Florida coach Dan Mullen hasn’t studied much film yet of Peach Bowl opponent Michigan, but he already has an idea what the Gators will be up against with quarterback Shea Patterson.
The Wolverines (10-2) will face Florida (9-3) in the New Year’s Six game, on Dec. 29 in Atlanta.
Mullen, completing his first season with the Gators, previously was head coach at Mississippi State. Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson transferred last December from Ole Miss, so Mullen studied Patterson’s film when preparing for that rivalry game.
Patterson played Mullen’s team in 2016 and was 27-of-48 for 320 yards, two TDs and two interceptions while also running for 73 yards. Patterson was injured in 2017 and did not play against Mississippi State.
Patterson completed 65 percent of his passes this fall for the Wolverines for 2,364 yards. He threw 21 touchdowns against five interceptions.
“I haven't gotten to watch him at Michigan yet, but I got to watch him a lot when I was at Mississippi State, and when he was at Ole Miss, he was a guy that could really create on his own, and one of the things that makes him dangerous as a quarterback is obviously he can execute within the offense,” Mullen said Monday on a Peach Bowl conference call. “He can run the offense and make the throws, make the plays, get the ball, make the checks, get the ball where he needs to get it to.
“But the thing that makes him a dangerous player is when he gets outside of the offense, when a play breaks down, his ability to improvise and extend plays makes him difficult to defend.”
This will be the third time in four seasons Michigan has played Florida, but the first time with Mullen as head coach. He was asked what characterizes Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh’s teams.
“They're always an intense, physical football team,” he said. “When I've gotten to see them play, they're not afraid to think outside the box. Their defense obviously comes at you from a lot of different angles. They pressure you in different ways, and then offensively obviously they're used to run power one, run, but they're very, very creative in what they do and give you a lot of different looks out there on the field.”
Michigan is seeking its 11th victory of the season after falling short, 62-39, at Ohio State in the final regular-season game. Florida won its last three games and is going for win No. 10.
“You're talking about one of the great programs in college football history, and they've had a spectacular year, being a top-10 team almost the whole season, and they were one game away from being in the College Football Playoff this year,” Mullen said. “You know, you look at that and look at everything they've accomplished and the quality of team, it should be a great competition, and obviously it would mean a lot to beat a team of that caliber.”
Mullen was offensive coordinator for Urban Meyer’s Florida teams that won two national titles. Meyer is now Ohio State’s coach and unbeaten against Michigan. Mullen said he plans to check in with Meyer to get some pointers on preparing for Michigan.
“I'm sure I'll touch base with him just to get a thought or two, you know, on — they obviously had a great plan of attacking them, were able to put a lot of points on the board, so that's a game we'll look at closely and see how they were able to do it,” Mullen said. “But I know that's a big rivalry game, so those are hard to invest all the stock in because of all the emotion of those games.”