It wasn’t a bad day for Michigan on Saturday, but it sure was a football fight.
Quarterback J.J. McCarthy was 18-for-26 for 220 yards and two touchdowns.
Running back Blake Corum rushed for 243 yards, seventh best in Michigan history.
Michigan’s defense had two clutch interceptions.
Through the first three games of the year, Michigan steamrolled their competition, winning by a combined score of 166-17. Victory didn’t come as easy for the Wolverines in Week 4, the game went down to the wire, with Michigan prevailing 34-27.
“Maryland’s defense is good, Maryland’s offense was good. It wasn’t like we were playing some scrub team,” Corum said after the win.
It was a battle against the Maryland Terrapins, a team that played inspired football a year after losing to Michigan 59-18. Maryland came into the game with a top 20 passing offense and quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa did enough to keep the chains moving, keep the time of possession in Maryland’s favor, and generate scoring drives. Michigan’s defense was tested.
Offensively, the Wolverines faced adversity for the first time this season as well.
JJ. McCarthy fumbled the ball, luckily Michigan maintained possession. McCarthy fumbled the ball again, and Michigan maintained possession again, but it put Michigan in a 3rd & 26 situation. McCarthy said after the game those are two plays he really wishes he had back.
Running back C.J. Stokes fumbled his lone carry of the game with Michigan driving down the field. Unfortunately, this one was a turnover.
McCarthy missed a few deep throws on the day that could have led to points and big gains. After the game, McCarthy said those were all on him. His eyes are on improvement.
Defensively Michigan had a facemask penalty that extended a Maryland drive that led to three points. Maryland produced 23 first downs, a reflection of the fight this game became.
It was a good time for Michigan to get punched in the mouth. A good time to get popped and have a little blood loss.
Michigan’s going to get hit again this season, it’s inevitable, so it was time for them to go from sparring sessions to actually going full blast.
In the film Rocky Balboa, Sylvester Stallone delivers a great phrase that’s fitting for the Michigan team.
“It ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. It’s how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”
Football isn’t a symphony where every note will be divine. Sometimes it’s brutal and ugly. There are ebbs and flows. What matters is how a team recovers from their mistakes, what they can learn from them, and how they can grow from them.
“It was gritty,” head coach Jim Harbaugh said. “Four quarters of every possession, every possession mattered. Every possession was like a basketball game. Every one of them mattered. Guys hung in and fought. You have character-type building games, a product of the club today.”
Harbaugh noted the team has some things to work on, and what team doesn’t in Week 4? Michigan’s 4-0, they’re the No. 4 team in the country. Things could be a lot worse, ask Michigan’s rival Michigan State and head coach Mel Tucker, a team that’s now 2-2 on the year.
Where Michigan goes from here will define their season, but it’s hard not to find some positive takeaways from the game. While McCarthy may have missed some deep shots, he also delivered clutch deep balls in the fourth quarter when Michigan absolutely had to have them. Harbaugh said McCarthy “did a lot of great things” and made some “game on the line throws”. He did.
Blake Corum is leading the nation in rushing touchdowns with nine and may be a legitimate Heisman contender. Michigan has weapons on offense, their secondary looks solid, tight end Luke Schoonmaker had a career day with seven receptions, and linebacker Junior Colson had a career day with an impressive 13 tackles. All good things.
There are far more silver linings than black clouds from Michigan’s performance against Maryland, a good football team that earned respect nationally in an entertaining game. Michigan now has to go on the road to Iowa, and it won’t be long before they’ll be facing tests against Penn State and Michigan State.
Taking a haymaker in the game of football is inevitable, it’s about how a team deals with it and learns to block those blows in the weeks to come. With that in mind, it was a good time for Michigan to get punched in the mouth. It should only make them stronger.