Michigan’s defense has been phenomenal to start the season, giving up just 17 points through their first three games.
The next chapter of Michigan’s season is about to start, and the tests get stiffer from here. Starting with the Maryland Terrapins on Saturday.
Maryland has an offense that ranks 20th in passing offense and 10th in team passing efficiency. The Terps passing attack is led by Taulia Tagovailoa, brother of Miami Dolphins quarterback and Heisman winner Tua Tagovailoa. Taulia is a fine college quarterback in his own right and presents the stiffest challenge Michigan’s faced at QB to this point in the season.
“They have a quarterback that can throw the ball, he can run around, he has pretty good run ball handling skills,” Michigan linebacker Michael Barrett told the media on Monday.
Tagovailoa has thrown for 895 yards so far this year with six touchdowns and two interceptions along with 53 rushing yards and a score. The 5-foot-11 quarterback presents a challenge as a runner as well, possessing the ability to extend plays with his feet and make something out of nothing.
Michigan’s defense realizes what it will take to contain Tagovailoa and the Terrapins offense.
“They have an air raid team. They want you to play more loose and drop back. And then also kinda beat you with a running quarterback and try to throw the run game in there every now and then,” Barrett said. “You have to keep that in mind as you’re playing them. Keep your rush lanes tighter, be more disciplined in those aspects.”
Barrett was asked what the defense is doing to prepare from a conditioning perspective. Maryland will mark the first opponent that Michigan will keep their starters in for most, if not the entire game. Barrett said that they’re focusing on flying to the ball in practice every single play.
Tagovailoa had a good season in 2021, throwing for 3,860 yards, 26 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. However, one of his least productive games was against Michigan. Tagovailoa had his second-lowest completion percentage of the season versus the Wolverines (57.6%), throwing for 171 yards with one touchdown and one interception. The Wolverines won the game 59-18.
Some are expecting a shootout in this one between Maryland and Michigan’s offenses, but the defense will be looking to contain Tagovailoa like they did last year and win the game in convincing fashion. Maryland’s offense has numerous weapons at running back (Roman Hemby) and receiver (Rakim Jarrett, Jeshaun Jones, Jacob Copeland) to aid Taulia’s attack this time around. If Michigan bottles up Tagovailoa it would be a sign of good things to come from the unit.