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Turning Point: Michigan’s strong start on special teams vs. Maryland

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Michigan’s special teams made two noteworthy plays in the first half vs. Maryland.

NCAA Football: Michigan at Illinois Michael Allio-USA TODAY Sports

The Michigan Wolverines 38-7 win over the Maryland Terrapins was a convincing one, but there are certain moments in any game that greatly influence the trajectory of how the game unfolds.

This week we point to two turning points in the game, both in the first half, both on special teams for Michigan.

The first play of the game is turning point No. 1.

Michigan received the ball first and Giles Jackson took the kickoff return 97 yards for a touchdown to put Michigan up 7-0 before their offense or defense took the field.

“You know we always try to start the game off fast and that was a big emphasis coming into this game, on the road,” Shea Patterson said. “It was cool to see him (Jackson) take off and set the tone for the game.”

“His confidence is really high right now,” Jim Harbaugh said. “He just hit it.”

Jackson’s score set the tone and allowed Michigan to start fast, so to speak.

Turning point No. 2 is the fake punt run by Michael Barrett.

With a 4 & 1 situation with Michigan up 14-0 in the game but needing a spark to increase their lead, Jim Harbaugh decided they wouldn’t be punting. Instead, they trusted Michael Barrett to run the ball up the gut on a fake punt to get a first down.

“We thought we could get it,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve practiced it now for several weeks. We were waiting for a fourth and one, fourth and two type of situation on our own side, and it was there so we took advantage of the work we had put in. I thought it was a good time to call it and it helped us win this game.”

The run by Barrett went for 14 yards and it didn’t take much time for Michigan to score after the conversion. Patterson hit Nico Collins for 51 yards and two plays later an 8-yard Zach Charbonnet touchdown run put the Wolverines up 21-0.

“That fake punt, we needed it pretty badly,” linebacker Josh Uche said. “It kinda killed their (Maryland) momentum and killed their spirits.”

The special teams gave up a kickoff return touchdown of their own in the second half, but Jackson’s return and Barrett’s run were great plays by the Michigan special teams unit.