Michigan 31, Maryland 24

Michigan 31, Maryland 24

November 20, 2023
Mike Sainristil (image via Michigan Athletics)

A win is a win. Michigan has at least one of these every year, where the team overcomes a bit of a scare from an inferior team. Last season it was a close game against Maryland and a narrow victory over Illinois. The near loss to the Illini obviously didn’t turn out to be disastrous for the Ohio State game in 2022, and maybe this one won’t, either. I don’t think this game will determine the outcome of the OSU contest. Maryland was a bit of a trap game between Penn State and Ohio State, and maybe the team wasn’t fully locked in. They seemed to be loaded for bear early in the game when they jumped out to a 23-3 lead, but they seemed to sputter and let Maryland get back in the game. Clearly, though, the team will have to play better to beat the Buckeyes.

Hit the jump for more.

J.J. McCarthy didn’t look like himself. I don’t know what’s going on with McCarthy, but he didn’t look healthy on Saturday, and then whispers from behind the scenes suggested he was indeed battling an injury. He did get dinged up against Penn State, but while that seemed like a lower body injury, his throwing motion seemed to have a hitch on Saturday. Throwing starts with the feet, so maybe that was still the issue. But his release seemed a little off, and he let go of some wobbly balls that would have been perfect spirals early in the season, wind be damned. He finished 12/23 for 141 yards, 0 touchdowns, 1 interception, and 2 carries for -7 yards. Over the past two weeks, he’s 19/31 for 201 yards, 0 touchdowns, and 1 interception. Hopefully whatever’s ailing him can heal up in the next few days.

Speaking of quarterbacks, has Taulia Tagovailoa gotten worse? A couple years ago, it seemed like Tagovailoa was a beast. But his yards per attempt have dropped from 8.3 in 2019 and 2020 to 8.1 to 7.7 and now 7.4 this year. I still think he’s one of the top few quarterbacks in the Big Ten, but he makes a lot of silly mistakes and turnovers. That’s been the knock on him forever, and he hasn’t progressed. He threw 2 picks to Mike Sainristil and had an ugly fumble that was returned for a touchdown by Derrick Moore.

Sainristil has more picks than anyone in the last decade. The last time anyone matched or exceeded Mike Sainristil’s 5 interceptions so far this season was a full decade ago when Blake Countess had 6 interceptions as a sophomore in 2013. Sainristil had 2 in this game and almost had a third on the sideline, but he couldn’t quite stay inbounds. The surprise has worn off, but it truly is amazing that he was a wide receiver two seasons ago and is now one of the better defensive backs in the country, tied for #2 in the country in INTs.

Karsen Barnhart is borderline unplayable. This is tough for me to say because Barnhart has been such a key backup for most of his time at Michigan that he’s stepped in at various times to fill in for injured players. In fact, he earned his “permanent” starting job last year after Trente Jones got hurt. But Barnhart spent much of his first few years on campus playing guard, and that appears to be his best spot. Personally, I think he lacks the strength to get much movement on the interior, and his pass blocking isn’t holding up on the edge. He was a turnstile against Penn State, and he wasn’t much better against Maryland. Ohio State has a couple decent edge rushers in Jack Sawyer and J.T. Tuimoloau, and I don’t see that going well for Barnhart. He started off at right tackle against the Terps, but when Myles Hinton was injured – with LaDarius Henderson already out – Barnhart had to flip over to the left side. Supposedly both Henderson and Hinton will be back for Ohio State, but they may not be fully healthy. I have not been impressed with Jeff Persi yet, and he’s the next best guy. Michigan has recruited well on the offensive line, but truly dominant tackles have been hard to come by the past few years.

What a great win for Connor Stalions . . . I mean Jim Harbaugh . . . I mean Sherrone Moore. Michigan’s winning keeps getting attributed to different people, so I’m losing track. Harbaugh went 10-3 in his first two seasons at Michigan back in 2015 and 2016, and the winning has basically continued ever since, except for 2020. Then he started winning 1 or 2 more games per year, and suddenly it was thanks to Connor Stalions. But now Michigan hasn’t had Harbaugh for five games this season, and the Wolverines keep winning. (Granted, Harbaugh is able to coach during the week but not on game days.) Maybe Michigan’s coaching staff and players are just good.

1,000 wins, huh? That’s a lot of wins. There’s some talk that some wins might get vacated, and I have no idea about that. You might notice that I haven’t spent much time talking about the sign-stealing issues, and that’s because I don’t really care that much. It’s troublesome, sure, and I wish it wasn’t such a distraction. I wish Jim Harbaugh was on the sideline. I wish Michigan wasn’t getting dragged through the mud. But the bottom line is that Michigan got to 1,000 before anyone else. Did Michigan do shady things here and there to get to 1,000? YES! You can investigate your local Chick-fil-A or barbershop or church and find some shady things. No program is 100% clean. Maybe the NCAA will throw the book at Harbaugh and Michigan, but if they wanted to investigate Notre Dame or Ohio State or Alabama . . . nobody’s escaping an investigation unscathed.

Beat Ohio State.

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