No. 4 Michigan (4-0) takes on Maryland (3-0) this Saturday and the Terrapins’ offense will give Michigan the best challenge they’ve had through four games.
Michigan Wolverines defensive coordinator Jesse Minter was asked about Maryland’s offense and what he sees from the unit.
“Seeing a very productive offense, about 500 yards a game, 40 points a game. Really good quarterback, really good skill, a lot of speed,” Minter said.
Maryland set a single season record last year with 5,740 yards of total offense and 3,960 passing yards. Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa threw for 3,860 yards, 26 touchdowns last year and has Maryland ranked No. 10 in team passing efficiency this season.
Maryland has a veteran offensive line that Minter called good “with a couple of really talented NFL prospects”. One of those prospects is Spencer Anderson, who had an 86.6 pass-blocking grade last season from Pro Football Focus, the highest grade among tackles in the Big Ten and third nationally with at least 500 snaps.
Part of what Michigan’s defense will be on the lookout for will revolve around Tagovailoa’s arm and legs alike. Maryland has been utilizing the QB as a runner more early in the season. Tagovailoa has deceptive speed — he’s not only able to buy time with his feet, but he will also take off on a defense that isn’t paying attention. Big plays with his arm vertically and in the short-to-intermediate range as well, Taulia will be a good test for Michigan’s front seven and secondary.
“Great challenge, really good scheme,” Minter said. “I think they play to the quarterback’s strengths and kind of what he does well. It’ll be a great challenge for us.”
Michigan’s defense surrendered just 17 points through their first three games and 12 quarters. However, that wasn’t in Big Ten Conference play, which starts with Maryland. The tests get much stiffer the rest of the way.
“Conference game, first and foremost, definitely have some better pro players probably than what we’ve seen so far,” Minter noted. “I’m excited to see how we play against this team.”
If Michigan plays admirably against Tagovailoa and Maryland’s offense it will give them momentum going on the road versus Iowa the following week. One step at a time.