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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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
- 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
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