The Wolverines traveled to College Park, Maryland Saturday afternoon to confront the Maryland Terrapins in a 3:30 PM football game.
The Wolverines were fresh from a soggy, but very necessary victory over the Golden Gophers in Michigan Stadium in their last outing, while the Terrapins suffered a humiliation by the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, 31-24 in their last outing. The Wolverines are 6-1 against the Terrapins.
MARYLAND’S QBs HAVE BEEN SUFFERING INJURIES THIS SEASON: The Terrapins have lost three QBs this year, and are now on their fourth with Ryan Beard. The Wolverines were not in as much of a bind in the quarterback department as Maryland Saturday, but the position has also been a problem this season for M.
As you know, the Wolverines lost their season starter, Wilton Speight, to injury. His understudy, John O’Korn played himself into a starting position against Purdue, and then out of the starting position two games ago. He was replaced the game before last by last Saturday’s starter, Brandon Peters. It appears Peters has cemented that role, as he started against the Terrapins. He has solidified his future somewhat against the Terps. He was solid, but not spectacular. His big chances loom in the immediate future.
While he may or may not develop into the last word in college quarterbacks, he has displayed poise and a knack for the position.
His fakes are better than his predecessors, he has decent wheels and escape ability, and can throw accurately on the run. He appears to have great poise. The question remains as to whether he is a master at tossing the long ball. He hit a beautiful thirty-three yard TD. Still, it will take more time to satisfactorily answer that question.
Time and action will tell that story. It will be only a short time before we get a positive answer. He had a nice game against the Terps. He threw for 145-yards passing, threw no interceptions, and tossed two TDs. He had a calm, workmanlike game, and took his licks without flinching. It appears he is ready for more, as the Big Ten money games of the regular season are immediate.
Peters tossed for 145-yards and two TDs, with no interceptions.
All the musical quarterback chairs didn’t belong to the Terrapins, but the depth at the position seemed definitely in the Wolverine’s favor Saturday. For three quarters of the game the Terp offense was stifled by the Wolverines’ ability to stuff the run, hurry the QB, and prevent completions.
It seemed at the end of the first half the Wolverines defense was going to pitch a shut-out, and they also owned 200-yards of offense, plus a 4-touchdown lead. It proved out that the Wolverines had scored more than enough points to win, but the third quarter took some of the polish off their win. The wheels came off the both the Wolverine’s offense and defense for much of the third quarter. The Terrapins held the ball for 11 minutes of the quarter.
MARYLAND’S THIRD QUARTER SURGE WON BATTLE OF THE STATS: Maryland produced 340-net yards rushing and the Wolverines 305-yards. The Terrapins passed for 160-yards and 1 TD and the Wolverines passed for 145 and 2 TDs. The Terps totaled 340-yards, and the Wolverines 305-yards. This can be a source of pride to the Terps, and a source of wonder and concern to the Wolverines, but it is still the final score that counts.
THE TERRAPINS HAD NOT PROSPERED AT DEFENSE LATELY, AND THE WOLVERINES HAVE: One of the Terrapins’ own writers offered that opinion regarding the state of their defense pregame.
The Wolverines, on the other hand were ranked fourth nationally in total pass defense (an unexpected pleasant surprise), and their defense had been hell against the run. Pass has pro remained a work in progress, and to some extent this was still true Saturday. In the game against the Terps in the first half, M’s defense held the Terp offensive to 112-yards.
For three quarters their dominating mode prevailed, but that inexplicable third quarter reared its ugly head to raise the sparse productivity of the Terrapin offensive and defensive efforts for three quarters to 340-yards. That total surpassed the Wolverines total for the day by 35-yards.
On the scoreboard, the Wolverines were never in real trouble during this game. Maryland never led.
THERE ARE NO SECRETS FOOTBALL WISE BETWEEN MARYLAND’S HEAD COACH DJ DURKIN AND COACH HARBAUGH: They know each other well with DJ having acted as M’s defensive coordinator in Jim Harbaugh’s inaugural season.
Durkin is well acquainted with M’s schemes, preferences, and roster, or at least the better part of them. Both are dedicated competitors, with an iron will to win.
Durkin wanted a signature win, and Harbaugh could only want to avoid a signature loss. A win over the Terps was mandatory, but a win over the sometimes- struggling Maryland Terps simply could not qualify as a signature win for the Wolverines this season, however necessary it was.
The Wolverines could have added to the misery of Maryland with a late TD, but Harbaugh called off the dogs, oops, Wolverines, and they settled the game with some good last- minute sports-man ship by taking a knee rather than taking a shot. DJ and his staff are to be complimented on their good half-time adjustments against the Wolverines.
LEST WE FORGET: Kaleke Hudson, Michigan’s so-called Viper (hybrid LB and safety), bit his team’s last opponent, the Gophers, to the tune of 8 TFLs. This went with 15 tackles, 3 sacks, and a forced fumble.
This defensive tour de force earned a unique grade at of 99.9/100 from Pro Football Forum (a.k.a PFF). He was also on the PFF team of the week. 8 TFS set a new Big Ten record and tied the NCAA record. He was co-Big Ten defensive player of the week.
The above stats are the latest official rendition of Michigan statistics regarding Hudson’s performance against the Gophers. Post-game tape review showed some TFLs and tackles credited to others in error. The stats now stand corrected.
While it is not surprising that he did not match his heroics of last week, he had a very solid performance against the Terps, and contributed to the victory. His late interception sealed the win.
His best is yet to come. It looks like he will be a Viper to remember.
M’S DEFENSE STOOD TALL FOR THREE QUARTERS: They produced two game changing interceptions, a remarkable goal line stand, and produced an outstanding first half performance. David Long changed the game with his critical first half interception and 80-yard return, and otherwise contributed. Tyree Kinnel has 6 solo stops and 4 assisted, for a total of 10. Hurst had 5 solos and 4 assisted for a total of 9. He had the Wolverines’ only sack on the day. Chase Winovich had 3 TFLs, and the team had 7 TFLs. They harried the Terp QB for three quarters, and caused him to hurry and inaccurately throw the ball to M’s Long.
THE OFFENSE PROVIDED 35 POINTS WHICH MEANS THEY HAD A GOOD DAY: In the air: Zach Gentry led the receivers and TEs with three snags for 63-yards with a TD long of 33. Karan Higdon caught 2 for 40-yards, with a long of 35.
The corps of receivers were quiet for the most part, as the tight ends and backs carried the load.
On the ground: Chris Evans had an effective day with 13 carries for 80-yards and a TD. His long was for 17-yards. He carried the load in the absence of the banged-up Karan Higdon later in the game. Higdon had 10 carries for 50-yards, with a long of 16. Kareem Walker had 7 efforts for 23-yards.
HOW THEY SCORED: Only the Wolverines scored in the first quarter. Peters conducted an impressive 9-play 67-yard, 9-play TD drive on the Wolverines second possession.
The big play was a Peters 21-yard pass to TE Gentry who roared down the sideline to the Terp five. Henri Poggi finally got the ball across the goal as he bulled it in from the two. M-7, Terps-zip. This had to be a big moment for Henri. He hails from Maryland.
A Peters scramble resulted in a vintage Karan Higdon catch of a short pass. He turned it into something memorable. Evading tackles he cut to the opposite side of the field and sped for 35-yards. In addition, Maryland earned a 15-yard penalty for roughing the passer. Then it was up to Chris Evans who contributed 4 runs to complete the TD drive of 5-plays for 66-yards. In a nice display of toughness and ability, Chris jumped over, and into the pile at the goal line for the much needed six. M-13, Terps-zip.
Next the Terps tried a fake punt that turned out non-productive due to recognition by M’s punt return team. Great field position is often rewarded, and this was no exception. Peters threw a beautiful pass to a sprinting and open Zach Gentry, who produced the 33-yard TD. M-21, Terps-zip.
After a review of a stunning Terp reception on a third down long pass, it was confirmed it was not a catch. This was a controversial call to Durkin and Maryland fans. This multiplied Durkin’s blood pressure elevation, while it was therapeutic to mine, and other M fans pressure.
The Wolverines got the ball back, and a little later Josh Metellus blocked a Terp punt. M’s Devin Gil covered it at the Terp 29. Karan Higdon, bulled through three tackles, toting the ball 16-yards to the 19-yard marker. A 3-yard toss to McKeon got six. Suddenly it was half time with the Wolverines leading 28-zip, and all was well with the Wolverine Nation.
Late in the first half it appeared the Terrapins were about to snap up a late half TD via their best drive of the half, which was an 11-play drive. David Long put this worry to rest by snagging a Terp pass in the end zone, and running with it 80-yards.
The Wolverines did not score because the slumping Quinn Nordin missed a 31-yard field goal. A golden opportunity for six had been lost as well as for the three.
Nordin is into a recent habit of missing FGs he should convert. This comes at a very inconvenient time for the Wolverines, as they head into their last two, and most critical games of the season. Nordin drew Harbaugh’s ire, or at least his intense commentary, after this miss.
Maryland received the ball for the second half, and their offense and defense did an about face. They were moving the chains with a change in scheme offensively, and holding the ball. But when they got to the M one yard line, and had possessed the ball for nearly 11-minutes in the quarter, the Wolverines held and relinquished only a 20-yard FG. M-28, Terps-3. The shut out had vanished, but the win still looked good.
The Terps then got a TD on a 10-yard pass to make it 28-10.
Peters faced a critical third and 12 in Michigan territory and solved the problem by hitting Chris Evans for 20-yards and a first down. This was the beginning of the end for any Terp hopes of victory, and M’s situation was aided by a pass interference call on the defense on third down.
From the 33-yard line, Chris Evans hurdled a would-be tackler, to get 14-yards. Next, he broke three tackles and completed a tough 17-yard run for the capper. The final score was M-35, Terps-10.
Kaleke Hudson’s interception slammed the gate shut.
TAKE AWAY: Crunch time has arrived. The Wolverines’ trip to Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, Wisconsin next Saturday will be a battle of somewhat similar styles, and will likely be a bruising contest in which the Wolverines will be significant under dogs to the undefeated Badgers.
The Wolverines will need to put all together for four quarters of their best football on offense, defense, and special teams, in order to trap the undefeated Badgers in their own lair.