Michigan 42, Maryland 21

Michigan 42, Maryland 21


October 7, 2018

Ben Mason (image via Wolverines Wire)

Hooray for fewer commercials. I have to say it was very nice not to have to sit through commercial break after commercial break after commercial break. I get that college football can’t exist in the form that it does without commercials, but some of the recent games have been tiresome. I don’t watch the commercials, ABC. I go to the bathroom, get a snack, or check my phone.

Hit the jump for the rest of the recap.

The passing game is coming around. Many Michigan fans have been upset with the passing game over the first several weeks of the season, but I think it’s starting to take off a little bit. This is around the same time that Jake Rudock started blowing up as a passer in 2015. Rudock was a transfer QB who needed some time to mesh with his teammates, and I think a similar thing is happening with Patterson. Maryland was #52 in pass defense and #39 in passing efficiency defense. They dropped to #68 and #67 in those categories, respectively, after Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson was 19/27 for 282 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception. Rudock really took off in game nine (337 yards, 2 TD against Rutgers) after hitting campus in the summer, while Patterson enrolled over the winter and got it going here in week six. Patterson did have a couple 3-touchdown games earlier in the year, but against weaker opponents.

Hello, Zach Gentry! Gentry had his best career game with 7 catches for 112 yards. Don’t look now, but halfway through the season, he’s leading the team in catches (20) and yards (306). Could this be the second season in a row that a tight end leads the team in receptions? (Sean McKeon led the team with 31 in 2017.) Gentry and Patterson seem to have developed some excellent chemistry, and there’s room to improve. Gentry has good speed and a large catch radius, but he misses some opportunities for additional yards after the catch.

We should officially be worried about the defensive line. Rashan Gary missed this game with an AC joint issue. (On a personal note, I had a similar issue at one time in my throwing shoulder, couldn’t throw for a month, and felt the remnants of the injury for several years afterward.) Gary battling 300-pounders on a regular basis is much more significant than anything I was doing at the time, so I can see why it would be bothersome. But Michael Dwumfour left this game with something that looked like an Achilles injury, and nose tackle Aubrey Solomon has missed the last several weeks after going through knee surgery. Then Carlo Kemp left this game late with an injury. Here are the scholarship defensive tackles still healthy for Michigan:

  • Lawrence Marshall (RS Sr.)
  • Bryan Mone (RS Sr.)
  • Donovan Jeter (RS Fr.)

I wouldn’t be 100% disappointed if Michael Onwenu started getting some snaps on defense . . .

Who is Michigan’s best cornerback? Teams won’t test David Long. Brandon Watson is putting up the best stats, and he had a pick-six on Saturday. And a lot of people think Lavert Hill is the most talented of the bunch.

Write up a lifetime contract for Ben Mason. Bring back Khalid Hill, too. I just love to see 6’4″, 254 lb. dudes who run over people, jump over people, and just generally kick people’s behinds. He just looks like a dude who doesn’t take great pleasure in his own accomplishments on the field, but who feels a football field is where he’s supposed to be. He says he loves to hit people, but instead it almost seems like he would just be really sad if he couldn’t.

Was this a regression to the mean or were these makeup calls? A big deal was made this past week about the lack of holding calls against Michigan opponents over the past couple years. Magically, Maryland got called for a holding penalty. The Terrapins also got hit with two targeting penalties, when there had been some frustration regarding some targeting calls against Khaleke Hudson in recent weeks. I think Maryland’s targeting penalties were good, and I think the same about the ones against Hudson. If you commit the foul, it should be called. In hopes of preserving the game, I really do hope all these targeting penalties change the awareness of players who are in the process of tackling, blocking, etc. I don’t think Hudson had ill intentions when he targeted players in the last few weeks, but Maryland linebacker Tre Watson really seemed to be looking for a knockout shot against Donovan Peoples-Jones, so screw that guy.

Stop putting Brad Hawkins, Jr. on kickoff return. I complained about it last week, too. This week Hawkins took the first kickoff, dropped it, started to run, and then fell harmlessly to the ground. He gained 9 yards. The guy now has 5 career kickoff returns for 61 yards (12.2 yards/return). Get him off the field, please.

I love Matt Canada as a football mind. Maryland interim head coach Matt Canada uses a lot of formations, shifts, jet sweeps, and funky personnel choices to make things difficult for defenses. He has been the offensive coordinator at a bunch of places (Indiana, Northern Illinois, Pitt, North Carolina State, and LSU), and he usually seems to be able to make things happen. LSU wasn’t happy with the results there, and Maryland doesn’t have great personnel at wide receiver or tight end, but he does a good job with what he’s got. I think he’s trying to do a little too much with all the shifts at Maryland right now, but as a football coach, they’re fun to watch.

20 comments

  1. Comments: 243
    Joined: 12/24/2016
    INTJohn
    Oct 07, 2018 at 1:12 PM

    Agree about commercials haha. I switch to another game – NW vs MSU – that was a good view when Michigan was in commercial break. Took in FSU vs Miami too – Mich fans don’t care, I get it, but thats a must game for me, too.

    Agree bout Mason, too EXCEPT – the 4th down play in the 1st quarter he looked like a ballerina tippy toeing upto the line and frankly I was like “whad I jez see?” Somebody must of called him out on it tho cause he didn’t play like that the rest of the game.
    Looking forward to Wisconsin…………..intjohn
    Good W – bad with the injuries. 5 n 1 at haf time is bout what I expected.

    • Comments: 978
      Joined: 1/19/2016
      je93
      Oct 07, 2018 at 1:30 PM

      That first run by Mason was design flaw. It’s why we had three Maryland defenders scream in, untouched

      • Comments: 8
        Joined: 9/28/2015
        Asquaredroot
        Oct 08, 2018 at 1:49 AM

        Agree with the design flaw.
        On top of having defenders unblocked, the formation with him at traditional FB depth didn’t allow for Mason to build up a head of steam.. thus the tippy toeing appearance to some when you can barely start to run and already have defenders to deal with.

        If you’re going to pretend FB is a lead-blocker and put him closer to the line, but then hand him the ball.. you have to live with the diminished returns on his impact as a runner and hope that the element of surprise takes care of the 1st couple of yards.
        .

  2. Comments: 978
    Joined: 1/19/2016
    je93
    Oct 07, 2018 at 1:35 PM

    Agree on two things: DL depth is scary shallow, and with Wisconsin coming to town, is the worst time to be short on depth. Passing game improved, especially as the game went on. It’s almost like live reps help improve chemistry, huh Lank

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 3884
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Oct 08, 2018 at 5:17 PM

      Weren’t you saying they weren’t passing enough? So, if they improved without passing that much in games…

      • Comments: 978
        Joined: 1/19/2016
        je93
        Oct 08, 2018 at 6:15 PM

        The pass game improved as the game went on, just like last week. You box a guy like Patterson in, and you don’t get his max output. Loosen the reigns a bit, and he takes off

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 3884
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Oct 08, 2018 at 9:36 PM

          Patterson wasn’t ‘boxed in’ last week – the offense came out throwing. This week – he completed his first 3 passes.

          Your argument last week was that Michigan needs to throw more so that it’s better prepared for future battles. This week you seem to be arguing that Michigan can ramp it up within a game.

          I don’t think you’re really making a coherent argument here. Patterson threw 27 passes vs 24 last week. Michigan ran 38 times against Maryland and 34 against Northwestern (not including QB runs).

          I think you’re going to grumble about aggressiveness anytime the offense struggles and claim aggressiveness works anytime the offense dos well. see your grumble early in the maryland game.

          Michigan is seeking to have a balanced offense game in and game out. They’re winning ball games against weaker opponents with a conservative offensive approach. They’ll have to get more aggressive against better teams (like they did against Notre Dame).

          • Comments: 978
            Joined: 1/19/2016
            je93
            Oct 08, 2018 at 11:19 PM

            Balance is what I’m asking for! Against SMU, all I said was used the pass to set up the run. That works both parts of our O, which we will need later
            It was you that introduced “aggressive,” because as usual, you argue against points not being made

            • Lanknows
              Comments: 3884
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Oct 08, 2018 at 11:43 PM

              After SMU you said we needed to pass early “so our OL stands a chance” in the run game. Our backs had over 5ypc and 150 yards in that game.

              In the last 2 games they’ve come out passing more to start the game. In the first they immediately punted twice and dug a hole it took the rest of the game to get out of. While it was instrumental in getting the offense going, the standard (RB) running attack was at 3.9 ypc in that game. Against Maryland they were at 4.1 ypc. Somehow you perceive this as validating of your argument (passing game will set up the run. i.e., more aggressive playcalling)

              I’m also to note some sort of benefit to “live reps” even though Patterson had a statistically superior day against SMU than Maryland or Northwestern.

              • Comments: 978
                Joined: 1/19/2016
                je93
                Oct 09, 2018 at 12:20 AM

                You do know that Evans got hurt in the 4Q, and before that last carry he was at 17-50yds (2.9ypc), right?

                “Our backs had over 5ypc and 150 yards in that game”

                • Lanknows
                  Comments: 3884
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Oct 09, 2018 at 12:31 AM

                  Yes I’m including all the carries.

            • Lanknows
              Comments: 3884
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Oct 09, 2018 at 12:27 AM

              I understand people want to feel like the passing game has improved but I have no idea if anything has changed (run or pass) since facing Notre Dame. In that game – against an elite defense – I saw a mediocre run game, a quality short passing game, and long passing game that was liable to get the QB killed.

              Going forward I thought the run game was an area that could be improved with reps. That appeared to happen to some degree last year. I thought the long pass game was unlikely to ever be good because pass pro was so bad and the personnel is what it is. Avoid risk there until you have to or your QB will die (again, see: last year).

              I still think the above, mostly. It turns out ND probably has an elite D so things may be a bit better than they looked in all fronts but especially in pass pro. BUT – the only other legit defense we faced was Northwestern and they played very conservative (sitting back in zone and gambling their DL could generate pressure without much help). I doubt Wisconsin will repeat that approach.

              So, we don’t know much more than what we knew against ND – still. The advanced stats back up the observations from ND. Mediocre run game and efficient but conservative pass game.

              Now that we’re in the GAMES THAT MATTER part of the schedule – I agree that Michigan has lean on it’s strength – passing game – to open up the run. I just disagreed they had to do that against teams they weren’t going to lose to.

              • GKblue
                Comments: 282
                Joined: 8/11/2015
                GKblue
                Oct 09, 2018 at 8:23 AM

                Lan I think the passing game has improved and is still a work in an improving process.

                The young receivers are getting game experience and developing timing with the QB learning to separate. The QB has more confidence in throwing to the TEs.
                This QB can throw from the pocket and on the move. Some of these close plays are made so by the QB able to antipate where the receiver will be and he has confidence in them, both of these has been missing in recent memory. Passes to running backs and screens may need to be used when the line is plugged against better competition.

                Also to JE: The News has quoted JH as saying Pep has called the majority of the plays. My immediate reaction is that our scripted offensive starts are heavily influenced by JH.

              • Lanknows
                Comments: 3884
                Joined: 8/11/2015
                Lanknows
                Oct 09, 2018 at 2:17 PM

                Maybe but for the sake of argument:

                Michigan’s passing game, considering the competition level, hasn’t shown it’s clearly better than it was against Notre Dame. The passing game wasn’t bad that game against a top 10 defense.
                Then, consider what Akron did to Northwestern. Was Patterson’s performance against Maryland significantly different than Temple’s QB?

                Patterson is playing well – he’s a talented kid – but we can’t ignore that the competition has been mediocre to awful since Notre Dame.

                Getting better? Sure. Everybody gets better – it’s college football. Defenses get better too. The question is if they’re getting better faster than their competition.

  3. Comments: 4
    Joined: 9/7/2018
    lightning
    Oct 08, 2018 at 4:11 PM

    Figured you would find a way to bag on Tru Wilson some. How’s Ty Isaac doing by the way?

  4. Lanknows
    Comments: 3884
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Oct 08, 2018 at 5:16 PM

    Agree on Canada – he’s fun.

    I love that Michigan is building an identity on offense. All these TDs to FBs and passing to TEs. The beefy OL. Though the dominant run game isn’t quit there, this is starting to look like a Harbaugh offense, at last. Now let’s see it continue through the next 3 games.

    I’d pump the breaks a little bit on the passing game being significantly “improved”. They’ve been solid all year. Saturday they resorted to some gimmicks and tricks that bumped up the stats but that stuff was superficial and unnecessary.

    Best to remember past Maryland beatings that had people thinking Brandon Peters (180 yards/2TD/O INT) was a good starting QB last year and talking about Wilton Speight (360 yards/2TD/0INT) as an all-conference QB in 2016. Those games were both followed up by losses for the team and now look like the career pinnacles for both QBs. Let’s hope Patterson doesn’t follow the same uh… pattern.

    Our best data point for this team remains Notre Dame. – The 5th most important game of the year. Now we bring on the 4th. The Wisconsin D doesn’t look nearly as intimidating as Notre Dames or last year’s Badgers, but the offense will give Michigan perhaps their toughest test of the year.

    Not a great time for the DL to be so beat up but Mone’s the most important guy for a battle against the Badgers. At least our 2 best run defenders (Mone and Marshall) are still standings. Glad this one is in AA.

  5. Comments: 4
    Joined: 9/7/2018
    lightning
    Oct 08, 2018 at 7:04 PM

    Oh snap! So this is a delicious stat for you….Tru Wilson has a YPC average of 6.5 which puts him ahead of your favorite RB who’s currently out of football.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 2628
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Oct 08, 2018 at 7:38 PM

      That’s awesome! Good for Tru Wilson. Thanks for visiting the site.

      • Comments: 4
        Joined: 9/7/2018
        lightning
        Oct 08, 2018 at 7:54 PM

        I should also point out that’s higher than Tyrone Wheatley. You’re welcome…..

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 3884
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Oct 08, 2018 at 9:23 PM

      This is some weak-ass trolling. I frequently disagree with Thunder’s RB takes but nobody is even talking about RBs right now.

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