Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz (5) is sacked by Michigan's Daxton Hill (30) in the third quarter at Camp Randall Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, in Madison, Wisconsin. (John Fisher/Getty Images/TNS)

Georgia pass game could get big boost if Michigan All-Big Ten safety absent from Orange Bowl

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Georgia’s passing game may be better than expected against Michigan, and it has nothing to do with who plays quarterback for the Bulldogs.

Daxton Hill, the Wolverines All-Big Ten safety, may not have made the trip, according to numerous reports surfacing on Wednesday.

Hill, a 6-0, 192-pound junior who is tied for the Michigan team lead with 2 interceptions and 8 pass breakups, and ranks second in tackles, would factor into how the Wolverines defend dynamic Georgia tight end Brock Bowers.

RELATED: Dax Hill discusses expanded role with Michigan

Michigan defensive coordinator Mike McDonald spoke of the match-up challenges Browers presents on Tuesday.

“He really plays every position; he’ll play the Z, the Y, the X, the move guy, the down guy,” McDonald said. “They’ll give it to him on reverses, screens. It’s pretty impressive. A tribute to their coaching staff for putting him in positions to affect the game.

“The difference between a tight end and a receiver is that a receiver you can build some things to find him, where he’s at, and try to get multiple guys on him. Tight end, it’s a little bit more difficult.”

The 6-foot-4, 230-pound Bowers, named one of three finalists for the FWAA Freshman of the Year on Thursday, is coming off a 10-catch game.

Georgia quarterback Stetson Bennett often locks in on Bowers, who leads the Bulldogs with 47 catches for 791 yards and a record-tying 11 touchdowns.

Michigan players on a Wednesday morning Zoom call referred questions of Hill’s whereabouts to coach Jim Harbaugh, who does not speak until Thursday.

The Wolverines, like the Bulldogs, have opted to close practices this week citing heightened COVID-19 protocol, even as the CDC is relaxing other standards.

RELATED: Georgia football confidential, reports from locked down Orange Bowl

Georgia’s practices at Barry University have also been closed, but DawgNation and the AJC have been on site to confirm that quarterback JT Daniels and receiver George Pickens were indeed at the team’s practice on Tuesday after arriving on Monday night.

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