The Peach Bowl was a case of the usual things going backwards. Florida was 0-4 all-time against Michigan but came out with the win. The Gators laid enormous eggs in their past two trips to this bowl game, but they were the more fired up team.
In one critical aspect, the advanced stats show how something went completely backward from UF’s 2018 tendency, and it made all the difference. I’m going to do a couple things out of the normal order I use in these reviews to show that change off.
This review is based on Bill Connelly’s Five Factors of winning, and sacks are counted as pass plays. It does not include the drives at the end of each half when teams were just running clock.
The main measure here is success rate. Watch this short video if you need to brush up on it.
|Team||Run SR||Pass SR||Overall SR||Red Zone SR|
The two teams came out with nearly identical overall efficiency rates. The individual ones for run and pass were nearly the same as well, just reversed. The Gators’ rushing success rate and the Wolverines’ passing success rate were very close and vice versa.
Here is the start of the big difference. Florida’s offense this year was heavily weighted towards efficiency. It was able to move the ball on a down-by-down basis. In this game it wasn’t really able to do that to a great degree. The run mark is about average; the passing mark is well below it. They combine for a rather underwhelming whole.
Everyone has a different definition for what counts as an “explosive play”, but I go with runs of at least ten yards and passes of at least 20 yards.
|Team||Runs 10+||Pct.||Passes 20+||Pct.||Explosive Pct.|
Here is the completion of the reversal of tendency. What the Gators lacked in efficiency, they made up for in explosiveness in spades. Generating big plays consistently was the offense’s Achilles heel this season, but just about one in five plays qualified as explosive by the definition I use.
This is part of why you came away feeling pretty good about Feleipe Franks and the passing game even though their efficiency rate was so poor. It was able to create four big gains in opportune times — not to mention that Franks had three explosive runs by himself.
Michigan’s defense is still one of the country’s best even without the players it was missing on Saturday. The low efficiency rate is appropriate if a bit disappointing, but making up for it with lots of chunk plays is an unqualified success.
Efficiency by Player
|Player||Comp. Pct.||Pass Eff.||Yards/Att||Sacks||Pass SR|
Franks completed about the same percentage of passes that he did for the 2017 season, and his passing efficiency rating is decent if pedestrian. His yards per completion is OK but not great, and he took more sacks than normal. He missed a wide open Kadarius Toney in the end zone early, and one of his explosive completions to Josh Hammond was about as awkward and ugly as a throw gets even if it was successful.
Franks was a willing runner once again, showing the same fire and want-to that he did against Florida State. He didn’t turn it over either via interception or fumble. He wasn’t going to turn into a Heisman-caliber quarterback against this tough a defense, but Florida didn’t need him to be one. Small mistakes and big successes: this is not a bad way for Franks to cap off this year and build for next.
Using running backs in the passing game was one of my keys to attacking this Michigan defense, and Dan Mullen apparently agreed. Beyond that, though, this was yet another game on the pile of 2018 where Jefferson was the clear top target with no discernible hierarchy below him. I’ll have to do analysis on UF’s skill position player usage at a later date.
The quarterback had the most carries, so this really is a Mullen offense after all! Snark aside, this was a great game for the two primary backs. Scarlett was near-unstoppable at times, and Perine looked the fastest I’ve ever seen him on his 53-yard touchdown run. If this was Scarlett’s last game as a Gator, and I think it probably was, the only complaint is that those two passes thrown to him weren’t additional carries.
|Team||Avg. Starting Position||Plays in Opp. Territory||Pct. Of Total|
As the advanced stats preview noted, field position probably wasn’t going to be as strong a lean in Florida’s favor as it usually is. In fact absent the drive set up by Chauncey Gardner-Johnson’s non-touchdown interception, the average starting position for the Gators would’ve been identical to Michigan’s.
A trip inside the 40 is a drive where the team has a first down at the opponent’s 40 or closer or where it scores from further out than that. A red zone trip is a drive with a first down at the opponent’s 20 or closer.
|Team||Drives||Trips Inside 40||Points||Red Zone Trips||Points|
One other thing the advanced stats preview noted is that Florida had a noticeable edge in points per scoring opportunity (trip inside the 40) than Michigan did. That tendency won out as well, as UM managed a touchdown, three field goal attempts (one missed), and an interception from their good chances.
The Gators cashed in all of theirs for points, getting two early field goals and three touchdowns afterwards. The red zone offense wasn’t ideal on those early drives, but it all worked out in the end.
Officially, Florida won the turnover battle 2-0. CGJ’s two picks, one for a touchdown, were huge plays in the game. The first one ended a scoring opportunity early in the second half when UF’s lead was a precarious 13-10, while the second was a great way to crown an excellent performance.
Michigan also blocked two punts, one of which went for a safety. Those function like turnovers even if they don’t go into the official scorebook as such. For all of UF’s advances on special teams this year, those were not what you wanted to see in the final game.
Franks left four points on the field early when he missed seeing Toney in the end zone. The defense ignored a fumble after which Michigan kicked a field goal. There were those two blocked punts, both of which turned into Wolverine points.
After all that, the Gators won by 26 points. It tied the win over Tennessee for second-largest margin of victory over a Power 5 opponent for this year, one behind the 27-point win over Florida State.
That is right: UF’s three largest wins over P5 teams came over FSU, Michigan, and Tennessee. Granted, UM is the only one of the three to even make a bowl much less win ten games, but that’s a heck of a statement for Mullen’s first season.
The defense gave up some yards but not in big chunks and not with many points to go with them. The offense was below its normal efficiency but made up for it by ripping off big play after big play. Michigan was down several important players and likely was feeling bad for itself after losing out on playoff hopes in their shellacking by Ohio State, but none of that was Florida’s fault (or in its control).
UF focused on what it could control and ended up romping to a big win. I’m willing to overlook some of the uglier details to appreciate what a great performance this was as a whole.