“I'd like to thank the Outback Bowl. [Ed. A—And I’d like to thank David Nasternak for being our guy on the ground in Tampa and getting audio of the presser] Great experience. Congratulations to South Carolina on their victory.”
Did you feel it slipping away at any time, or did they get better as the game went along?
“I think they did get better. I think probably a little bit of both those things. They got better as the game went on, no doubt, and made plays to win the football game, and we didn't get the knockout punch when we needed it. We didn't take advantage of the opportunities that were there.”
Can you put your finger on why the defense was having a dominant performance and then it all changed? What did you see in terms of why it changed?
“Yeah, they made a really good throw, really good catch on the touchdown. Made another spectacular throw and catch on the second touchdown pass. Yeah, they executed well, really well, and then our errors, starting with the—really starting with the fumble by Sean McKeon, which was not Sean McKeon’s fault, that was our fault. That was a coaching error. We had the wrong personnel in there, and I should have called time out. And then the other miscues we had.”
Pat Kugler, was he banged up a little bit? Is that why you took him out of the game?
“Yeah, Pat had gotten rolled up on his ankle and gave it a go and was doing fine, but just felt like it was too much to overcome.”
When did you know about that Ben [Bredeson] wasn’t going to be able to play?
“About three weeks ago.”
[After THE JUMP: sifting through what went wrong in search of answers, shooting down NFL rumors (again), evaluating QB play and what it means for 2018]
What kind of adjustments did South Carolina's offense make in the second half that gave you guys trouble?
“I don’t know, I think that might be a better question for Will [Muschamp]. But they hit the inside seam fade. The quarterback threw a really nice ball in the red zone. Were able to create some big plays.”
You mentioned the coaching error on the McKeon play. Were there others that you wish you—were you happy with the playcalling today or was it execution or a little of both?
“Always think that just making the play when you've got the other team down, a chance to grow your lead, take advantage of those things, but we weren't able to do that. Kind of let them hang around and they took advantage of it.”
At the beginning of the year you talked about the guys getting experience. Do you feel like that’s what they got this season through a game like this that they can build on for next year?
“Yeah, there will be things to build on. I thought our guys played extremely hard. I thought they really played their guts out, and so did South Carolina. But yeah, we'll—another year of the pursuit of excellence. That's the way we'll be looking at it.”
Coach, you've had a quarterback competition going into every season so far. How heavily do bowl performances weigh into those at the beginning of next year?
“I don't know. I really I don't know how much that would weigh into it.”
How would you evaluate Brandon’s [Peters] performance today?
“You know, there's some really good, and there's a few I know he'd like to have back. But he was battling just like the rest of the guys. There was some error there, a little too much at the wrong time.”
Was Khalid [Hill] unable to play? He was in early but he was on the sideline for most of the game.
“Yeah, Khalid, he had an injury during bowl prep.”
You guys have lost three straight. Can you put a finger just on one thing or what do you think has been the reason why overall?
“Hasn’t been one thing, it's being able to just kind of sustain the momentum, keep the momentum, and then get the knockout punch. That would be what my thought would be right now.”
You talked about your message after the regular season and you talked about wins; what has to change overall for the program to get over this and [inaudible]?
“We’ll look at every aspect of it and make improvements.”
With the opportunities that have opened up today in the NFL, is there any possibility that this is the last game you would coach for Michigan?
Did South Carolina do anything on either side of the ball that you didn't expect today?
“No, I can't think of something different.”