UM players, coaches: 10-3 not good enough, 'not here'

Angelique S. Chengelis
The Detroit News
Michigan's Zach Gentry is tackled by Florida's David Reese II in the Peach Bowl.

In the aftermath of Michigan’s Peach Bowl loss, the players returning chose to look toward next season and to what they believe are the positives and the possibilities.

Michigan finished 10-3 after a 41-15 loss to Florida on Saturday, which didn’t add the exclamation mark to the season as they hoped. The Wolverines won 10 straight after losing the season opener at Notre Dame, but then lost in a blowout at Ohio State and then to Florida.

The Wolverines were without several key starters, linebacker Devin Bush, defensive end Rashan Gary and running back Karan Higdon, who opted out of the bowl game to prepare for the NFL Draft. Early in the game defensive end Kwity Paye and linebacker Devin Gil left with hamstring issues.

There was no way the Wolverines could sugarcoat what had transpired and didn’t try.

“They were just a better team,” defensive end Chase Winovich said. “For the most part, they had us figured out. They knew what we were in and how to manipulate it. They outplayed us.”

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Quarterback Shea Patterson, who before the team left for the Peach Bowl announced he would return for his senior year, realized there would be nothing gained by picking apart the loss to Florida and instead turned his focus to the upcoming season.

“We could be sitting here and talk negative, ‘Michigan doesn’t win the big games,’ all we want,” Patterson said. “What else is there to say? We’re going to come back and work our asses off in the spring and we’re going to go from there.”

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, who completed his fourth season with the Wolverines, believes the team is close to making a major jump.

But the last three seasons, they have lost to Ohio State and then the bowl.

“My feeling about the team is we’re right there to the top, but we have to put it over the top,” Harbaugh said. “Especially in the big games at the end of the year.”

After the Peach Bowl loss, offensive-line coach Ed Warinner spoke to the linemen in the locker room and shared a similar message.

"We’re in sight of the peak,” Bredeson said of what Warinner told them. “We’re in sight of the Promised Land, whatever the hell you want to call it, and you’ve just got to finish and get there. We’ve had, look at this year, we won 10 games and that’s a pretty good accomplishment but not when you lose to Notre Dame and then win 10 straight and lose to Ohio State and lose the bowl game.

"It’s not what you want. We had a good year. We strung some big wins there in the middle, but there’s still some big games we need to finish out.”

Michigan's Shea Patterson attempts a pass against Florida during the Peach Bowl.

Bredeson said the high standards at Michigan are why he came here.

“10-3 is good at a lot of places, but not for me and not for here,” he said.

He believes the Wolverines can reach that peak in 2019.

“I think we’re going to do it,” Bredeson said. “We’ve got a lot of weapons back. We’ve got a lot of work to put in this offseason and I think the guys are fired up. Everybody is feeling pretty (terrible) right now, but once we get back to workouts and get back together, I think this is going to fuel everybody for next year.”

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Patterson said he is optimistic about next season and mentioned opening things “up a little bit”, which seems like the correct approach considering the talent the Wolverines will have back at receiver.

“Ah, man, you start open it up a little bit, you see guys like (receivers) Nico Collins flourishing, Tarik Black finally coming on the scene, and Donovan Peoples-Jones has been out there making plays. It’s all about getting guys involved in open space. That’s what the best teams do — they find a way to win one-on-one matchups and find a way to isolate their best players. And we’ve got a hell of a running back in Christian Turner and Chris Evans coming back and Tru Wilson. We’ve got a lot to look forward to.”

Twitter: @chengelis