catches as well. The offense crafted a 4 and a half minute time of possession advantage that gave us a 22 offensive play edge.

3-Hart had 32 carries for 129 yards and a TD and caught a pass for 7 yards, but fumbled away 2 red zone opportunities. Luckily, the team overcame his mistakes.

4-Defense won the game with two crucial late fourth quarter stops ruining any opportunity the Gators had to rally! Tim Tebow completed 17 of 33 for 154 yards and 3 TDs plus 16 runs for 57 yards and a TD. Percy Harvin had 13 runs for 165 yards and a TD plus 9 catches for 77 yards and another TD; 242 yards of total offense was pretty impressive, but he was too tired to be a factor at the end of the game. Caldwell had 4 catches for 40 yards and two TDs. Gators ended up with 399 yards, 18 first downs, but was only 4 of 15 in 3rd down and 4th down conversions. Backup Free Safety Stevie Brown got the pass break up on a 4th down as did Brandon Harrison to clinch the victory after Morgan Trent's interception on 3rd down was caught a tad out of bounds. There were a lot of other big plays including late heat by Shawn Crable, Jamar Adams and Brandon Graham. Adams did sack Tebo earlier in the game, and led the defense with 9 tackles. Chris Graham and Brandon Harrison had 7 tackles each. Crable and Englelmon had 6 tackles each; 2 of Crable's were for losses plus he came through with two quarterback hits on Tebo. We also had a key touchdown saving tackle by Morgan Trent on Harvin leading to a missed field goal, and no score.

5-Special Teams really played great in the second half! We started the half by converting a pooch kickoff into an onside kick recovery by Special Teams Captain Anton Campbell and scoring a TD to take a two score lead. Kirk Moundros forced a fumble. Terrence Taylor blocked a Gator field goal attempt. We did get burned on a fake punt that led to Florida tying the game, and we overcame two costly second half turnovers that put the Gators back on top in the 4th quarter. Lopata nailed the winning margin with two 4th quarter field goals of 37 and 41 yards. The offense kept Zoltan Mesko on the bench the entire second half as no punts were needed.

6-Lloyd Carr deserved to go out a winner, and it was really a very, very special Wolverine victory to make this happen against a very good Florida football team in Orlando. It was also quite special for Lloyd to receive the Bobby Dodd Coach of the Year Award in his last year after Bo won the award 30 years earlier.

7-If a prospective Michigan football recruit watched today's game, and wouldn't want to come to be a part of this program with Coach Rodriquez and his new staff, they should definitely seek immediate counseling.
Observations on the first half with Florida, 21-14!

1-Michigan creates 4 red zones, and convert three for 21 points. Florida creates 3 red zones, and converted two for 14 points! Michigan commits two turnovers, one in the red zone, and Florida can't convert them into points.

2-Henne looks great! He completes 14 of 23 for 213 yards, 2 TDs and one interception. Manningham has 5 receptions and 5 runs for 104 yards and 1 TD. Arrington has 5 catches for 53 yards and a TD. Butler gets a 65 yard catch and run, and Mathews gets 2 catches for 13 yards. Moundros get a 4 yard catch, but drops a sure TD. We are 7 of 9 in 3rd down conversions with 282 total yards, 16 first downs and a 3 minute time of possession advantage.

3-Hart has 15 carries for 64 yards and a TD, but fumbles away a red zone opportunity. I am sick of his constant poor modeling with his trash talking; it is disrespectful and not indicative of sportsmanlike conduct from a Michigan athlete.

4-Defense has contained the Gators! Tebow is 9 of 16 for 108 yards, and 7 runs for 19 yards. Harvin has 6 runs for 86 yards, and 4 catches for 58 yards and a TD. Caldwell has 3 catches for 26 yards and a TD. Gators have 220 yards, 10 first downs and are only 1 of 5 in 3rd down conversions.

5-Special Teams has Minor with 2 kickoffs for 29 yards including a bad mistake to start the game at the 7 with a ball going out of bounds. Mouton gets a 14 yard return. Lopatka willed in an extra point that really looked ugly. Ijjas has missed two field goals including one blocked by Taylor. Mesko and Henry have two punts each. Field position is also a key as twice we held the Gators inside their 20 for punts after they had great field position in their first few possessions. Both teams have taken a lot of penalties; we have 6 for 50 yards while the Gators have 7 for 39 yards. Boren had an illegal procedure call, Henne has tabbed for intentional grounding, North got an illegal procedure on a punt and came back on the next play with a personal foul, Arrington got a holding call.

6-If we can force the Gators into turnovers, and continue to maintain a time of possession advantage, we could upset the Gators!
Capital One Bowl Preview

Michigan arrived in Orlando with several distractions facing the team: the final game for Lloyd Carr after 13 years as a head coach, assistant coaching changes, possible player transfers, a two game losing streak, etc. Florida has a stable coaching situation with one of the recognized top head coaches in NCAA football, Urban Meyer, winning the national title in 2007, and finishing the season with a four game winning streak averaging nearly 50 points per game in those four games with Sophomore Heisman trophy winner Tim Tebow's leadership.

On offense, Florida leads the nation in passing efficiency. Tebow is the #2 most efficient quarterback in the country in a spread offense which is something that Ron English and Jim Herrmann's Wolverines have been unable to stop. Tebow averages 70 yards per game, scores 22 touchdowns, and he throws and hands the ball to one of the finest all-purpose athletes in NCAA football in Percy Harvin who averages 5 receptions and 78 yards per game plus 60 yards rushing per game. Tebow also finds receivers, Senior Andre Caldwell, Junior Louis Murphy and Junior Tight End Cornelius Ingram who contribute another 11 receptions and 158 yards in receiving yards. Kestahn Moore contributes another 47 yards per game in rushing. Overall, Florida is ranked #14 in the nation in total offense with 462 yards per game (7.1 yards per play) and they are ranked #4 in scoring offense with 43 points per game. The Gators have a 56% 3rd and 4th down conversion percentage, and convert 75% of their red zone opportunities into touchdowns, 88% of red zones into scores. They will be difficult to stop or even slow down; the only hope appears to be their self-destruction in turnovers, forced or unforced. Their offensive line has only allowed 8 sacks, and blocks well enough to generate 198 yards in rushing per game ranking them #26 nationally.

On defense, the Gators are tough against the run which happens to be Michigan's strength offensively. Florida is ranked #11 nationally against the rush allowing 99 yards per game. Florida is susceptible to the pass, and allows 249 yards per game since most teams are way behind and need to throw in an effort to catch up (since they can't run); however, the Gators average 2 sacks and 7 tackles for loss per game working mostly in prevent packages. Sophomore Linebacker, Brandon Spikes, leads the defense with 118 tackles, 14 for loss, 7 pass break ups, 2 fumble recoveries, 1.5 sacks, a quarterback hit and a forced fumble. Former Michigan Defensive Coordinator and current Gator DC, Greg Mattison, will be prepared for whatever Mike DeBord dishes out; he will have his defense prepared to stop Mike Hart and our running attack. Our offense is only ranked #74 in total offense and #68 in scoring offense, and there is no evidence that Senior Chad Henne is anywhere near 100% for his final game. An optimist would think that a healthy, rested Wolverine offense would be ready for a young Gator defense starting mostly Freshmen and Sophomores; however, there are no factors pointing to Henne, Hart & Company providing us with a 500+ yard offensive finale. For Michigan to have a chance to win, they must establish a running game and time of possession advantage to keep the ball away from the dangerous Gator offense, and they have not been able to do this against quality opponents in 2007.

On special teams, Sophomore Brandon James is one of the nation's finest returners; he averages nearly 18 yards per punt return ranking him #2 nationally and another 28 yards per kickoff return ranking him #16 nationally. James generates 123 yards of total offense per game which helps the Gators establish excellent field position for Tebow & company. Their field goal and extra point specialist, Senior Joey Ijjas, has converted 10 of 13 field goal and 67 of 68 PAT opportunities. Their punter, Chas Henry, has an average of 39.3 yards with 14 of 34 punts downed inside the 20; the Gators net punting is ranked #10 nationally. This speaks to the speed of their flyers to cover. On the dark side, the Gators do take a lot of penalties, and average 63 yards per game.

Florida's losses came to arch-rival, Georgia 30-42 in Jacksonville, at LSU 24-28 and at home against Auburn 17-20. Georgia sacked Florida 6 times, forced 3 Gator turnovers for a +2 turnover advantage, held the Gators to 5 of 12 in 3rd and 4th down conversions including 2 of 4 in the red zone, 107 yards of net rushing and held a 5 minute time of possession advantage to prevail. Florida say LSU rally in Baton Rouge after holding a 24-14 lead in the 4th quarter. Similarly, the Tigers held a +2 turnover advantage, sacked Tebow twice and held the Gators to 156 net rushing yards as they held nearly a 12 minute time of possession advantage resulting in a 32 offensive play advantage including 12 of 15 minutes in the final quarter. Auburn executed a great Tuberville game plan, and a stout defense that limited the Gators to 111 yards in net rushing in creating a 6 minute time of possession advantage that resulted in a 15 offensive play advantage as they held off a late Gator rally that had tied the game with 3:32 to go. I don't think Michigan's defense is capable of this kind of heroic effort against a spread offense since they haven't shown up all year, and I can't have confidence in a running game that couldn't get it done against quality opponents when we needed this kind of effort.

It would be a mammoth upset if Michigan prevails, and sends Lloyd Carr out a winner. Big Ten versus SEC, isn't this a matchup that is supposed to result in a speed advantage for Florida? This is not the same Michigan football program that invaded Orlando in the 2003 Capital One Bowl and came out faster, quicker and hungrier in a 38-30 triumph over the Gators. I have never predicted a Michigan blow out, and even though Florida is an 11 point favorite and playing a virtual home game, my prediction is regretfully (I hope I'm wrong):

Florida 38 Michigan 30