After a hot start to the season, Michigan’s upcoming opponent, the Maryland Terrapins, have been a brutal watch since Week 3.
They started 2-0, but the Terrapins have crawled to 1-5 since, with the only win coming against Rutgers (shocker!). It started with a 20-17 loss to Temple on the road. Since then, they have given up 59 points to Penn State, 52 to Minnesota, 40 to Purdue and 34 to Indiana.
It has been a rough stretch for new head coach Mike Locksley, to say the least, but they have another shot to redeem themselves at home this weekend against Michigan.
Among the issues the Terrapins are going through right now, the biggest issue at quarterback. Josh Jackson started the year as the No. 1 guy, but an injury forced backup Tyrrell Pigrome into the starting spot. Pigrome was injured last week against Minnesota, so third-stringer Tyler DeSue went in, despite Jackson playing earlier in that game. DeSue was 4-of-12 for 88 yards and 1 touchdown.
The running game is where Maryland is usually strongest. Sophomore Anthony McFarland, who has battled a high ankle sprain most of the season, is now 100 percent healthy, despite playing through the injury and only missing one game. He has 378 yards and 7 touchdowns on the year. Another dangerous runner is junior Javon Leake, who has 543 yards and 7 touchdowns.
Maryland junior running back Tayon Fleet-Davis is a bigger threat in the receiving game than on the ground. He is third on the team in catches (13), second in receiving yards (172) and tied for third in touchdowns (2). He isn’t as small as most pass-catching running backs (6-foot, 217 pounds), so he will be a major challenge for Cameron McGrone and the rest of the Wolverine linebackers.
The biggest play-maker in the receiving corp this season for Maryland has been sophomore Dontay Demus Jr., who has 31 receptions for 487 yards and 4 touchdowns. At 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, he is your classic big-bodied receiver who can go up and catch a pass while being covered one-on-one by a corner.
Michigan will also have to keep an eye on tight ends Chigoziem Okonkwo (16 catches, 164 yards, 2 touchdowns) and Tyler Mabry (11, 142, 3).
The defense has struggled big time for Maryland, especially in the month of October, but there are still a few guys to single out here, specifically the linebackers.
Senior linebacker Keandre Jones is one of the best in the Big Ten, with 39 total tackles, 10 for loss, 6 sacks, 1 forced fumble and 1 fumble recovery. Sophomore linebacker Ayinde Eley has also been all over the place making plays. He leads the team in tackles (61) and has 4 tackles for loss, 3 pass breakups, 1 interception and 1 forced fumble. Finally, there is sophomore linebacker Chance Campbell, who has 4.5 tackles for loss, 3 pass breakups and 1 fumble recovery.
If you hadn’t noticed, the trend with those linebackers is recovering fumbles. If you also hadn’t noticed, Michigan has had issues on offense fumbling the football. Albeit the Wolverines haven’t coughed up the ball too much since the Illinois game, if that becomes an issue again, Maryland may be able to bank on those opportunities.
But at the end of the day, I would be surprised if Michigan didn’t win by multiple touchdowns. They are, as of writing this, a 20.5-point favorite in Vegas, and I think they could easily cover the spread. Michigan has not lost a game to Maryland since Harbaugh took over, outscoring the Terrapins 164-34.
The offense is in a groove right now, and the defense just overpowered the hell out of Notre Dame. If Michigan limits the mistakes, whether it be turnovers on offense or giving up big plays on defense, this should be another game in the win column for the Wolverines.