3 keys for a Michigan football win vs. Maryland

·5 min read

No. 6 Michigan has one last regular season away game on the schedule. This weekend it will travel to College Park face the Maryland Terrapins.

The Wolverines have had a ton of success against the Terps in the series — Michigan is 8-1 against Maryland and has won the last five games.

Maryland looks just like Jekyll and Hyde this year. The Terps started out the year going 4-0 and scoring a ton of points, they looked like a true contender. That only lasted until Big Ten play began, then it went downhill very quickly. The Terps are now 5-5 on the year, and they are currently on a two-game skid.

Maryland needs one more victory, in two weeks, in order to get bowl game eligible. On paper, it shouldn’t come this week, but with Ohio State looming next weekend, the Wolverines need to stay focused on the Terrapins.

Here are three keys to a Michigan football victory.

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Don't look ahead

Photo: Isaiah Hole

This game against Maryland is a true definition of a trap game.

The Terps aren’t a great team, while they aren’t terrible, Maryland has really struggled against any team that has a capable defense. That doesn’t mean the Terrapins couldn’t pull off an upset against a team that isn’t ready.

The Ohio State and Michigan State game will kick off before the Michigan and Maryland game begins, so there is a good chance that the Wolverines know the result of that game. If Ohio State defeats the Spartans, and the Wolverines defeat Maryland, then that game next weekend will decide the Big Ten East.

Michigan, as a team, can’t be thinking ahead to that game though, it needs to stay 100% focused on Maryland the entirety of Saturday.

The coaching staff knows what could happen if the team takes any focus off of a ball game, and I would imagine that they won’t allow that to happen.

Statistically, this game shouldn’t even be much of a ball game against Maryland, The Terps are a little banged up, especially at the receiver position, and the Wolverines dominate in just about every category.

Michigan is going to want to get out to a quick start against Maryland on Saturday, and not let this team hang around in the ball game. The Wolverines will want this to be a nice, easy win, and injury-free when it’s all said and done. Don’t let this great season end against a team that shouldn’t win due to a lack of focus.

Slow Tagovailoa down, shut the offense down

Oct 24, 2020; Evanston, Illinois, USA; Maryland Terrapins quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa (3) runs the ball against the Northwestern Wildcats during the first half at Ryan Field. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

While Maryland has the 13th-ranked passing offense, it also has the 112th-ranked rushing offense.

The Terps only average 112.4 yards-per-game on the ground, while Maryland is a pass-first team, the run game just isn’t very good.

That’s why Michigan needs to focus on slowing down Taulia Tagovailoa on Saturday — he is the Maryland offense. Tagovailoa is first in the Big Ten, and ninth in the entire country, with 3,105 passing yards. The Terps average 319.5 passing yards-per-game.

This is where the Michigan edge rushers come into play. The top two sack leaders in the Big Ten, David Ojabo and Aidan Hutchinson, will need to have yet another big game on Saturday. The Michigan secondary can only last so long against a high-powered gun-slinger, so the Wolverines can’t allow Tagovailoa to have a ton of time. It’s been a good sign for Michigan that DJ Turner has really come into his own the last few games, so that is going to be very beneficial for the Wolverines in the next two games.

The Maryland quarterback may throw for a ton of yards, but he also leads the Big Ten with 10 interceptions. If the Wolverines can get in his head and maintain pressure during the game, he is bound to throw a few costly passes going in Michigan’s favor. The Terps do allow 2.2 sacks-per-game on Tagovailoa, so this game could be very favorable for the Michigan defense in terms of getting pressure.

Fix the pass-blocking struggles

Photo: Isaiah Hole

Michigan went the first five games without allowing Cade McNamara to be sacked.

He has now been sacked five times since, and he has been faced with a good amount of pressure in each game since.

PFF ranks the Michigan pass-blocking as the 52nd team in the nation with a 65.5 grade.

The Wolverines’ offensive line could be in for another struggle on Saturday against the Terrapins. Maryland is 26th in team sacks, it gets 2.8 sacks per game on the opposing quarterback. PFF, however, is not high on the Maryland pass rush — they rank the Terps at 117th with a 65.1 grade.

Maryland’s top two guys, Sam Okuanyinonu and Greg Rose have six and five sacks, respectively.

This will be a good tune-up for the Michigan offensive line before the tough-nosed Buckeyes come to Ann Arbor, which has a very good defensive front. The Wolverines will want to keep McNamara healthy and confident during this game by giving him all the time he needs to make throws.

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