Preview: Michigan at Maryland

Preview: Michigan at Maryland


November 10, 2017

RUSH OFFENSE vs. MARYLAND RUSH DEFENSE

Michigan has moved up to #29 nationally with 213 yards/game on the ground. They’re #38 in rushing average (4.98 yards/carry). Junior running back Karan Higdon has taken the lead with about 30 more carries than the top two other backs, and he’s now on pace to top 1,000 yards for the season (804 yards, 10 TDs). The Wolverines ran the ball all over Minnesota last week, with nearly 400 yards on the ground and three 60+ yard runs (2 by Chris Evans, 1 by Higdon). Michigan has improved its run blocking up front, partly due to the insertion of Juwann Bushell-Beatty at right tackle a few weeks ago. Maryland, meanwhile, is #77 in rush defense (175 yards allowed/game) and in yards per carry allowed (4.46). The leading tackler is senior linebacker Jermaine Carter, Jr. (6’0″, 228 lbs.) with 59, but the next three leading tacklers are all defensive backs. The leading tackler for losses is sophomore nickelback Antoine Brooks, Jr. (5’11”, 210) with 7.5, followed by Carter’s 6.0. Altogether, the Terrapins are tied for #81 in tackles for loss with 49 so far. They run a hybrid 3-4/4-3 with a standup Buck linebacker who plays like a weakside end. Coming off a week in which Michigan ran for almost 400 yards and Maryland gave up 239 rushing yards to Rutgers, the Wolverines should be in decent shape.
Advantage: Michigan

Hit the jump for the rest of the preview.

PASS OFFENSE vs. MARYLAND PASS DEFENSE

Michigan is #113 in passing offense (167 yards/game) and #108 in passing efficiency. They’re still stuck with more interceptions than touchdowns, even after Brandon Peters hit tight end Sean McKeon for a touchdown on a throwback screen last week. Peters has pretty darn good numbers (68% completions, 2 TDs, 0 INTs, and a 146.63 PER), but that’s in about seven quarters against Rutgers and Minnesota. McKeon is the leading receiver (24 catches, 253 yards, 1 TD) after wide receiver Grant Perry (22 catches, 285 yards, 1 TD) missed last week’s game with an injury. Nobody else is consistently a factor in the passing game. Michigan is #114 in sacks allowed with 27, and they rank #120 in Adjusted Sack Rate. Bushell-Beatty is a weakness in pass pro, but nobody has been particularly strong. Maryland is tied for #85 in sacks with 15, and they don’t have many sack threats since their best pass rusher, Jesse Aniebonam, is out with an injury. Carter leads the squad with 3.5 sacks. Maryland is #104 in pass defense (259 yards allowed/game) and #72 in passing efficiency defense. They are tied at #29 in interceptions (10) with cornerback Darnell Savage (5’10”, 191) and safety J.C. Jackson (6’1″, 193) leading the way with 3 picks each. The Terrapins aren’t blitz-happy like Michigan, but they will send an array of players, including their defensive backs. They have decent speed in the back of the defense, and Maryland fans like Jackson as an all-around athlete. Maryland is #105 in Adjusted Sack Rate, but with Michigan’s porous offensive line, they will probably still allow some stupid pressures.
Advantage: Maryland

RUSH DEFENSE vs. MARYLAND RUSH OFFENSE

Michigan is #7 in rush defense (102.56 yards allowed/game), and the 3.03 yards allowed per carry is #8 nationally. The only team to top 4.0 yards/carry was Penn State a few weeks ago, and last week saw Minnesota with its decent pair of running backs average 2.05 yards/carry on 44 attempts. The Wolverines have 78 tackles for loss, which is good enough to be tied at #2 in the country. (Number one, by the way, is an unlikely team: Washington State.) Viper Khaleke Hudson had 8 tackles for loss last week alone and is up to 14 for the season. He’s on pace to have the most TFLs since Brandon Graham had 25 back in 2009. Middle linebacker Devin Bush, Jr. still paces the team with 76 tackles, and the next guy is weakside linebacker Mike McCray II with 55. Maryland is #56 in rushing offense after a sizzling start (630 yards in the first two games), and they have been bottled up by some of the better defenses they’ve faced. Junior Ty Johnson (5’10”, 208) is a home run threat (703 yards, 6.6 YPC, 5 TDs), and sophomore Lorenzo Harrison III (5’8″, 195) is also a solid back (431 yards, 4.1 YPC, 2 TDs). Harrison was problematic for Michigan last season when the Terps were able to get them the ball on the edge against McCray, so that will be something to watch. As for the offensive line, there are several highly touted players but only so-so production up front. They’re #60 in Adjusted Line Yards and #124 in Standard Down Line Yards. The right side is the good side, and the left side is where Rashan Gary and Chase Winovich will eat.
Advantage: Michigan

PASS DEFENSE vs. MARYLAND PASS OFFENSE

Michigan is #1 in passing defense (142.8 yards allowed/game), #4 in passing efficiency defense, and #2 in completion percentage allowed. Opponents are only completing 46.9% of their passes against the Wolverines, which is helped by the fact that Michigan hasn’t faced many quality passing offenses. Lavert Hill, David Long, and Brandon Watson have generally been very good at corner. The problems in pass coverage have been the safeties and McCray, but they’re only problems if quarterbacks have enough time to throw the ball. Michigan is #3 in sacks and #2 in sacks per game. Six players have between 3 and 7 sacks, led by Chase Winovich. Maryland is #107 in sacks allowed with 25. It’s unclear whether the recently concussed Max Bortenschlager (6’3″, 211) or JUCO transfer Ryan Brand (5’11”, 182) will start, but Bortenschlager only completes 51% of his passes and Brand has only attempted 12 passes in his college career. They are the fourth- and fifth-string quarterbacks after Tyrrell Pigrome, Kasim Hill, and Caleb Henderson have all been injured. Maryland actually has a couple talented receivers when they can get the ball to them. D.J. Moore (5’11”, 215) has 59 catches for 820 yards and 8 touchdowns, and Taivon Jacobs (5’11”, 170) has 32 catches for 390 yards and 4 scores. If I were Maryland, I would be trying to match up Moore and Jacobs on Michigan’s safeties and seeing what I can get with corner routes and vertical routes. I think Maryland will get a few big plays, but not enough to make up for other deficits.
Advantage: Michigan

ROSTER NOTES

  • Players recruited by Michigan include: S Markquese Bell, LB Shane Cockerille, OG Terrance Davis, QB Kasim Hill, DE Melvin Keihn, CB Marcus Lewis, RB Anthony McFarland, OT Jordan McNair, OG Richard Merritt, OT Damian Prince, and CB Antwaine Richardson
  • CB Antwaine Richardson was committed to Michigan at one time
  • Players from the State of Michigan include: DE Bryce Brand (who transferred out of state), U of D Jesuit QB Ryan Brand
  • Head coach D.J. Durkin was Michigan’s defensive coordinator in 2015
  • Linebackers coach Matt Barnes was a defensive analyst at Michigan in 2015
  • Director of Player Development Kevin Glover played offensive line for the Detroit Lions
  • Coordinator of Player Development Armani Reeves is a former Michigan recruiting target
  • Defensive analyst Dan Pallante is the father of former Michigan FB/DL Brady Pallante
  • Former Michigan LB Desmond Morgan is now a graduate assistant for Maryland

LAST TIME THEY PLAYED . . . 

  • Wilton Speight was 19/24 for 362 yards and 2 TDs
  • De’Veon Smith ran 19 times for 114 yards and 3 TDs
  • Jehu Chesson caught 5 passes for 112 yards and 1 TD
  • Delano Hill made 2 interceptions
  • Ty Johnson sat out the game due to injury

PREDICTIONS

  • Michigan runs for 240 yards and 3 TDs
  • Brandon Peters rushes for a TD
  • D.J. Moore gets 80 receiving yards
  • Michigan 31, Maryland 10

18 comments

  1. Comments: 948
    Joined: 8/13/2015
    Roanman
    Nov 10, 2017 at 7:14 AM

    Wilton Speight was 19/24 for 362 yards and 2 TDs … and looked like a real viable BIG Qb and possible professional prospect. Which is why when I think about Speight, I always go back to the spring game and consider the ball he threw away out of bounds on which he looked like I feel warming up my arm playing catch with the kids. Maybe that shoulder was/is ok, I just think he might not think that shoulder is ok. Guys don’t usually come apart like Speight has, although ….. O’Korn.

    I’m coming to think more and more, that the most fragile part on a QB is his head, and I’m not talking about concussions. Which is why I have no beef at all with Harbaugh picking his spot for Peters.

    • DonAZ
      Comments: 337
      Joined: 8/12/2015
      DonAZ
      Nov 10, 2017 at 7:56 AM

      Particularly when the injury is the collarbone. I broke my left twice, and it’s a really painful injury because you can’t really “set” the bone, and while it’s knitting back together any movement can produce excruciating pain. It ruined my golf swing. Not because once heeled I couldn’t swing, but because in my mind I was still protecting the left side.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 3600
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Nov 10, 2017 at 12:53 PM

      No question that protection affects QB. Stats back this up for nearly every QB (accuracy/production with and without pressure). Moreover, we’ve seen bad OLs around seemingly inexplicable QB “regression” from promising young talents – Gardner and Hackenburg being the first to come to mind.

      How good Speight was and how good he can be is up for debate (viable or championship-capable game-manager). That the OL affected his performance this year is certain. O’Korn too. More discussion on that (probably) this offseason…

      We’ll see how Peters reacts to pressure (both from the defense and the situation), but maybe not this week. Expecting the training wheels to stay on for now, but how he reacts to getting hit could be interesting. He’s left passes way short late in both games (after a few hits).

      We may not see how Peters reacts to having a real burden on his shoulders until Madison.

    • Comments: 140
      Joined: 9/15/2015
      ragingbull
      Nov 11, 2017 at 3:07 PM

      QBs heads are the most fragile and most significant aspect, without question. thats nothing new though – great arm, crazy wheels, etc often draw much of the attention but QBs must be confident and also comfortable with the offense to take full advantage. and the head only becomes more vital as competition levels rise. shouldnt be surprise to anyone

  2. Comments: 725
    Joined: 1/19/2016
    je93
    Nov 10, 2017 at 11:00 AM

    I can’t get it out of my head that this is our last W of the season…

    • Comments: 502
      Joined: 9/13/2015
      michymich
      Nov 10, 2017 at 11:11 AM

      I agree. I see the improvement with run game but Wisconsin is better than people give them credit for albeit injuries may take their toll.

      Calling a win this week but

      UM 17
      Maryland 10

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 3600
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Nov 10, 2017 at 5:29 PM

      Beating Wisc means meeting expectations (9-3).

      Beating OSU means exceeding (9-3 but…)

      Lose to both and the season is a disappointment (no make up for losing to MSU)

      Beat both means…yeah right.

      FWIW S&P puts our chances at about 60% to come out of Wisc/OSU with at least 1 win. If you buy that probably depends on how you feel about Peters.

      • GKblue
        Comments: 218
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        GKblue
        Nov 10, 2017 at 5:42 PM

        Well I figured we would go 9 – 3. If we end up 8 – 4 I’ll be even more PO’d at the way we blew the game against MSU.

        Getting past Maryland is doable and if the odds are 60% to win one between Wisc/OSU I want to beat OSU more. Which I know doesn’t mean squat , but I’ve got a lot of company with me.

      • Comments: 673
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        WindyCityBlue
        Nov 11, 2017 at 12:52 PM

        It won’t be about Peters. It will be about Harbaugh. He will use Peters as little as he possibly can, no matter how well he’s throwing the ball. He will try to win every game we have left by putting everything on the running game and the defense, and throw almost exclusively on third and long. It won’t work, and Peters will be lucky to survive it against the two best defenses we’ve played all year.

  3. Lanknows
    Comments: 3600
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Nov 10, 2017 at 12:59 PM

    While of course I would love to see another dominating run perfromance, I think Durkin will do a better job than Fleck of forcing M to pass.

    A tighter-than-expected game might not be a terrible thing for Michigan now that the run game has asserted itself a bit.

    Stupid Predictions;

    M wins a close one. A lot of punting. Peters throws his first pick. The run game is good but Higdon falls short of 100 yards. Nordin misses another. Maryland tests our CBs and they ace their exams. 21-13.

    Stupid Wishes;
    Onwenu returns. The run game rolls behind Evans and Higdon. Michigan keeps all it’s passing game tricks under wraps for another week. Nordin is perfect. Lots of time for backup LBs. 41-6. Speight is practing rumors swirl. (fake or not)

    • Comments: 60
      Joined: 9/28/2015
      PapaBear
      Nov 10, 2017 at 1:19 PM

      What was Durkin’s plan for Rutgers? They ran for 240 yds and scored 31 pts? Anything is possible (Please see Iowa) but UM should win this game very comfortably. I do not think your Stupid wishes are far from reality. Maybe I am the stupid one!

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 3600
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Nov 10, 2017 at 5:30 PM

        Durkin going to care more about UM. Chance for a season-defining upset. Plus he knows Harbaugh well.

        • Comments: 502
          Joined: 9/13/2015
          michymich
          Nov 10, 2017 at 7:10 PM

          You beat me to the punch again LK. Maryland is going to be playing for their Super Bowl. RU is like getting up to go out to dinner with your step sister.

          Apples and oranges. UM fans are going to be surprised when Maryland is playing like Alabama came to town except UM is beatable. See IU and PU.

          Do you think Durkin and the team is watching the film and thinking to themselves, Oh, this team is great? This is a winnable game no matter the point spread. I see UM winning but it’s tough on the road with an offense that is challenged.

          I can just imagine the blitz schemes being drawn up and then you know Maryland sees on film that UM can pass pro and will play the run or short pass early in the downs and put them in 3rd and long.

          My gut tells me it’s a 4th quarter game and the UM defense is too dominant and will win it for UM.

    • Comments: 502
      Joined: 9/13/2015
      michymich
      Nov 10, 2017 at 7:05 PM

      Yes. I actually agree with everything you said. First time EVER. Well done LK.

      That was a good point. A close game on the road may wind up benefiting this team although IU was a close game. Here is what my wish list would be for tomorrow.

      I would like Maryland to sell out and stop the run. I can’t imagine Maryland letting UM run it down their throat. Force UM to pass. Blitz and make Peters go through some growing pains.

      Here is where I am very different than most people on the fan boards. Look, what does UM gain if they beat Maryland and lose to Wisconsin and OSU. Yes…another loss. Okay. Fine. Winning against Maryland is not nearly as important as finding out what UM has going forward and having a legit competition between Peters and Speight.

      I want to beat Wisconsin. I want to beat OSU. I would take 2 out of 3 games right now and call it a day IF Peters and this offense has to start trying to win games. Beating OSU would clearly get a monkey off the back of the program but this team shouldn’t win anything this year. It doesn’t deserve to go anywhere other than a solid bowl game.

      You wan’t to win and Wisconsin and at home against OSU who will put points up on the board then start force feeding this offense. Just my opinion.

      Maryland is not going to make or break this program. Overtaking PSU, OSU and MSU is the goal. Not all games are equal. Not advocating a loss but force this offense to step up. Protect the OL but take the training wheels off Peters and let him ride the bike a little bit when the sidewalk is wet.

  4. Comments: 121
    Joined: 8/12/2015
    coachernie
    Nov 10, 2017 at 9:09 PM

    Their QB will be crushed and likely not finish the game…
    that is my final prediction !
    GO BLUE!

    • Comments: 725
      Joined: 1/19/2016
      je93
      Nov 10, 2017 at 10:50 PM

      I can imagine the Maryland D giving us fits to start the game, but seriously doubt their Own moves the ball, even a little
      28-0

  5. Comments: 673
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    WindyCityBlue
    Nov 11, 2017 at 12:42 PM

    Look for Harbaugh to play ultra-conservative in this game again, if he has his way. We will attempt probably no more than 15 passes all day, and will rely almost entirely on our running game and our defense, unless we get behind. If we get up by as much as 2 TDs, the game will become an offensive snoozefest.

    That may win for us today, but it is not a recipe for success against Wisconsin and OSU, though Harbaugh will probably try to make it one.

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 3600
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Nov 11, 2017 at 7:50 PM

      Its the only recipe for success against those teams. Michigan isn’t going to beat anyone with a pulse by throwing 35 times a game.

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