October 4, 2015 by Peter Putzel
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The defense was exceptional once again, and we saw a new name produce for the offense.
These pieces should be pretty easy to write, but at the moment they are becoming a little monotonous what with all the "Ooh, look at the defense, they're soooo good." Okay, I actually really love that part. DEFENSE! And once again, Jake Rudock did just enough to efficiently manage the game and keep the chains moving after what seemed like a first half of 1,000 punts.
Defensive Game Ball(s)
Since starting these weekly pieces, I've taken the easy way out on the defensive side of the field and given the game ball to the entire unit. It's pretty obvious why that is, too, right? I mean, come on! the defense has been playing absolutely lights-out. Back-to-back 105-yard games!? The game ball has to go to everyone, doesn't it? Let's just say everyone gets the highest of honorable mentions, but this week, for as hard as it's going to be, I'll have to pick one person.
Although Jeremy Clark intercepted Caleb Rowe earlier in the game, two Michigan fumbles really took the air out of the game, and it's possible that I fell asleep. Desmond Morgan also picked off Rowe, but the Wolverines failed to score off the turnover. It was Jourdan Lewis's interception of Rowe that really changed the momentum of the game and gave everyone a case of the good feels. The Wolverines subsequently scored touchdowns on their next two possessions to stretch the tenuous 6-0 lead to 21-0.
Honorable Mention: Desmond Morgan not only had a pick, but led the defense with five solo tackles (nine total) and another pass broken up. Fellow linebacker Joe Bolden added another four tackles, with one for lost yardage. Maurice Hurst, Jr., Matt Godin, and Willie Henry added three sacks to the stat sheet as well. It should also be noted that Mario Ojemudia left the game with what has now been reported as a tear of his Achilles. And a shout-out to the Special Teams unit as they held Will Likely to only 33 yards on seven returns.
Offensive Game Ball
Jake Rudock may have thrown another interception on Saturday, but he did pretty well overall with managing the game and making smart plays...okay, maybe he got lucky on a couple of occasions, but he survived. With De'Veon Smith out of the lineup the rushing duties would fall on Ty Isaac, but after a couple fumbles, we saw another name emerge...
Hype and promise, but not much for production until Saturday. Johnson came into the game and gave the Wolverines a spark of life on the ground, touching the ball 13 times for 68 yards (5.2 average) and a TD. He broke one for 20 yards at one point and showed us his potential as a runner, but he also nabbed a 31-yard touchdown catch. Nice day, young man.
Drake Johnson scores on 31-yard slip screen to extend Michigan's lead to 14-0 vs. Maryland. https://t.co/zU3qhhNrmY— Drew Hallett (@DrewCHallett) October 3, 2015
Honorable Mention: Jehu Chesson. He had a deep ball in his hands earlier in the game, but let it hit the ground. He then scored on a 66 yard rush for TD. Go figure.
October 3, 2015 by Andy Hutchins
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There are few better feel-good tales in all of college football.
October 3, 2015 by Nick Bodanyi
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An ugly game, in ugly weather, but this Michigan team has learned how to do whatever it takes to get a win. Michigan is 4-1.
What started as a gut check turned into yet another validating win, and Harbaugh's Wolverines proved once again that they can win even when the cards are stacked against them.
Whether it was the weather, which contributed to a turnover-riddled affair, or injuries to De'Veon Smith, Mario Ojemudia, and Channing Stribling, or a tough road atmosphere against a spirited opponent - not to mention more struggles by Jake Rudock - there was a lot that held Michigan back from a truly dominating performance. But this Michigan squad was not going to be denied from getting another win.
The Wolverines now move to 49-12-2 in Big Ten openers since the 1953 season, and while this wasn't a BYU-level performance, the Wolverines still kick off Big Ten play on a fairly encouraging note. Northwestern looms after this, and Michigan State will travel to the Big House the week after. It only gets tougher from here. Luckily, Michigan is built tougher than most.
Next Man Up
This game was not without a price, as Mario Ojemudia left the game with a lower leg injury.
Mario Ojemudia needing crutches to go back to the locker room.— Maize n Brew (@MaizenBrew) October 3, 2015
Football season always comes with big losses, and if Mario is done for an extended period of time, there's no doubt this hurts Michigan's defense. But Michigan will find an answer somewhere else, just like they did today in lieu of De'Veon Smith and Channing Stribling. Drake Johnson stepped up for his 'sore' and recovering teammate, while Jeremy Clark got a very nice interception while filling in for Channing.
This offense relies on the ground game.
It was a rough start without De'Veon moving the chains, and it didn't help that Smith's back-up, Ty Isaac, put the ball on the turf twice, losing one. Jake Rudock used his feet a couple times to good effect, and Drake Johnson put the offense on his back late, getting runs of 20, 19, and 12 yards in the final fifteen minutes.
But this offense struggled through the air without a good play-action. Deep throws were often dropped or overthrown, and Maryland defenders were all over Michigan's screen game. No one caught more than 4 passes, and there were only 180 pass yards in the game.
This defense relies on nobody.
On the flip side, none of Maryland's receivers had more than Levern Jacob's 3 catches, and there were only 10 receptions overall in 36 passes. This was a dominant, dominant performance, just like last week and the week before. Michigan has now out-gained every single opponent it's faced: +18 yards to Utah, +267 to OSU, +142 to UNLV, +343 to BYU, and +273 to Maryland. Michigan's defense has three games in which it's allowed fewer than 140 yards; only Utah has gotten more than 235.
Quietly, there are some All-American seasons brewing.
Jake Butt had a quiet stat line - only four catches for 61 yards - but he made big plays and led this team in receiving yards and receptions. Besides, tight ends don't need really big numbers to end up with All-American recognition, and anybody who's seen Butt play knows he's a special caliber.
And Butt is not the only one - cornerback Jourdan Lewis has been a complete terror for opposing offenses, shutting down his side of the field and playing with the focus and energy of a veteran leader. Jabrill Peppers has played spectacularly as well, and Desmond Morgan put on a show for those who like disruptive, nasty, all-out linebackers.
What were your takeaways? Did Michigan follow up its 'breakout' win over BYU adequately? What does Michigan have to show against Northwestern to prepare for Sparty?
October 3, 2015 by Anthony Broome
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Win, stay healthy and come home.
Michigan heads to College Park for a date with the Maryland Terrapins on Saturday afternoon. It looks like the rain will hold off, but swirling winds could be a factor in the outing.
Here's what Michigan's objectives are for their quest to get to 4-1 on the season:
Play a Clean Game
Michigan did not turnover the ball against BYU and it led to a near-textbook day of execution on the offensive side of things. With inclement weather likely for kickoff, it will be more difficult than usual to take care of the football, but it would really cement the Wolverines as the favorite in this game if they can keep the ball off of the ground and out of Maryland's hands.
Jake Rudock is coming along slowly and a second-straight week without a turnover would be a big boost to his confidence.
Don't Kick to Will Likely
This one is pretty simple. Michigan has to keep the ball out of the hands of Maryland's biggest playmaker on special teams. The Wolverines have been mindful of that in their approach to this game, so expect John Baxter's unit to be ready to go. The wind is a wild card here.
Stay Healthy and Take Care of Business
In a game like this with Northwestern and Michigan State looming in the next few weekends, the objective is to get out of the road environment in one piece against a team that you should be able to handle rather easily. Maryland is not a good football team, but whether it is by blowout or a last second field goal, just get the win and come back to Ann Arbor healthy and ready to two big games in the coming weeks.
What do you think the key to Saturday's game is? Sound off in the comments below!
October 2, 2015 by Shash
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Ever wonder how best to make that first move to talk to that special someone? Especially if their Tinder profile makes them look a little blurry, looks like the camera was wet, and could violently twist and turn at any minute? We've got you covered.
Online dating seems to be all the rage these days. Tinder, Huddr, Grindr, Smoochr, BUMBLR, Tumblr, 911, all apps where you can go flip through pictures and pick your perfect mate for three hours of boozin' and... things.
But we've all been there. You know, where you show up at your date and the 6'5 Adonis with a six-pack is actually a 4'11 man NAMED Adonis carring a 30-pack in his gut. Or that girl next door is actually the girl next door (with four beautiful baby girls she wants you to father). Point being, it's a jungle out there, and you can hardly be expected to take what people put out there at face value. Except here, because YFD won't letcha down.
Take this fine stallion, for instance. (thanks, FiveThirtyEight!)
First, we thought he'd be all up in there, but like every other man, he left us hanging.
Then, he got real clingy. Straight up dangled us around his big-ass finger like we were nothing more than fools on a string.
Then he just straight up told us to take him back, he's a changed man:
"There's no guarantee" is the only thing about this damn hurricane that makes any sense to me. He's up and he's down. He's wrong when it's rigiht. He's black when it's white. And so on, and so forth.
But we love him anyway, because he's truly a Renaissance Hurricane, which leaves us with the question - What do you say to the hurricane who has everything?
Well, listen up. You can call me Doppler, because I've been Joaquin you all week.
YOUR BEER OF THE WEEK:
It's rough out there. Apparently the game time got moved, but I don't know if that's true because I neither have Internet nor power from where I'm hunkered down (inside an exact replica of NORAD in my friend Jerry's basement in Omaha). (Thanks, MnB, for posting this via, uh, text message). So you need a beer you can drink in any situation. Well, if you're buried under a squall (hey, Geraldo!)
or just chillin', we gotcha. It's logical to assume that Joaquin will literally destroy the entire eastern half of the country, so all that's left are the stunning beaches of Nebraska and the salacious hellhole that is the West Coast. Keep your Cascade hops, kids, because this week's Beer of the Week is Nebraska Brewing's Brunette Nut Brown. It's the perfect antidote to a hurricane because it's sessionable at 4.7% (definition: you literally cannot get drunk from this beer unless you get drunk from it) and it isn't dark in the slightest. It's got a full-bodied toffee nut taste to it, kind of like a Newcastle, but without that tinny empty taste Noggie has - though it should be noted we love Newcastle at MnB. It finishes with almost a little fruity aftertaste, though it's a true Nut Brown and doesn't have a whiff of fructose anywhere near it, thank you very much.
YFD also heartily recommends a Dark and Stormy, because obviously.
Until next week, Cheers, Michigan Faithful!
October 2, 2015 by Nick Catoni
Filed under Uncategorized
This gameday in history covers some fun topics, like taking both games in a doubleheader, winning the turnover battle while still turning the ball over five times, and shutting out fellow Big Ten opponents. It definitely doesn't talk about losing - Goosfraba - in - Goosfraba - overtime - Goosfraba.
27-0 vs. Central State Teachers College in 1931
34-0 vs. Michigan Normal in 1931
In theory, a doubleheader to start a football season sounds daunting. Then you look at the schedule, see a couple of schools from Michigan that you've never heard of, realize it's probably not as impressive as you first thought and move on with the rest of your day. Still, failing to surrender a single point in back-to-back games is kind of impressive, regardless of the competition. Michigan fielded their bench in the first game, a 27-0 romp of Central State Teachers College, now known as Central Michigan University. Then the starters squashed Michigan Normal, now known as Eastern Michigan University, 34-0 with four rushing touchdowns and one passing score. The two victories marked the third straight season that Michigan swept a doubleheader to start the year. Instituted in '29, the doubleheaders were meant to draw more fans to the stadium as Michigan struggled with attendance. They did not help at all, and '31 marked the last season the Wolverines opened the year with two games in one day.
20-26 (OT) at Michigan State in 2009
The anger associated with this loss makes me question why I'm even bringing it up, but there's no argument against it being the worst on this gameday in history. For any readers who don't remember this game or weren't watching back in '09, don't bother looking it up. Hopefully a win against the Spartans this year rights our ship in the rivalry, and the last seven years dissolve into a bad dream. For the readers who still feel the pain of that overtime period, sorry for opening old wounds. Just close your eyes and go to a happy place. Goosfraba.
GAME MOST LIKELY TO REPEAT AGAINST THE TERPS
21-0 vs. Navy in 1964
After finishing second in the country a year prior, Navy traveled to Ann Arbor ranked fifth in the nation and 2-0 to start the '64 season. That didn't last for long as Michigan shut out the Midshipmen in a sloppy contest marked by 11 turnovers - five for Michigan, six for Navy. With Hurricane Joaquin bearing down on the east coast, there's a decent chance Saturday becomes a messy affair full of turnovers as well. If that's the case, hopefully the Wolverines take some notes on this game and just run the ball: against Navy, Michigan averaged an interception for roughly every five pass attempts (3 interceptions on 14 pass attempts). After no turnovers against BYU, Jake Rudock doesn't need to ruin his mojo with a similar performance.
GAMES WE WANT TO REPEAT AGAINST THE TERPS
39-0 vs. Michigan State in 1925
49-0 vs. Wisconsin in 1987
Running all over another Big Ten opponent* would be choice, Hurricane Joaquin be damned!
*It should be noted that Michigan State didn't enter the Big Ten until 1950
So that wraps it up for Michigan's history on Oct. 3. I'm hoping for a combination of previous games on Saturday. I'd like to see Michigan force (not commit) turnovers like Navy in '64 and score points like Wisconsin in '87. That'd make for a pretty nice start to the conference slate. Go Blue!
Overall Record on Oct. 2
15 - 3
1896 vs. Michigan Normal, 18-0
1903 vs. Case Scientific School, 31-0
1908 vs. Case Scientific School, 16-6
1914 vs. Case Scientific School, 69-0
1925 vs. Michigan State, 39-0
1931 vs. Central State Teachers College, 27-0
1931 vs. Michigan Normal, 34-0
1936 vs. Michigan State, 7-21
1942 vs. Michigan State, 20-0
1953 vs. Tulane, 26-7
1959 vs. Michigan State, 15-20
1964 vs. Navy, 21-0
1970 vs. Texas A&M, 14-10
1981 at Indiana, 38-17
1987 vs. Wisconsin, 49-0
1992 vs. Iowa, 52-28
1998 at Iowa, 12-9
2009 at Michigan State, 20-26 (OT)
The Wolverines have nearly everything going for them in this recruitment.
The recruitment of 2016 defensive tackle Rashan Gary (Paramus, New Jersey) has been one of the bigger storylines on the trail so far in this cycle. A commitment from him would give Jim Harbaugh and company their biggest fish to date and an elite defender that could play right away.
Gary is a consensus five-star prospect and the top-ranked overall player in the class of 2016.
The Wolverines have a lot going for them here. He is from an area of the country that has become a pipeline for the program in recent years. In 2013, Jabrill Peppers and Juwann Bushell-Beatty, both from Paramus Catholic, Gary's school, signed with Michigan.
In the 2016 class alone, Michigan has nabbed commitments from three players in the Garden State in wide receivers Brad Hawkins and Ahmir Mitchell, along with defensive end Ron Johnson.
Add in that Chris Partridge, his former high school coach, is now on Michigan's staff and that is a recipe to feel really good about here.
But that's not all.
Gary's visit over the weekend was a grand slam in his recruitment. He is looking to major in business and U-M has a great program for that career path. Michigan has a pretty large alumni base on the East coast, and as a source pointed out to Steve Lorenz ($), that was eye opening.
His mother is a pretty significant factor here, as well. According to a few that I have spoken to, she was incredibly impressed and took to Ann Arbor very nicely. It does not seem like there would be any issues with her son ending up at Michigan.
I have been contemplating pulling the trigger on this prediction for awhile, but once guys like Lorenz, Steve Wiltfong, Shannon Terry, and even Scout's Sam Webb saying a lot of the same things, it is becoming more and more apparent that this is a legitimate possibility.
It is going to be tough to hold off teams like LSU and Alabama, but Michigan has positioned themselves to do so and they should be able to get Gary on campus again prior to National Signing Day 2016.
October 2, 2015 by Kevin Bunkley
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Thursday morning we awoke to a change in kickoff time for Michigan's game against Maryland. Whether it's for the safety of everyone in College Park or avoiding having to send Jim Harbaugh out to battle a hurricane, we can't be sure. However, the Maize n Brew crew is sure about some other things regarding a stiff road test for the Wolverines.
Coach Harbaugh had a lot of positive impressions from the beatdown against BYU. Put on your coaching hat, though, and pick out one thing you think the Wolverines should work on at practice this week.
Kevin: Harbaugh is clearly a genius at drawing up a game plan week by week, but he would be the first to say his team can always get better. Jake Rudock squashed his turnover bug, but was a bit uneven with his throws. He missed some targets that everyone in the stadium could see, but still scraped up yards or a check-down throw. Fisch and Drevno need to continue to work with him on his timing and progressions, because some of the Big Ten defenses Michigan will face aren't going to be late on coverage or out of position on the check-down option.
Alex K.: The secondary is a channel that's risen to the occasion thus far behind the development of Channing Stribling and Jourdan Lewis. If I'm being nitpicky, a few DB's missed some interceptions against BYU, but ultimately ended up suppressing a respectable core at WR. Also, let's get some better celebrations; sick of seeing everyone just hug Rudock like he solved a Rubix Cube. Need more goal-post dunks.
Drew: Offensively, Jake Rudock needs to improve how he moves through his progressions after the first read. When he drops back to throw, he's still not seeing the entire field. Against BYU, there were at least three occasions when he failed to spot -- or opted not to throw to -- an open receiver for a completion that would have been no shorter than 20 yards. Having played only four games at Michigan, Rudock still is trying to become comfortable in Jim Harbaugh's offense. I think Rudock will progress with time, and, if Michigan wants to satisfy its higher expectations, U-M needs him to do so.
Peter: Jake Rudock should just continue working on his accuracy and his confidence. Last weekend was a huge confidence booster, I'm sure, but there was still obvious room for improvement. Like Drew said, he needs to get better at seeing the entire field, but it was nice seeing him play smart ball and throw out of bounds instead of an INT or taking the sack. Harbaugh needs to reinforce last week's positive play, but remind Rudock of the little things that can go wrong out there.
Fish: Rudock, Rudock and Rudock. While he's been decent so far, he can be so much better with some more reps, film study and confidence. Everyone and their mother saw what was available on the first play from scrimmage for Michigan as Rudock missed a WIDE open Jehu Chesson down the field. That wasn't the only thing he missed. There were several opportunities to cut it loose down the field and to target Jake Butt when wide open or with single man coverage. For Michigan to succeed moving forward, he needs to take some shots down the field.
Shash: I agree with Fish, but I think everyone’s missing a key point here. Michigan’s coaching staff needs to up its game on this one - they were caught stealing BYU’s playbook by alert commenter @freemale221g - and they need to do a better job stealing Maryland’s playbook and not getting caught by Freemale again.
The defense gave up 105 yards the whole game. Talk about what has been the difference that has made them click so quickly into the season.
Kevin: The players were already talented. Greg Mattison was an excellent coordinator. DJ Durkin is an even better coordinator, allowing Mattison to focus on one unit within the defense. Injecting NFL-caliber coaching into all the position units has created the terror seen on the field against BYU. Durkin is as good of a game planner as Harbaugh; he builds around the weakness of the opponent and exploits it until the opponent tries something else. It's working.
Alex K.: The defensive pressure early in downs is forcing opposition to have to convert 3rd and long, and that's when we're seeing the blanketing in the secondary mixed with some irregular blitzing. Think the Wolverines have that tenacity up front to complete own the line in early down situations that is making things so hard for opposing offenses to climb out of big holes.
Peter: Well, as Drew and I have already discussed in our own pieces, it isn't like Michigan had an awful defense coming into the season. After last season, they were ranked #7 overall, which I think is pretty good, right? If I'm going to point to anything that pushed this defense up a level so far in 2015, then it really does have to be the offense's ability to keep the chains moving. Even if they end a drive with a punt, it's better than many of the drives we saw last year. A defense that gets down because the offense can't keep them off the field is a killer for the entire team.
Drew: Peter makes a great point. Michigan's offense has been able to sustain drives, and, accordingly, U-M is eighth in the nation in time of possession. This stat can be meaningless if not used in the proper context, but it shows that the defense has had ample time to rest on the sidelines. Further, Michigan's special teams have been remarkably better whether it be Blake O'Neill's rugby-style punts or Jabrill Peppers' nifty returns. The result of all of this is that Michigan's defense has not had to come on the field with its back against the wall often. If you want proof, Michigan is 15th in defensive field position according to S&P+. It puts the defense in a position to succeed.
I also must add that, even without Bryan Mone, Michigan's defensive line is better than we imagined. Ryan Glasgow has continued his transformation from walk-on to All-Big Ten candidate, while Chris Wormley, Matt Godin, and Maurice Hurst, Jr. have had drastic upticks in their ability. Thus, Michigan has seven defensive linemen that are worthy of starting. That Michigan can rotate them all keeps them fresh and wears down offensive lines. And, because U-M is winning in the trenches, the defense is dominating.
Fish: While most fans may think this is all coaching, I believe there are two main factors to why the defense has taken the next step: Experience and the offensive efficiency. Like Kevin said, the talent has been there but several players, like Channing Stribling and Willie Henry, needed to grow, mature and get that experience to really become game changers. And while that is huge, the offenses ability to control the clock, get first downs and score points allows the defense to rest and play as aggressive as possible whenever they want. That is the biggest difference between 2014 and 2015.
Shash: I gotta believe continuity in Mattison is a big factor - but the line has really stepped their game up. Knew the back 7 would be good - but the line is making them great.
Last week I asked about how Michigan should sort out their running backs, but then De'veon Smith became the bulldozer we've all dreamed about. Does that change your position at all toward using him exclusively going forward?
Alex K: I wasn't a fan of so-called ‘platooning' and given Smith is making the most out of his carries, no sense in not leaning on his versatility and caliber as the season progresses.
Peter: I've loved Smith since the beginning, and I'm sticking by him at all costs. Until something happens in his game that shows he can't be the featured back, then he needs to be the featured back. Of course, he'll need a breather from time to time, and it's great knowing that Michigan has totally capable backs who can fill in for a down or two...especially if it's because Smith has already done all of the demoralizing.
Drew: I still have my issues with De'Veon Smith. I'll never question his heart, his toughness, or his desire to punish defenders, but he has weaknesses in his game that I just can't ignore. It's not even that he lacks top-end speed. It's that he doesn't have the vision or agility to create holes for himself. Yes, he did have one nice out-and-in cut the led three Cougars into the wrong gap, which in turn led to an 11-yard rush for Smith. But he also missed some wide cutback lanes. I still think Michigan needs a second back -- Ty Isaac or Drake Johnson -- to complement Smith's brash style. However, it seems Jim Harbaugh plans to ride Smith -- he has 69 (nice) carries while no other Wolverine has more than 23 -- this season. Though, we'll see if Smith (ankle) participates vs. Maryland.
Fish: I love me some De'Veon Smith but with the offense that Harbaugh likes to run, Michigan needs a stable of backs. He showed last week how easily it is to be injured during a simple play and I think the staff saw the same. They need the other running backs to not only be mentally ready but have the reps needed just incase Smith is rolled up on again. Luckily, there are four legit options out there.
Kevin: All of Michigan stadium squealed with glee as Smith teleported and twisted his way into the endzone for that touchdown. That run accounted for almost half of his yards, though. Smith isn't quite to the point of being the exclusive, punishing back the Harbaugh system needs, and the measuring stick should be Leonard Fournette. Until Smith is the thing keeping defensive coordinators awake at night, Michigan should continue to make use of all the talent on their roster.
Shash: I’ve never been on the Smith hype train and I’m not on it now. Dude clearly sucks. Fournette would have run for 100 yards on that TD Smith only managed 60 on. And you saw how he let a couple guys touch him. /sarcasm ALL HAIL SMITH
Michigan is a heavy favorite. Give your best advice for avoiding a spectacular upset, and a score prediction.
Kevin: Don't kick the ball to Will Likely. He is their dangerous return man and the Maryland crowd doesn't need any reason to get rowdy early.
Alex K.: Don't try and get cute. The Mountaineers hung 38 on Maryland in the first half alone, but this isn't a time to be trying to stretch the field and collect home run balls just because the defense is dismal. Stick to the offensive blueprint of running the ball when needed and keep building Rudock's confidence by dabbling in the short-passing game.
Peter: Alex is spot-on, here: no cutesy stuff. Take what the defense is giving you, make smart decisions with the ball, and don't think you will go out there and "make up" for not scoring 60 on BYU. Zero turnovers will be a key...and kick away from Likely.
Drew: Don't punt to Will Likely. Don't turn the ball over. Don't punt to Will Likely. Be content grinding out yards with De'Veon Smith or Ty Isaac or Drake Johnson because trying to air it out in what could be dire weather conditions does not seem like a recipe for success. Don't punt to Will Likely. Put Maryland in obvious passing situations, and force Caleb Rowe, who threw four interceptions against West Virginia last weekend, to beat Michigan with his arm. Oh, and did I mention U-M shouldn't punt to Will Likely?
Due to the inclement weather, it'll be a sluggish win for the Wolverines. Michigan 24, Maryland 6.
Fish: I'm with everyone else here. Don't punt to Will Likely, if and when they are stopped on offense, and do not get cute. Luckily, Harbaugh is not a cute coach. He may have the best jaw line in the business but he will stick to his game plan and play it conservative and safe each and every game (until Jabrill is unleashed against MSU, of course).
In the preseason, I thought it would be a close win, 28-24, but then I saw Maryland play. My new prediction is 28-0 thanks to the bad weather, bad Maryland quarterback play and lack of a kicking game.
Shash: Agree here. Don’t make dumb special teams plays and avoid getting into a quagmire game. Trust your running game to grind out some scores so that even if Likely runs one back, it won’t break the game. Look what happened to the Soviets in Afghanistan. They didn’t trust their running game, and they got their asses beat.
Week five already and
a whole lot of time to kill before Michigan takes the field on Saturday night lots of games on after the now-early kickoff in College Park. What're ya watching?
Kevin: I haven't watched Northwestern since they played Stanford, so if they can get past Minnesota...verrrry interesting game with Michigan next week. Other than that, Georgia-Alabama should be good because 'Bama may end up an underdog by Saturday.
Alex K: Houston-Tulsa. Every time one team punts, you have to drink a 40 oz. of King Cobra.
Peter: I'm probably taking it easy on football this weekend. I'll get up, watch the Michigan game, and maybe call it good. I've got some things I'd like to do with the family later in the day, so I'll probably just hang with my kids. There are some movies I want to watch later in the evening, so that's on my schedule, too.
Drew: Originally, I wasn't planning to watch any college football as I will be in a wedding (groomsman, not groom) tomorrow evening. However, Poseidon didn't want to wait until 8:00 p.m. to watch his Michigan football -- yeah, he's a Michigan football fan ... you didn't know? -- so he drummed up Hurricane Joaquin to move the kickoff to noon. Accordingly, I can watch Michigan-Maryland before I head off for the wedding.
Fish: Living down in Atlanta means I will be tuning in to the Georgia-Alabama game and will be backing the Bulldogs as they look to pick up their biggest win of the season. Besides that, I'll be passed out while trying to play Alex's Houston-Tulsa-King Cobra challenge.
Shash: I’m going to the game. So aside from early morning kegs-n-eggs - which I’m actually doing - I doubt much football will be happening after my postgame nap. I just had a birthday and am contemplating my mortality, so I thought the best way to stave off doom was a nap and bacon.
Key storylines, YOUR score predictions, how to watch and more in our comprehensive Wolverines/Terrapins preview.
Jim Harbaugh's 22nd-ranked Michigan Wolverines (3-1) travel to the Washington D.C. area to take on Randy Edsall's Maryland Terrapins (2-2) in a game that already has one big notable storyline developing before kickoff takes place.
The game was originally slated for a prime time kickoff, but due to the threat of inclement weather from Hurricane Joaquin, the decision was made to move the game to noon ET.
Rain and winds look like they will still factor in, which could cause a sloppy game without much explosion from either offense.
Offensively, Michigan will likely focus again on its ground attack, regardless of if De'Veon Smith plays or not (foot injury). They ran for 292 yards against Maryland last season and should be able to have similar success on Saturday afternoon. Jake Rudock will be looking to get through his second straight game without a turnover. It remains to be seen how much of the passing game we will see, but having a zero in the turnover column would be another boost to his confidence.
Michigan's defense has a chance to really shine in this game. The Terrapins are not great offensively and have had quarterback woes throughout this season. Caleb Rowe will get the start for them, who has nine interceptions in three games. Harbaugh has spoken about packing a defense when you hit the road. The bad weather seems to favor the Wolverines here.
On special teams, Maryland poses a great threat in the form of kick return whiz Will Likely, who is one of the best at his craft in all of college football. Harbaugh, John Baxter and company know what he is capable of and have placed an emphasis on special teams play going into this football game.
This is going to be a sloppy game that may be a tough watch at times, but Michigan should pull this one out easily and the score will not be indicative of how dominant they were. I have the Wolverines winning 17-3.
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- This is the fifth all-time meeting between the Wolverines and Terrapins with Maryland's lone win coming last season at Michigan Stadium.
- This is the first time that Michigan will travel to Maryland for a game. U-M has a large alumni base in the area, so the maize and blue should be well-represented at the game.
- Michigan is 82-25-2 all-time in Big Ten openers and have won 44 of its last 47 here with the only losses coming twice to Wisconsin on the road ('81, '05) and at home vs. Minnesota ('14).
- Maryland is the 11th different Big Ten school that Michigan has opened conference play with all-time.
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This could end up being a sloppy game, which should favor the Wolverines.
The Michigan Wolverines (3-1) travel to College Park on Saturday to take on the Maryland Terrapins (2-2) in agame that has a pretty large cloud hanging over it. (No pun intended)
Kickoff has been moved up eight hours to noon ET following the forecast of some inclement weather as a result of Hurricane Joaquin.
Here are some of the matchups that I will be keeping an eye on:
Michigan vs. The Hurricane
It sounds like the title of a bad disaster film, but hey, these are the cards that the Wolverines and Terrapins have been dealt.
Jim Harbaugh has spoken before about making sure first and foremost that you bring your defense with you when you play on the road. Michigan showed against Utah that being away from the Big House would not affect how the defense plays, but that was only one game and it was a month ago.
Maryland is not a very good offense team by any stretch of the imagination, but bad weather is the ultimate equalizer when it comes to the game of football. It will be interesting to see how that affects the Wolverines on defense. On paper, they should dominate this matchup on that side of the football.
On offense, a wet football can always cause problems with handoffs and ball security, so an extra emphasis will have to be placed on protecting the football.
Jake Rudock vs. The Turnovers
This seems like it has been in all of these articles this year, but I will be looking at this closely again Saturday with a damp field and "swirling winds" in College Park. Do not expect to see much of the passing game, but a second-consecutive clean outing from Rudock would be a huge positive going forward. We are starting to see the game slow down for him a bit, at least against BYU. Keep the ball off of the ground and the Wolverines will be fine offensively.
Will Likely vs. Michigan's Special Teams
Something that does not get talked about enough is how improved Michigan is in this aspect of the game. Special teams is the most underrated part of football and the Wolverines have one of the best coaches in the country in John Baxter to lead this unit.
Maryland's biggest threat comes in the return game, where dynamic runner Will Likely has the ability to take a kick to the house almost every time he touches the football. In a sloppy game where field position may play a large factor, Michigan has to be able to limit his damage and make the Terrapins drive the length of the field.
Harbaugh went out of his way during his Monday presser to discuss Likely and his return ability, so do not expect the Wolverines to be caught off guard. They know what they are dealing with. They just are tasked with stopping it.
That's it for this edition. What matchups will you be looking forward to on Saturday? Sound off in the comments below!