Michigan beat the Maryland Terrapins 34-27 on Monday to improve to 4-0 on the season. Here are takeaways from the game.
Special teams luck provides fast start for Michigan
You don’t often see a doink off a helmet on the opening kickoff, and that’s what happened for the Wolverines when Matthew Hibner recovered the muff. Michigan was able to capitalize a play later when J.J. McCarthy found Luke Schoonmaker for a 10-yard touchdown. Michigan’s special teams continues to come up huge for Michigan one way or the other.
Corum has a monster day
Blake Corum carried the load for Michigan today and then some. Corum rushed for 243 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries. No other Michigan running back had more than a carry in this one, the weight of Michigan’s running game was squarely on Corum’s shoulders and he delivered, for long gains and in short-yardage situations.
Corum’s 243 yards is good enough for seventh best in school history. Corum’s vision continues to improve, he doesn’t run into brick walls and knows when to bounce it outside when necessary. Without Corum’s major effort the outcome of this game could have been much different.
McCarthy does plenty of good, with some things to clean up
Head coach Jim Harbaugh said McCarthy did a lot of great things against Maryland. He mentioned that McCarthy came through on game on the line throws. With Michigan up 24-19 in the fourth quarter McCarthy hit Ronnie Bell deep for 49 yards to put Michigan in field goal range. McCarthy also came up clutch on a 20-yard touchdown throw to Roman Wilson.
McCarthy made a great scramble run early in the game, but he’s not a finished product in this regard. He also fumbled the ball (Michigan got it back), and took a huge loss which put Michigan in a 3rd & 26 situation. McCarthy missed a couple deep balls on the day two. McCarthy acknowledged his mistakes after the game and noted the plays he wished he had back. Still, going 18-of-26 on the day for 220 yards and two touchdowns is pretty solid. McCarthy’s ceiling is evident, even in a game where he could have hit a few more deep shots. It seems like it’s only a matter of time before he consistently lands haymakers deep.
Tight end Luke Schoonmaker had a career day against Maryland, hauling in seven receptions for 72 yards and a touchdown. Schoonmaker’s presence as a threat at tight end is all the more important with Erick All on the shelf with no indication as to how long he will be out. Jim Harbaugh said he believes Schoonmaker can be one of the best tight ends in the country. Well, today was a good start.
Secondary generates big turnovers
Taulia Tagovailoa had his moments against Michigan, but the Wolverines were able to held him in check and force him into checkdowns more often than not. On a few occasions Michigan’s secondary really shined and shifted momentum. First it was D.J. Turner who had a great diving interception, then it was Rod Moore who tipped a pass to himself for a pick. We can’t leave out Mike Sainristil either, who had a pass breakup as well as an interception on a two-point conversion. Michigan’s pass-rush may not have gotten home in abundance throughout the first three quarters, but it was good to see the Wolverines secondary produce when necessary.
Outlook moving forward
We still need more data to know how good this Michigan team is, but they’re pretty good with some things to correct on both sides of the ball. They’re the No. 4 team in the nation, they’re 4-0 and have all their goals still in front of them. Michigan’s a team with a lot of playmakers on offense with a promising young quarterback, a running back who is among the best in the nation, a multitude of weapons at wideout and tight end, and an offensive line who was the best in the country last year. Defensively the team needs to figure out how to generate more sacks in the early going of games to rattle the quarterback, but there’s no denying the talent that exists on that side of the ball in the front-seven and in the secondary. In short, Michigan’s a work in progress, we don’t know how good they can become, but they’re in a good position to get better from here on out — starting at Iowa next Saturday.