ORLANDO – Miller Forristall had waited a long time for Wednesday.
The junior tight end had been sidelined since a throat injury, which required surgery, in the Oct. 26 game against Arkansas.
Forristall made the best of his first game back in the Citrus Bowl against Michigan with three catches for 36 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter.
“It felt really good to be back out there,” he said. “Not being able to compete in the back half of the season hurt, but to be back out there to compete with everyone was really fun.”
Not a lot of time
Alabama started out with a bang with a touchdown on the first play that took 11 seconds. It was a big play, but time of possession was not kind to the Crimson Tide the rest of the first half. Michigan held the ball for just 4:34 in the first quarter and 5:45 in the second with 23 total plays for 205 yards. Michigan, meanwhile, controlled the line of scrimmage and ran 45 plays for 286 yards and had the ball for 19:41 in the first half.
Jobe under fire
Two of Michigan’s first three pass attempts put UA cornerback Josh Jobe under duress, and understandably so.
The sophomore cornerback was the new piece of UA’s secondary, in the mix after former starter Trevon Diggs chose to skip the Citrus Bowl to start prep for the 2020 NFL Draft. Both passes, intended for Birmingham native Nico Collins, were incomplete; and end around between the two only gained two yards, thus Michigan was forced to punt.
“I knew Jobe was gonna hold his own,” defensive back Shyheim Carter said. “He’d been practicing great since we’ve been preparing for these guys, so I just knew he was going to hold his own.
“We definitely did (expect that). I told him before the game they were gonna try him early and he did a heck of a job defending those two passes.”
Change at punter
UA had its best punting day of the season in the Citrus Bowl, and it wasn’t courtesy of the person that fixed the punting woes midseason.
Mike Bernier, a senior walk-on punter, punted six times averaging 42.3 yards per punt, pinning Michigan inside the 20-yard line four times and inside the 5-yard line twice. The switch came after freshman walk-on Ty Perine was the team’s midseason punting savior: his 13 punts averaged 44.69 yards while the 14 punts from Skyler DeLong and Will Reichard combined to average 34.42 yards.
Nick Saban tied former Alabama coach Paul ’Bear’ Bryant for third on the all-time list of coaching bowl wins (all schools) with 15. Saban has coached at Alabama since 2007 and also had stops with LSU, Michigan State and Toledo. Bryant coached at Kentucky and Texas A&M before Alabama.
The late Joe Paterno at Penn State has the record (24) with former Florida State coach Bobby Bowden (22) second.
Mac Jones’ 85-yard touchdown toss to Jerry Jeudy on the Crimson Tide’s first play was the second longest in Citrus Bowl history. The No. 1 play was an 87-yard pass from Georgia’s Aaron Murray to Chris Conley against Nebraska in 2013.
Quinn Nordin’s 57-yard field goal to end the first half and give Michigan a 16-14 lead was the longest in the bowl’s history. The previous long was 52 yards by Wisconsin’s Taylor Mehlhaff against Arkansas in 2007.
The 59,746 in attendance was the most since the 2016 bowl game between Michigan and Florida (63,113).