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Harbaugh on "High Alert" for Maryland Special Teams, Stays Mum on Smith's Status

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Without a doubt, Maryland's Will Likely will be a point of emphasis for the 22nd-ranked Wolverines.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Saturday night, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines will travel to College Park to face a team that recently lost by 21 points to MAC team Bowling Green. Even more recently, the Terrapins were clobbered by No. 23 West Virginia, losing 45-6. After watching his Wolverines shut out then-No. 22 Brigham Young 31-0, you would imagine Harbaugh has less to worry about this week. Regardless, he only had good things to say about the Terrapins.

"Maryland is a very good football team in all phases," Harbaugh said. "High alert in the special teams. The coverage units are going to have to be great, both the kickoff coverage and the punt coverage. This return game that Maryland has is one of the best I’ve ever seen in college football and so is their returner."

The returner Harbaugh is referring to is defensive back Will Likely, who had punt returns in Maryland’s first two games for touchdowns. In the season opener, Likely set a Big Ten punt return record with 233 yards.

Without a doubt, Likely will be a point of emphasis for the 22nd-ranked Wolverines.

Harbaugh also highlighted his offense’s blocking in his weekly Monday press conference. He cracked a wide smile when asked about wide receiver Maurice Ways.

"Mo (Ways) has really asserted himself," Harbaugh said. "He’s climbing the depth chart right now. He has shown up in the play. He’s finding someone to block and almost every time, he’s done the right assignment … with the way he’s blocking, we’re really impressed.

"Now, (wide receiver) Jehu (Chesson) is the best (at blocking). The effort and the aggressiveness with which he’s blocking with is the best of our receivers. You saw Jake Rudock’s touchdown, a real courage play, where he came back from running around and had effort to get a block to secure the touchdown for the quarterback."

Harbaugh is pleased with the way his fullbacks are securing the football as well.

"(The fullbacks) have been running the ball … some good yardage carries, four, five, six, seven, even eight (yards). They’ve blocked extremely well and are contributing to catching the ball out of the backfield."Joe Kerridge, Sione Houma, Henry Poggi, I would put in that category."

With the depth chart remaining largely the same from BYU to Maryland, the only question mark is running back De’Veon Smith, who injured his right ankle against BYU and left the game during the third quarter.

Harbaugh kept mum when discussing Smith, who has been seen wearing a boot since Saturday.

"He’s going to be sore," Harbaugh said. "He’ll be working through that soreness."