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Posts Tagged ‘Randy Edsall’

2015 Big Ten power rankings: Week 6

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015


Power Rankings_header

For the first time this season, all 14 Big Ten teams hit the field against conference opponents as the first half of the college football regular season came to an end. And though there were no surprises in the outcomes of these games, some of the winning margins definitely stood out.

In the only intra-division battle, the third-highest East Division team beat the highest-ranked West Division team into a pulp, branding the former as the more dominant half of the conference. Four East teams are 2-0 in conference while only Iowa is unbeaten in the West.

As a whole, the Big Ten has a legitimate chance to send 10 teams to bowl games at the end of the season. Three 6-0 squads are already bowl eligible and another three are just one win away. Assuming Minnesota and Wisconsin can win two more games each, it’s up to Indiana to find two more victories to give the conference 10 bowl-eligible teams.

Here’s how both division stack up after six weeks of football.

East Division
1. Ohio State (6-0, 2-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat Maryland 49-28 This Week: Sat vs Penn State (2-3, 0-1), 8pm, ABC

Ohio State holds onto the top spot this week because of the reemergence of the dangerous quarterback tandem that landed them the preseason No. 1 spot in the first place. No, being tied with Maryland in the 3rd quarter isn’t pretty, but the Buckeyes did pull away and win the game by 21 points. Cardale Jones completed 21 of 28 passes for 291 yards and two touchdowns while J.T. Barrett got a few red zone chances and scored three rushing touchdowns. Ezekiel Elliott rushed for a cool 106 yards and two touchdowns to cap off one heck of an afternoon for the trio. Ohio State did allow nearly 400 yards to a team that struggled to reach 100 against Michigan last week, but a 499-yard effort from a Buckeye offense that limped into the game eased any concerns. OSU didn’t turn the ball over, controlled the pace with 31 first downs and even got Braxton Miller going – finding the receiver five times for 79 yards and a touchdown.

2. Michigan (5-1, 2-0) – Up 1
Last Week: Beat #13 NW 38-0 This Week: Sat vs #7 Michigan St. (6-0, 2-0), 3:30pm, ESPN

That’s right, even though the Wolverines have a loss on their resume, they’ve finally jumped into the No. 2 spot in the rankings. Michigan put up one of the top performances of the year Saturday, dominating No. 13 Northwestern in all three phases for a 38-0 victory. Jehu Chesson drew first blood on the opening kickoff, returning it 96 yards for a quick touchdown. Michigan followed its first kick return touchdown since 2009 with drives of 59 yards and 75 yards against the No. 1 scoring defense in the country to stretch the lead to 21-0 in the 1st quarter. A Jourdan Lewis pick-six put the nail in the coffin before the Wildcats could even get to halftime. In addition to notching its third straight shutout, Michigan’s defense surrendered just 168 yards (after allowing 105 to both BYU and Maryland) and held Northwestern to 2-13 on 3rd downs. Jim Harbaugh has his team playing at a higher level than anybody could have expected this early in his regime. If the Wolverines can pull off an unthinkable sixth straight win on Saturday, it’ll enter into the Big Ten title discussion.

3. Michigan State (6-0, 2-0) – Down 1
Last Week: Beat Rutgers 31-24 This Week: Sat at #12 Michigan (5-1, 2-0), 3:30pm, ESPN

Mark Dantonio will probably use these power rankings as motivation for his team as it heads into Ann Arbor on Saturday. The Spartans drop out of the top two after needing a heroic Connor Cook-led drive in the final minute to beat a hapless Rutgers team. Cook made three legitimate NFL throws during the drive – highlighted by a 29-yard strike to R.J. Shelton on 3rd and 9 with MSU in danger of punting it back to the Scarlett Knights with three minutes remaining. Cook was great on the night, throwing for 357 yards and two touchdowns, but the Michigan State defense allowed recently-reinstated Leonte Carroo catch seven passes for 134 yards and three touchdowns to stay in the game. Carroo is an NFL talent, but the Spartan secondary is starting to look more and more porous as the season stretches on. Michigan doesn’t have the greatest passing attack, so if Jake Rudock can pick apart the Spartans on Saturday, it’ll be panic time for Dantonio.

4. Penn State (5-1, 2-0) – Even
Last Week: Beat Indiana 29-7 This Week: Sat at #1 Ohio State (6-0, 2-0), 8pm, ABC

Much like Utah’s resurgence has improved Michigan’s resume, Temple’s six-game winning streak to start the season is starting to make Penn State’s 5-1 start look much more respectable. The Nittany Lions smacked Indiana, 29-7, for their fifth straight win and have a chance to shake up the entire East Division in Columbus Saturday night. Christian Hackenberg was just average passing against a terrible Indiana defense – 21 of 39 for 262 yards and two scores – but rushed nine times for two more touchdowns. Indiana was without star running back Jordan Howard and quarterback Nate Sudfeld, so the PSU defense cruised in the victory.

5. Rutgers (3-2, 0-2) – Up 1
Last Week: Lost to #4 MSU 24-31 This Week: Sat at Indiana (4-2, 0-2), 3:30pm, BTN

Maybe Rutgers has a little fight left after the return of Carroo to the offense. The senior wideout has caught six touchdown passes in just three games and gives the Scarlett Knights their only dangerous weapon on offense. Defensively, Rutgers can’t stop a nosebleed. Michigan State converted 11 of 17 chances on 3rd down en route to 489 total yards and 31 points. Only Norfolk State, an FCS team, and Kansas, the worst power five team in the country, couldn’t score at least 28 points against Rutgers this season. It’ll be up to the offense if Kyle Flood’s team wants to play in a bowl game.

6. Indiana (4-2, 0-2) – Down 1
Last Week: Lost to Penn St. 7-29 This Week: Sat vs Rutgers (3-2, 0-2), 3:30pm, BTN

Poor Indiana. Just when it looked like the Hoosiers could make some noise in the Big Ten – 4-0 and beating top-ranked Ohio State in the 3rd quarter – they lost their two best offensive players and spiraled into a familiar abyss of irrelevance. A huge home game against Rutgers could get Indiana a step closer to bowl eligibility. If the Hoosiers drop that contest, they’ll need two road wins over Maryland and Purdue at the end of the season.

7. Maryland (2-4, 0-2) – Even
Last Week: Lost to #1 OSU 28-49 This Week: Bye (10/24 vs Penn State)

Despite hanging with Ohio State for the better part of three quarters, Maryland is the lucky recipient of this week’s Dumpster Fire Award. Firing head coach Randy Edsall won’t teach Perry Hills, or Caleb Rowe, or Daxx Garman how to throw the football. The three quarterbacks own a combined completion percentage of just 44.1 percent and have thrown 17 picks to just 10 touchdowns. Hills – 47.4 percent, five touchdowns and four interceptions – might be the best option, but he still won’t get the Terrapins anywhere near bowl eligibility. On defense, look no further than the three teams (Bowling Green, West Virginia and Ohio State) who put up well over 40 points apiece against Maryland. The next four weeks will be a train wreck for the Terrapins. Athletic Director Kevin Anderson might have actually done Edsall a huge favor.

B1G East Week 6

 

West Division
1. Iowa (6-0, 2-0) – Up 1
Last Week: Beat Illinois 29-20 This Week: Sat at #20 NW (5-1, 1-1), 12pm, ABC

For the first time this season, a new team sits upon the West Division throne. Iowa wasn’t overly dominant in a 29-20 win over Illinois, but Jordan Canzeri proved he’s the real deal, carrying the ball 43 times for 256 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback C.J. Beathard did just enough in the passing game to open the field for Canzeri, completing 15 of 31 passes for 200 yards and two touchdowns. His favorite target on Saturday was freshman Jerminic Smith, who made his first career catches (4) for 118 yards. As the only remaining undefeated team in the Big Ten West, Iowa sits in the driver’s seat heading into a crucial top-20 matchup in Evanston. If the Hawkeyes can escape with a win over Northwestern, the final five weeks will be a cakewalk to Indianapolis.

2. Northwestern (5-1, 1-1) – Down 1
Last Week: Lost to #18 Mich. 0-38 This Week: Sat vs #17 Iowa (6-0, 2-0), 12pm, ABC

After winning five games to open the season and knocking off Stanford and Duke – neither of which has lost since falling to the Wildcats – Northwestern finally put itself on a national stage with the chance to make a statement. Simply put, it didn’t go well. The Wildcats fell behind by three touchdowns in the 1st quarter and never even made a peep as the Wolverines shattered their perfect record. Clayton Thorson’s best drive ended in a missed field goal and Justin Jackson rushed 12 times for only 25 yards. Luckily, Pat Fitzgerald only has to wait a week for a chance at redemption. A home win against Iowa Saturday would put Northwestern back on top of the West.

3. Minnesota (4-2, 1-1) – Up 2
Last Week: Beat Purdue 41-13 This Week: Sat vs Nebraska (4-2, 1-1), 3:30pm, ESPN2

Minnesota finally broke out of its offensive slump in Week 6, rushing for 326 yards and dropping 41 points on Purdue. Mitch Leidner only threw for 59 yards, but there was little reason to pass as the Gophers had seven different ball carriers combine to average 6.8 yards per carry. The defense bounced back from the 27-0 drubbing it suffered against Northwestern, allowing just 275 yards and forcing four turnovers. Minnesota needs a win over Nebraska this weekend before dates against Michigan and Ohio State after the bye.

4. Wisconsin (4-2, 1-1) – Even
Last Week: Beat Nebraska 23-21 This Week: Sat at Minnesota (4-2, 1-1), 3:30pm, ESPN2

Wisconsin nearly dropped to 0-2 in the Big Ten Saturday, but a 46-yard field goal from Rafael Gaglianone with four seconds left in the game lifted the Badgers over the Cornhuskers, 23-21. Joel Stave threw the ball an uncharacteristic 50 times, completing 24 passes for 322 yards and one touchdown. Dare Ogunbowale added 117 yards rushing to give Wisconsin just enough for its first conference win. Nebraska gained just 13 first downs against the Badger defense and scored only one in the second half. Wisconsin faces an easy four-game stretch – Purdue, Illinois, Rutgers and Maryland – while it waits for Iowa to let it back into the race.

5. Illinois (4-2, 1-1) – Down 2
Last Week: Lost to #22 Iowa 20-29 This Week: Bye (10/24 vs Wisconsin)

For a few glorious moments in the 4th quarter, it looked like Illinois might actually pull a road upset at Kinnick. But the offense managed just two touchdowns as the Fighting Illini fell back to even in conference play. The Illini defense embraced the ‘bend but don’t break’ mentality Saturday, allowing 478 total yards but surrendering just three touchdowns. Marshall Koehn made three field goals after stalled Hawkeye drives to eventually outlast Illinois.

6. Nebraska (2-4, 0-2) – Up 1
Last Week: Lost to Wisconsin 21-23 This Week: Sat at Minn. (4-2, 1-1), 3:30pm, ESPN2

Nebraska has really got this heartbreak thing down to a science. After losing on a last-second field goal on Saturday, the Cornhuskers have lost four games by a combined 11 points. Two of those losses came on Hail Mary passes and a third came in overtime. If Mike Riley can’t teach his team to finish, they’ll watch the rest of the conference from home during the bowl season.

7. Purdue (1-5, 0-2) – Down 1
Last Week: Lost to Minnesota 13-41 This Week: Sat at Wisconsin (4-2, 1-1), 12pm, BTN

To nobody’s surprise, Purdue’s near upset of Michigan State turned out to be a one-week wonder. The Boilermakers turned the ball over four times – including three picks by David Blough – in a 41-13 home loss against Minnesota. Purdue held the ball for under 24 minutes and converted just three of 17 attempts on 3rd down. Rutgers and Maryland have a better chance to play each other in a bowl game than Purdue has to qualify.

B1G West Week 6

Michigan 28 – Maryland 0: Defense dominates Terrapins

Saturday, October 3rd, 2015


Michigan D vs Maryland(MGoBlue.com)

The threat of Hurricane Joaquin moving up the Atlantic coast moved kickoff up eight hours, and perhaps Michigan’s offense didn’t get the memo for the first 30 minutes. But the defense did its part and when the offense woke up Michigan polished off its second straight shut out with a 28-0 win over Maryland on Saturday afternoon.

Maryland looked like it was going to be able to move the ball to start the game, picking up first downs on an 11-yard pass, a 10-yard pass, and an 18-yard run into Michigan territory. The drive stalled at the 47, but Michigan’s offense was unable to get anything going on its first possession.

The teams traded turnovers four of the next five possessions as Jeremy Clark and Desmond Morgan both intercepted Maryland quarterback Caleb Rowe and Jake Rudock and Ty Isaac each coughed up fumbles. On Michigan’s first possession of the second quarter, which started with the Morgan interception, the Wolverines advanced to the Maryland 24, but an intentional grounding penalty killed the drive and Kenny Allen missed a 47-yard field goal attempt.

UM-Maryland-small-FINAL
Final Stats
Michigan Maryland
Score 28 0
Record 4-1 (1-0) 2-3 (0-1)
Total Yards 378 105
Net Rushing Yards 198 29
Net Passing Yards 180 76
First Downs 14 7
Turnovers 3 3
Penalties-Yards 7-65 5-66
Punts-Yards 6-242 13-473
Time of Possession 34:19 25:41
Third Down Conversions 5-of-17 1-of-18
Fourth Down Conversions 1-of-2 0-of-0
Sacks By-Yards 3-20 2-11
Field Goals 2-for-3 0-for-0
PATs 2-for-2 0-for-0
Red Zone Scores-Chances 3-of-3 0-of-0
Full Box Score

After a Maryland three-and-out, Michigan finally got on the scoreboard thanks to a Jabrill Peppers 29-yard punt return that set the Wolverines up at the Maryland 39. Michigan got as far as the 10 but had to settle for a 30-yard Allen field goal. Allen tacked on another, from 32 yards out, at the end of the quarter to put Michigan ahead 6-0 at the half.

The second half started similar to the first with neither team able to move the ball. Rudock was intercepted by defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson at the Michigan 44 on Michigan’s first possession. But the Wolverine defense forced a three and out. Two possessions later, Michigan finally got its first touchdown of the game when Drake Johnson took a screen pass 31 yards and dove for the pylon. Rudock connected with Khalid Hill for a two-point conversion to put Michigan ahead 14-0.

After forcing another Maryland punt, Michigan wasted no time finding the end zone again. Jehu Chesson took an end-around and raced 66 yards down the left sideline for another touchdown.

Michigan added a final score midway through the fourth. Maryland punted from its own five, but was called for kick catch interference as Peppers caught the punt, which gave Michigan the ball at the Maryland 24. Johnson carried the ball for runs of two and 20 yards, and after a Sione Houma one-yard run, Johnson polished it off with his second touchdown of the game to reach the final score of 28-0.

Despite three turnovers, Michigan’s offense racked up 378 total yards of offense, 198 on the ground. Rudock completed 16 of 32 passes for 180 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. Johnson led all rushers with 68 yards on 13 carries (5.2 yards per carry), while Jake Butt led all receivers with 61 yards on 4 receptions.

Michigan’s defense held Maryland to just 105 total yards — the same total BYU reached a week ago. Maryland gained just 35 yards on 46 plays (0.76 yards per play) after its first two possessions of the game. Rowe completed just 8 of 27 passes for 47 yards and three interceptions. Brandon Ross rushed 14 times for 44 yards as Maryland was held to just 1.1 yards per carry.

Morgan led the Michigan defense with nine tackles in addition to his interception. Matt Godin recorded 1.5 sacks, while Maurice Hurst and Willie Henry added one apiece and Mario Ojemudia notched a half a sack. Unfortunately, Ojemudia left the game in the second half with an Achilles injury that may end his season.

The shutout marked the first time Michigan has recorded back-to-back shutouts since the 2000 season.

Michigan improved to 4-1 on the season and 1-0 in Big Ten play and will host Northwestern (5-0, 1-0) for Homecoming next Saturday. The Wildcats are currently ranked 16th, but may move up in the rankings after topping Minnesota 27-0.

Game Ball – Offense 

Drake Johnson (13 carries for 68 yards, 1 TD, 1 rec for 31 yards, 1 TD)
Johnson emerged in the second half of last season as Michigan’s top running back and had a spectacular game against Ohio State before tearing his ACL for the second time. As this season began, he was buried on the depth chart and didn’t play in the opener at Utah while still recovering from the injury. But he has slowly been working back over the last four weeks, and when De’Veon Smith was ruled out of this one with an ankle injury and Ty Isaac struggled to hold onto the ball in the first half, Johnson was called upon to carry the load. He showed the talent and vision of last season, taking a screen 31 yards for a score, reeling off a 20-yard run, and scoring a rushing touchdown.

Previous:
Week 1 – Jake Butt (8 rec for 93 yards and 1 TD)
Week 2 – De’Veon Smith (23 carries for 126 yards, 3 TDs)
Week 3 – Ty Isaac (8 carries for 114 yards, 1 TD)
Week 4 — De’Veon Smith (16 carries for 125 yards and 1 TD)

Game Ball – Defense

Desmond Morgan (9 tackles, 1 INT, 2 PBU)
Like Johnson, Morgan suffered a major injury last season, but it caused him to miss the entire year. The good news is that it gave him a fifth season to be a part of this team and he hasn’t disappointed. Today, he had his best game of the young season, leading all defenders with nine tackles, picking off a pass, and breaking up two passes. He was all over the field and played a major part in holding a second straight opponent to just 105 total yards.

Previous:
Week 1 – Chris Wormley (5 tackles, 3 TFL)
Week 2 – Chris Wormley (6 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 sack)
Week 3 – Jourdan Lewis (3 tackles, 4 PBU)
Week 4 — Ryan Glasgow (3 tackles, 2 TFL)

Final Individual Stats
Passing Comp-Att Yds Avg. TD INT Long Sack
Jake Rudock 16-32 180 5.6 1 1 44 2
Caleb Rowe 8-27 47 1.7 0 3 13 3
Rushing Car. Yards Avg. TD Long
Drake Johnson 13 68 5.2 1 20
Jehu Chesson 1 66 66.0 1 66
Brandon Ross 14 44 3.1 0 18
Derrick Green 7 26 3.7 0 9
Jake Rudock 4 19 4.8 0 20
Ty Isaac 6 17 2.8 0 7
Sione Houma 2 12 6.0 0 11
Wes Brown 5 8 1.6 0 4
Amara Darboh 1 -2 -2.0 0 -2
Ross Taylor-Douglass 3 -3 -1.0 0 1
Caleb Rowe 1 -8 -8.0 0 -8
Daxx Garman 6 -15 -2.5 0 3
Receiving Rec Yds Avg. TD Long
Jake Butt 4 61 15.2 0 44
Jehu Chesson 4 41
10.2 0 16
Drake Johnson 1 31 31.0 1 31
Amara Darboh 3 27 9.0 0 15
Wes Brown 2 26 13.0 0 22
Levern Jacobs 3 20 6.7 0 11
D.J. Moore 2 17 8.5 0 10
Sione Houma 2 14 7.0 0 9
Kenneth Goins Jr. 1 13 13.0 0 13
Drake Harris 1 6 6.0 0 6
Taivon Jacobs 1 1 1.0 0 1
Freddy Canteen 1 0 0.0 0 0
Brandon Ross 1 -1 -1.0 0 -1
Kicking FG Pct Long XP Pts
Kenny Allen 2/3 66.7 32 2/2 8
Punting No Yds Avg TB In 20 Long
Blake O’Neill 6 242 40.3 0 2 59
Nate Pritchard 10 360 36.0 0 1 46
Brad Craddock 3 113 37.7 0 1 52
Kick Returns No Yds Avg Long TD
Jabrill Peppers 1 21 21.0 21 0
William Likely 4 91 22.8 31 0
Punt Returns No Yds Avg Long TD
Jabrill Peppers 3 38 12.7 29 0
William Likely 3 23 7.7 12 0

Michigan vs Maryland game preview

Friday, October 2nd, 2015


Game Preview_Maryland_banner

With Hurricane Joaquin bearing down on the Washington, D.C. metro area, Saturday night’s game at Maryland has been moved up to noon. But with a Michigan squad that tore through BYU like a hurricane a week ago, will it matter what time it starts?

Last week, Michigan evened the all-time record with BYU, and while the Wolverines boast a 3-1 all-time win margin over Maryland, the Terrapins now stand as one of only two Big Ten foes to have a winning conference record against mighty Michigan. The other, Rutgers, is the other conference newcomer, and both beat the Wolverines last season. Jim Harbaugh will get a chance to right the record on both of those this season, and that begins with Maryland tomorrow.

UM-Maryland-small
Quick Facts
Byrd Stadium – 12 p.m. EST – BTN
Maryland Head Coach: Randy Edsall (5th season)
Coaching Record: 96-102 (22-32 at MD)
Offensive Coordinator: Mike Locksley (4th season)
Defensive Coordinator: Keith Dudzinski (1st season)
Returning 2014 Starters: 10 (6 offense, 4 defense)
Last Season: 7-6
Last Meeting: MD 23 – UM 16 (2014)
All-Time Series: UM leads 3-1
Record at Maryland: 1st meeting
Record in Byrd Stadium: 1st meeting
Jim Harbaugh vs Maryland: 1st meeting
Last Michigan win: 1990 (45-17)
Last Maryland win: 2014 (23-16)
Current Streak: Maryland 1

Maryland comes in just 2-2 with wins over Richmond (50-21) and South Florida (35-17) alternating with losses to Bowling Green (48-27) and West Virginia (45-6). For their part, Maryland was tied at 27 with Bowling Green in the fourth quarter in Week 2, but the Falcons scored 21 unanswered points in the final 12 minutes of the game to make a close game look like a blowout. Bowling Green racked up a season high 692 total yards of offense and 35 first downs. Last week, West Virginia also topped 600 total yards against the Terps with 601 and wasted no time keeping Maryland in the game. The Mountaineers scored three first quarter touchdowns and led 38-0 at the half. They took the foot off the petal in the second half and allowed a Maryland touchdown with 11:45 remaining, but that was the only positive of the game for Randy Edsall’s squad.

Early this week, the Maryland players reportedly held a players-only meeting which Edsall claimed to know nothing about on Tuesday’s Big Ten conference call.

“That’s news to me; I don’t think we had a players-only meeting at all,” he said. “We’ve had our normal meetings all week long.”

He then continued with a positive spin.

“If the players had the meeting and something productive came out of it, I think that’s great,” he said. “I’ve been happy with our leadership and I’m glad they did that. I had my normal 7 o’clock meeting and I had no idea that there was a players-only meeting.”

Players-only meetings typically aren’t a good thing. They’re normally a sign of trouble, either amongst the players themselves or more likely between them and their coach. Either way, it’s probably a good thing for Michigan.

Let’s take a look at the matchup.

When Maryland has the ball

Through the first four games of the season, Maryland’s offense ranks 84th nationally in total offense (389.3 yards per game), 50th in rush offense (196 yards per game), 98th in passing offense (193.3 yards per game), 118th in passing efficiency (106.91), and 73rd in scoring (29.5 points per game). By comparison, BYU came into last week’s matchup averaging 30.3 points per game — against better competition — and Michigan shut the Cougars out.

The quarterback position has been a revolving door in the early season with junior Perry Hill starting the first two games but completing just 52.9 percent of his passes. Last year’s backup, Caleb Rowe, took over and led the Terps to a win over South Florida, going 21 of 33 for 297 yards, four touchdowns, and three interceptions. But he struggled against West Virginia last Saturday, completing just 10 of 27 passes for 67 yards, no touchdowns, and four interceptions. That put him on the bench in favor of Oklahoma State transfer Daxx Garman, who went 4 of 9 for 86 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Rowe will likely start tomorrow, but if Michigan’s defense treats him like it did Tanner Mangum last week, offensive coordinator Mike Locksley may give him a short leash.

The backfield is one of the bright spots thus far with four players over 100 yards rushing. Senior Brandon Ross is the leading back with 358 yards and two touchdowns on 59 carries (6.1 yards per carry). He carried the ball 18 times for 150 yards and a score in the season opener against Richmond and then 15 times for 130 yards last week, but combined for just 78 yards on 26 carries (3 ypc) in the middle two. Junior Wes Brown rushed for 74 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries in the opener, but hasn’t done much since, while freshman Ty Johnson is averaging 5.5 yards per carry.

The receiving corps lacks a true playmaker after losing Stefon Diggs and Deon Long to graduation. Redshirt junior Levern Jacobs leads the team with 15 receptions for 176 yards and two touchdowns, while his younger brother Taivon Jacobs leads the team with 22.6 yards per catch thanks to a 70-yard touchdown against South Florida. He has five catches for 113 yards and the one score. The third member of the receiving corps with more than 100 receiving yards is freshman D.J. Moore, who has six catches for 112 yards and one touchdown. Junior Amba Etta-Tawo ranks second on the team in catches (10), but has just 97 yards and has yet to find the end zone. Freshman tight end Avery Edwards matches the elder Jacobs with two touchdowns — both against South Florida — along with his 89 receiving yards.

The offensive line has some solid experience with three of last year’s staters back this season, most notably at the tackle positions. Junior left tackle Michael Dunn and senior right tackle Ryan Doyle bring a combined 57 career starts to the table, senior right guard Andrew Zeller adds 33. However, against West Virginia last week, Doyle was moved to left guard and redshirt freshman, former five-star recruit, Damian Prince, manned the right tackle spot. Sophomore Mike Minter started the first three games of the season at left guard, while senior center Evan Mulrooney has nine career starts under his belt.

When Michigan has the ball

Edsall promoted linebackers coach Keith Dudzinksi to defensive coordinator this offseason and the defense changed from a 3-4 to a 4-3. Dudzinski is trying to turn around a defense that ranked 10th in the Big Ten in scoring defense, 12th in total defense, 12th in rush defense, and 13th in pass defense last season. So far, however, the Terps’ defense has been one of the worst in the nation. It currently ranks 13th in the Big Ten and 107th nationally in total defense (467.3 yards allowed per game), 13th and 99th in scoring defense (32.8 points allowed per game), last and 100th in rush defense (200.3 yards allowed per game), and 10th and 101st in pass defense (267 yards allowed per game).

Four of last year’s top six defensive linemen are gone, leaving junior defensive end Yannick Ngakoue — an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection last season — to carry the load. So far, he has done well, leading Maryland with 5.5 sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss. On the other side is junior Roman Braglio, whose only start of 2014 came against Michigan. He has started three of four so far this year and has 4.5 tackles for loss and a pair of sacks. Redshirt junior Quinton Jefferson and sophomore David Shaw man the middle. Jefferson has made much more of a splash on the stat sheet with 4.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. Shaw, a first year starter, has six tackles and a half of a tackle for loss. Sophomore end Jesse Aniebonam — a four-star recruit in last year’s class — is the only change to the starting lineup so far this season, having started in place of Braglio against Bowling Green. He has 11 tackles, two for loss, and two sacks.

The linebacking corps is young, starting two sophomores — Jalen Brooks and Jermaine Carter — and a senior — Jefferson Ashiru. Carter leads the team with 46 tackles so far this season and is second behind Ngakoue with five tackles for loss. Brooks has 24 tackles, one for loss, and an interception, while Ashiru, who has 23 career starts, has 20 tackles, one for loss, and one sack.

The best athlete on the team resides in the secondary in the form of junior cornerback William Likely, a first-team All-Big Ten selection by both the coaches and media last season. Likely has yet to record an interception so far this season after leading the conference with six a year ago, but he does lead the team with five pass breakups. The other corner is senior Sean Davis, who leads the team with two interceptions and ranks second with 35 tackles. He led all Big Ten defensive backs with 115 tackles last season. The safeties are senior Anthony Nixon and fifth-year senior A.J. Hendy, who have combined for 55 tackles, one for loss, one interception, and two passes defended.

The other third

Senior kicker Brad Craddock is the reigning Lou Groza award winner as the nation’s best kicker. He also won the Big Ten’s Bakken-Andersen Kicker of the Year award. Over the course of his career, he has made 81.7 percent of his field goal attempts, and this season has connected on five of six with a long of 41. He does have plenty of range, having made a 57-yarder against Ohio State in 2014. He also shares punting duties with freshman Nicolas Pritchard, who has booted 12 punts for an average of 40.8 yards.

The most dangerous player on the field is Likely, who has already returned two punts for touchdowns this season and averages 28.1 yards per punt return. He’s also the main kick returner, but hasn’t broken through that way, averaging 21.7 yards per return. He ranked fourth nationally with a 31-yard average on kick returns last season, including a 100-yard return for touchdown against Stanford.

Prediction

The noon kickoff will allow Michigan and Maryland to avoid the bad weather that Hurricane Joaquin will bring, but the forecast still calls for rain and around 20 mile per hour wind. One conventional mode of thinking would say that should even up the matchup, making up for Michigan’s superiority. However, Michigan’s offense is predicated on the run game and Maryland’s defense has allowed all three FBS teams it has played to top 200 yards rushing. Bowling Green rushed for 201, USF for 240, and West Virginia 304.

Even if De’Veon Smith isn’t fully recovered from the ankle injury he suffered in the second half of last week’s game, expect Ty Isaac and Drake Johnson to carry the load and Michigan to still have success against an overmatched front seven. Maryland will, of course, stack the box and try to force Jake Rudock to make plays with his arm, but he has been slowly improving and as long as he avoids turnovers, will be able to do just enough to manage the game and let the running game do the work.

Maryland’s offense hasn’t seen anything close to Michigan’s yet. West Virginia ranks 26th in total defense, South Florida 45th, and Bowling Green 111th. Michigan’s defense is allowing just two-thirds of the total yards West Virginia has allowed per game and the Mountaineers have played just Georgia Southern, Liberty, and Maryland. In addition, Maryland currently leads the nation with 14 turnovers and the wet and windy conditions won’t help in that regard.

Michigan wins a soggy, boring game and racks up 250 rushing yards in the process. The offensive line will wear down Maryland’s defensive front, allowing for one back — Smith or Isaac depending on the former’s health — to top 100 yards. Michigan’s defense shuts down Maryland’s offense, takes advantage of some turnovers, and Jabrill Peppers gets his first career interception as Jim Harbaugh picks up his first road win.

Michigan 30 – Maryland 10

M&GB staff predictions: Maryland

Friday, November 21st, 2014


StaffPicks_banner

Michigan hosts Maryland tomorrow for the first time since 1990 and for the first time as Big Ten conference foes. Both teams have much to play for — Michigan to become bowl eligible and Maryland to assure a winning season. Twelve seniors will play their final game in Michigan Stadium. Can Michigan pick up its sixth win? Or will Maryland complete the Big Ten newbie sweep of the Wolverines? Here are our picks.

Staff Predictions
Michigan Maryland
Justin 17 16
Sam 19 23
Derick 20 17
Josh 13 27
Joe 17 24
M&GB Average 17 21

Justin: Michigan’s defense suffered a huge blow last weekend when Frank Clark was dismissed from the team for a domestic violence incident in an Ohio hotel. Clark was having the best season of his career and recorded the game-saving stop to beat Northwestern (he didn’t actually sack Trevor Siemian, but made the play that caused Siemian to slip). Without the leader of the defensive line, Michigan will have to rely on Taco Charlton and Mario Ojemudia to step up.

Maryland, however, lost its top player to injury when receiver Stefon Diggs suffered a lacerated kidney a couple weeks ago. He leads the team in receptions, yards, and touchdowns, so his loss evens out Clark’s.

In normal weather conditions, the offense should be able to have more success against Maryland’s defense than it did against Northwestern’s. The Terps have given up big passing games (511 passing yards by West Virginia) and rushing games (370 yards by Syracuse) this season and rank in the bottom third nationally in both categories.

I expect an evenly matched game, but with cold and rainy conditions — perhaps even freezing rain — expected, it won’t be as high scoring as it normally would be. It’s basically a coin flip, but I’ll give the edge to Michigan at home on senior day.

Michigan 17 – Maryland 16

Sam:  Didn’t have a chance to write up a full prediction, but his score prediction is below.

Maryland 23 – Michigan 19

Derick:  This season has been nothing short of a disaster for Michigan, as its 5-5 record has unthinkably become a secondary story to off-field issues like playing Shane Morris with a concussion, running Dave Brandon out of town and dismissing Frank Clark for hitting his girlfriend.

Losing Clark will certainly hurt the Wolverines’ pass rush, but this defense has been among the best in the country all season, never allowing an opponent to score more than their season average despite spending most of the game on the field thanks to an anemic offense.

Luckily, one of the greatest pretenders in all of college football is coming to town in the form of the Terrapins. Maryland is 6-4 on paper, but their best wins are against bad Iowa and Penn State teams by seven points and one point, respectively. In fact, when Michigan State walked into Maryland’s night game atmosphere and pounded the Terps 37-15, it was the closest contest the new Big Ten team has had against a ranked opponent.

Ohio State and Wisconsin both dropped 52 points on this Maryland team, so when Michigan is on offense it will be a battle of which unit can be less inept. Michigan has yet to score 20 points on a defense with a pulse this season, but matches up with a Terps team allowing 29 points per game.

Michigan needs this win to become bowl eligible, because an upset in Columbus isn’t on the menu. I think Brady Hoke’s squad will pull out one more for their embattled leader and top Maryland.

Michigan 20 – Maryland 17

Josh: I said Northwestern would be Michigan’s last win and I’m sticking to it. Even without Stefon Diggs I expect Maryland to air it out and connect on a few deep bombs. I wasn’t very high on Frank Clark (as a player) to begin with so I don’t think they will miss him much. He was inconsistent at best and rarely made any noise against decent opponents. The pass rush still leaves much to be desired (by which I mean it leaves a lot to be desired) and I think CJ Brown will have plenty of time to toss it to whoever Blake Countess is covering, how did he go from all-conference player to this?

Michigan doesn’t have an offense to speak of and while I’m sure guys like Devin Gardner will play their hearts out they’re just not very good at what they do. Gardner can’t read defenses and/or find the open guy, etc. etc. We all know the story by now. What started as the place Hoke seemingly couldn’t lose (won his first 19 home games) the Big House has become as unfriendly to the Wolverines as the road has been during Hoke’s tenure. I feel bad for the seniors, and even for Hoke, but as Brady once said, “This is Michigan fergodsakes” and at Michigan what has transpired under Hoke’s watch is not acceptable.

Maryland 27 – Michigan 13

Joe: I want to believe that this team will come out fighting for their coach, fighting for a bowl berth and wanting to go out with a win for the home crowd. I want to believe these things but I just have not seen enough of this over the last month. The offense has been dreadful and the defense has been just good enough to keep things interesting. If Michigan is able to establish the run and control the clock, the defense will take care of the roller coaster ride that is Maryland. You never know what they are going to do from one week to the next. I have serious doubts that Michigan will be able to make this happen and have even less confidence in the passing game. I’d love to see a third straight victory and secure a bowl bid but can’t see it happening. Maryland scores late to win at the Big House.

Maryland 24 – Michigan 17

Michigan-Maryland game preview

Friday, November 21st, 2014


Game Preview_Maryland_banner

Two games remain in Michigan’s forgettable 2014 season, but if the Wolverines win one of them they can earn a few extra weeks of practice and one final inglorious bowl game. Whether that happens or not, 12 seniors will play their final games in the Big House tomorrow against the Maryland Terrapins. Jake Ryan, Devin Gardner, Brennen Beyer, Raymon Taylor, Delonte Hollowell, Matt Wile, Will Hagerup, Joey Burzynski, Jonathan Keizer, Alex Mitropolous-Rundus, and Alex Swieca will lay their all on the field, fighting for one final game.

UM-Maryland-small-final
Quick Facts
Michigan Stadium – 3:30 p.m. EST – Big Ten Network
Maryland Head Coach: Randy Edsall (4th season)
Coaching Record: 93-98 (19-28 at Maryland)
Offensive Coordinator: Mike Locksley (3rd season)
Defensive Coordinator: Brian Stewart (3rd season)
Returning 2013 Starters: 17 (8 offense, 9 defense)
Last Season: 7-6 (3-5 ACC)
Last Meeting: UM 45 – MD 17 (1990)
All-Time Series: Michigan leads 3-0
Record at Michigan Stadium: Michigan leads 3-0
Current Streak: Michigan 3

With Ohio State looming next Saturday, a Big Ten title and College Football Playoff bid for the taking, Michigan’s best remaining chance for a win is tomorrow. Maryland comes in one game better than Michigan overall at 6-4 and 3-3 in the conference, but the Terps are essentially a reverse of Michigan: better offense but worse defense.

Randy Edsall’s squad won four of its first five games of the season, beating James Madison (52-7), South Florida (24-17), Syracuse (34-20), and Indiana (37-15), and falling to West Virginia (40-37). The win over Indiana gave Maryland its first ever Big Ten victory, but it would be short-lived as the Terps met reality with a 52-24 loss to Ohio State. They got back on track with a 38-31 win over Iowa, but were demolished by Wisconsin, 52-7. Then, Maryland topped Penn State 20-19 in State College, but last week got crushed by Michigan State, 37-15.

A season of ups and downs has Maryland bowl eligible, but needing to win its final two to ensure a winning season.

Michigan and Maryland haven’t met since 1990 when Michigan won 45-17. Michigan has scored just 44 points combined in its past two games. Can Michigan beat the Terps to gain bowl eligibility? Or will Maryland force Michigan to go into Columbus fighting for its life next week? Let’s take a look at the matchup.

Michigan defense vs Maryland offense: When Maryland has the ball

Maryland’s offense ranks 65th nationally in scoring (28.8 points per game), 111th in rushing (113.9 yards per game), 66th in passing (229.8 yards per game), and 111th in total offense (343.7 yards per game). It also ranks 114th in time of possession (27:26), 116th in third-down conversions 31 percent), and 103rd in sacks allowed (2.8 per game). By comparison, Michigan averages 40 more rushing yards, 60 fewer passing yards, converts third downs seven percent better, and has allowed 10 fewer sacks.

The offense is led by quarterback C.J. Brown, who ranks eighth in the Big Ten in passing with 172.3 yards per game. He has completed just 52.7 percent of his passes with 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He also leads the team in rushing with 375 yards (3.2 yards per carry) and five touchdowns.

Brown is the only player on the team with more than 100 carries (117), but running backs Wes Brown and Brandon Ross each average about seven carries per game. Ross is the second-leading rusher with 261 yards and two touchdowns, while Brown has 260 yards and four scores. Neither has a 100-yard rushing game this season.

Maryland’s offense took a huge blow a couple weeks ago when leading receiver Stefon Diggs suffered a lacerated kidney and will likely miss the rest of the regular season. Diggs ranked second in the Big Ten with 5.8 receptions per game and fifth with 72.7 yards per game. His five touchdowns led the team. His absence leaves Deon Long to carry the load. Long is the only other player with more than 20 receptions, with 38 for 450 yards and a touchdown. Marcus Leak has the second-most receiving touchdowns — three — which have accounted for one-sixth of his receptions. The fourth-leading pass catcher is Ross, who has 14 receptions for 212 yards and two scores.

Michigan offense vs Maryland defense: When Michigan has the ball

Maryland’s defense ranks 82nd nationally in points per game (29.0), 97th against the run (198.3 yards per game), 83rd against the pass (238.5 yards per game), and 97th in total defense (436.8 yards per game). It holds opponents to a 38 percent third-down conversion rate — the same as Michigan’s defense — and has been pretty good at getting to the quarterback, raining 23rd with 28 sacks — one more than Michigan.

The line hasn’t been able to stop the run with nose tackle Darius Kilgo, who has 37 tackles, seven for loss, and two sacks. But the ends have been pretty good, especially Andre Monroe, who leads the team and ranks second in the Big Ten with 8.5 sacks and ranks second on the team with 11 tackles for loss. The other end, Keith Bowers, has 3.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks.

The linebacking corps is the strength of the defense, led by outside linebacker Yannick Ngakoue, who leads the team and ranks fifth in the conference with 12.5 tackles for loss to go along with 5.5 sacks. The other outside backer, Matt Robinson, has just 26 tackles and 1.5 for loss. In the middle, Cole Farrand and L.A. Goree have a combined 169 tackles and six for loss. They rank sixth and 10th in the Big Ten in tackles, respectively.

Cornerback Sean Davis leads the secondary. His 94 tackles and eight pass breakups lead the team and he ranks fourth in the Big Ten in tackles. The other corner, William Likely, leads the Terps with 12 passes defended, which is also tied for first in the conference. His five interceptions also lead the Big Ten and he has returned two of them for touchdowns. Safeties Zach Dancel and Anthony Nixon have combined for 55 tackles, one for loss, six passes defended, and two takeaways.

Special Teams: The other third

Kicker Brad Craddock hasn’t missed yet this season, having made all 14 attempts with a long of 57. Nine of his 14 field goals have been from 40 yards or longer and the 14 average 39.7 yards. Punter Nathan Renfro ranks seventh in the conference with an average of 41.2 yards per punt. He has landed 20 of his 71 punts inside the 20 and 11 have gone longer than 50 yards.

Likely averages 11 yards per punt return — fourth in the Big Ten — and has returned one for a touchdown. He will take over the main kick return duties from Diggs. His seven kick returns so far this season have averaged 32.6 yards, compared to Diggs’ 23.9.

Prediction

Neither team has a very good offense, especially without Diggs, but the main difference in this one is Michigan’s defense compared to Maryland’s. While it took a big hit with the dismissal of Frank Clark, it’s still much better than what the Terps bring to the table.

The weather calls for cold and rainy conditions, perhaps even freezing rain. That’s not conducive to offense and favors the team with the better defense and the better running game. Maryland’s main advantage is its passing game, but that should be negated by the weather.

I expect another ugly offensive game by both teams, similar to the Michigan-Northwestern game. On senior day in Michigan Stadium, Michigan will find a way to pull it out and become bowl eligible.

Michigan 17 – Maryland 16

First Look: Maryland

Monday, November 17th, 2014


FirstLook-Maryland

A 10-9 win over Northwestern last weekend gave Michigan its first two-game winning streak of the season and moved the Wolverines one game closer to bowl eligibility. The season’s second bye week allowed Brady Hoke’s squad to rest and prepare for the final two weeks. This Saturday, Maryland comes to town for the first time as a member of the Big Ten, and for the first time since 1990, fresh off of a 37-15 loss to Michigan State. Let’s take a look at how the two teams compare through 10 games.

Maryland Statistics & Michigan Comparison
Maryland | Michigan Rank Defense Rank
Points Per Game 28.8 | 20.7 65 | 109
29.0 | 20.4 82 | 18
Rushing Yards 1,139 | 1,541 1,983 | 1,032
Rush Avg. Per Game 113.9 | 154.1 111 | 77
198.3 | 103.2 97 | 7
Avg. Per Rush 3.5 | 4.5
4.3 | 2.8
Passing Yards 2,298 | 1,685 2,385 | 1,976
Pass Avg. Per Game 229.8 | 168.5 66 | 112 238.5 | 197.6 83 | 24
Total Offense 3,437 | 3,226 4,368 | 3,008
Total Off Avg. Per Game 343.7 | 322.6 111 | 114 436.8 | 300.8 97 | 8
Kick Return Average 25.1 | 19.0 9 | 106 21.1 | 21.6 70 | 79
Punt Return Average 12.4 | 6.5 18 | 87 9.0 | 11.9 T89 | 114
Avg. Time of Possession 27:26 | 30:14 114 | 60
32:34 | 29:46
3rd Down Conversion Pct 31.0% | 38.0% 116 | 83
38.0% | 38.0% 52 | 49
Sacks Allowed-Yards/By-Yards 28-161 | 18-111
103 | T50
28-207 | 27-231
T23 | 32
Touchdowns Scored 35 | 24
34 | 23
Field Goals-Attempts 14-14 | 12-17
17-23 | 15-19
Red Zone Scores (23-25)92%|(25-29)86% 7 | 42
(32-41)78%|(27-33)82% 35 | T51
Red Zone Touchdowns (17-25)68%|(19-29)66% (22-41)54%|(16-33)48%
Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI) .060 | -.253
55 | 94
-.045 | -.275 58 | 35

Maryland entered its first season in the Big Ten with hopes of competing for the East Division crown. The Terrapins started the season 4-1, the only loss a three-point defeat against West Virginia. But then Randy Edsall’s squad found out just how tough it is to compete week in and week out in a major conference, even one as weak as the Big Ten.

Ohio State went into College Park and handed Maryland a 52-24 loss. The Terps responded with a 38-31 win over Iowa, but got pounded by Wisconsin, 52-7 the following week. Two weeks ago, Maryland pulled out a one-point win at Penn State, 20-19, but after a bye week, got thumped by Michigan State, 37-15 this past Saturday.

Schedule
Date Opponent Result
Aug. 30 James Madison W 52-7
Sept. 6 at South Florida W 24-17
Sept. 13 West Virginia L 37-40
Sept. 20 at Syracuse W 34-20
Sept. 27 at Indiana W 37-15
Oct. 4 #20 Ohio State L 24-52
Oct. 18 Iowa W 38-31
Oct. 25 at Wisconsin L 7-52
Nov. 1 at Penn State W 20-19
Nov. 15 #12 Michigan State L 15-37
Nov. 22 at Michigan
Nov. 29 Rutgers

Maryland’s offense has been fairly similar to Michigan’s this season, but the main difference is the Terps have been able to score more points, averaging 8.1 points per game more than Michigan. The seven points scored against Wisconsin and 15 against Michigan State were the only two games with less than 20 points scored.

The main reason for Maryland’s offensive success was receiver Stefon Diggs, who had 52 receptions — second in the Big Ten — for 654 yards and five touchdowns through nine games. But he suffered a lacerated kidney against Penn State and will miss the rest of the regular season. The Terps have the sixth-best passing offense in the Big Ten, averaging 229.8 yards per game. Without Diggs against Michigan State this past Saturday, Maryland managed its fourth-best passing output of the season, but they were playing from behind the entire game. Freshman Juwann Winfree stepped up with four receptions for 80 yards and a touchdown, besting his season total yardage by 16 yards.

The running game is a different story. Quarterback C.J. Brown is the team’s leading rusher, and he’s not Denard Robinson or Braxton Miller. He’s averaging just 3.2 yards per carry and has 40 more carries (117) than the next running back, Wes Brown. Of his 375 rushing yards, 75 came on one touchdown run in Week 3. That all results in Maryland being the third-worst rush offense in the Big Ten and 111th nationally, averaging 113.9 yards per game. Michigan State held them to just six yards on 17 carries on Saturday.

Maryland’s defense is where the biggest troubles lie. The Terps allow 8.6 points more than Michigan allows, have the Big Ten’s third-worst rush defense, and third-worst pass defense. Those two units rank 97th and 83rd nationally. In total, Maryland allows 136 more yards per game than Michigan does. While Michigan has allowed just three of 10 opponents to reach 30 points, and five of 10 to score 20 or more points, Maryland has allowed more than 30 points five times and more than 20 points six times.

There have been some big performances by opponents against Maryland this season as well. West Virginia passed for 511 yards, their highest total of the season. In fact, 376 yard is WVU’s next-highest passing total this season. Iowa passed for 317, their second-highest of the season. Syracuse rushed for 370 yards, 81 more than any other game this season. In fact, Syracuse has been held below 200 yards in eight of 10 games.

On special teams, Maryland is pretty solid, ranking ninth nationally in kick returns and 18th in punt returns. However, Diggs was a big part of that, ranking sixth in the Big Ten with a 23.9-yard kick return average. Kicker Brad Craddock has made all 14 field goal attempts with the longest made in the Big Ten this season, 57 yards.

Like the Northwestern matchup last week, this game should be an evenly matched contest of two very average teams. Unlike Northwestern, Maryland’s defense is vulnerable, so Michigan’s offense shouldn’t have as much trouble moving the ball and scoring points. Expect a close game, but higher scoring than the Northwestern game.

Key Players
Passing Comp-Att Yards TD INT Average/Game
C.J. Brown 127-236 1,477 9 6 147.7
Rushing Attempts Yards TD Long Average/Carry
C.J. Brown (QB) 111 380 5 75 3.4
Brandon Ross 64 256 2 23 4.0
Wes Brown 68 255 4 33 3.8
Jacquille Veii  (WR) 14 93 2 23 6.6
Receiving Receptions Yards TD Long Average/Game
Stefon Diggs (out) 52 654 5 77 72.7
Deon Long 35 389 1 41 38.9
Marcus Leak 18 276 3 46 27.6
Brandon Ross (RB) 14 212 2 90 21.2
Wes Brown (RB) 12 128 0 38 12.8
Defense Solo Assisted Total Tackles TFL-Yds Sacks-Yds
Sean Davis (DB) 69 25 94 3.0-11 0-0 (8 PD)
Cole Farrand (LB) 50 41 91 4.0-9 0-0 (7 PD)
Andre Monroe (DL) 31 21 52 11.0-74 8.5-63
Darius Kilgo (DL) 25 12 37 7.0-30 2.0-16 (3 FR)
Yannick Ngakoue (LB) 22 10 32 12.5-74 5.5-44 (2 PD)
Kicking FG Made FG Att Long XP Made XP Att
Brad Craddock 14 14 57 34 34
Punting Punts Yds Avg. In-20 50+
Nathan Renfro 71 2,923 41.2 20 11
Full Stats

Stay tuned for more on Maryland in the coming days.

2014 opponent preview: Maryland

Monday, August 11th, 2014


2014-Opponent-Preview-Maryland

Last week we previewed the first of the two new Big Ten additions, Rutgers. Today, it’s time to take a look at the second, the Maryland Terrapins, who we feel will be the seventh-easiest, or sixth toughest, opponent on Michigan’s schedule. Previously, we previewed Appalachian State, Miami (Ohio), Minnesota, Utah, and Indiana, and Rutgers.

Overview

Schedule
Date Opponent
Aug. 30 James Madison
Sept. 6 at South Florida
Sept. 13 West Virginia
Sept. 20 at Syracuse
Sept. 27 at Indiana
Oct. 4 Ohio State
Oct. 18 Iowa
Oct. 25 at Wisconsin
Nov. 1 at Penn State
Nov. 15 Michigan State
Nov. 22 at Michigan
Nov. 29 Rutgers

In last week’s Rutgers preview, I mentioned the intrigue that new offensive coordinator Ralph Friedgen brings to the Rutgers offense. As the head coach at Maryland for 10 seasons, Friedgen raised the Terrapins profile, transforming a program that had just one winning season in the previous decade — and a 6-5 one at that — into a perennial ACC contender. The program hadn’t won a bowl game for 15 years prior to his tenure, but Friedgen guided the Terps to five bowl victories. But he was unceremoniously let go after a 9-4 campaign in 2010 — a season in which Maryland finished second in the ACC, won a bowl game, and finished ranked nationally — and replaced him with UConn’s Randy Edsall.

Edsall proceded to go 2-10 in his first season and 4-8 in his second. He finally broke the .500 mark last season with a 7-6 record, but at least it was a second straight season of progress. The main problem was that his team was incredibly young and injury-ridden. At one point late in the season, 15 players were listed as out. It would be tough for Alabama to have a successful season in that scenario, and that’s with a team full of five-stars backing up five-stars. Marlyand had talent, but not enough to overcome a tidal wave of injuries.

Now, Edsall has to get acquainted to a new conference, and like Rutgers, will have to cope with a less than friendly schedule. The Terps do miss out on Nebraska, but their other conference no-plays are Minnesota, Purdue, Illinois, and Northwestern. That’s basically the bottom half of the Big Ten. Maryland’s conference opener and closer will be the two most winnable of the bunch, at Indiana and home versus Rutgers, but the middle six will be as tough as any stretch in the conference. Maryland hosts Ohio State and Iowa, travels to Wisconsin and Penn State, comes back home against Michigan State, and then travels to Michigan. Welcome to the Big Ten.

The good news for Edsall is that he brings a wealth of young talent with him, and if his Terps can avoid the injury bug they could make some noise. But with such a difficult schedule, do they have enough talent to have a good season? Let’s take a look.

Offense

Projected Starters
Position Name, Yr. Ht, Wt 2013 Stats
QB C.J. Brown 6’3″, 218 166-282 for 2,242 yds, 13 TD, 7 INT, 576 rush yds (4.1 avg), 12 TD
RB Brandon Ross 5’10”, 210 776 yds (4.7 avg), 4 TD
FB Kenneth Goins Jr. 5’9″, 230 48 yds (5.3 avg), 4 rec for 49 yds, 1 TD
WR Deon Long 6’0″, 185 32 rec. for 489 yds, 1 TD
WR Stefon Diggs 6’0″, 190 34 rec. for 587 yds, 3 TD
TE P.J. Gallo 6’2″, 250
LT Michael Dunn 6’5″, 300 13 starts (13 career starts)
LG Salvino Altamirano 6’2″, 290 0 starts (0 career starts)
C Sal Conaboy 6’3″, 295 13 starts (22 career starts)
RG Andrew Zeller 6’4″, 310 3 starts (6 career starts)
RT Ryan Doyle 6’4″, 300 13 starts (13 career starts)

Offensive coordinator Mike Locksley is no stranger to the Big Ten, having spent four seasons as offensive coordinator under Ron Zook at Illinois from 2005-2008. His 2007 offense ranked fifth nationally in rushing, led by Rashard Mendenhall and quarterback Juice Williams. The Illini upset top-ranked Ohio State that season and went to their first Rose Bowl since 1984. A year later, Locksley took the head coaching job at New Mexico, but didn’t have the same kind of success, going 2-26 in two and a half seasons before being fired. Maryland scooped him up to replace current Penn State head coach James Franklin, who took the Vanderbilt job following the 2010 season.

Locksley’s offenses at Maryland have been nothing to write hime about so far, ranking 67th nationally in total offense in 2011, 123rd in 2012, and 77th last season. Last year’s squad also ranked 83rd in scoring (26.2 points per game), 84th in rushing (148.4 yards per game), and 49th in passing (248.2 yards per game).

Former Michigan target Stefon Diggs is one of the best receivers in the Big Ten

Former Michigan target Stefon Diggs is one of the best receivers in the Big Ten

The offense will once again be led by dual-threat quarterback C.J. Brown, now a fifth-year senior with about as much experience as Devin Gardner. He started five games in 2011 and was the starter heading into 2012 before tearing his ACL and missing the entire season. He came back and had a very good 2013 campaign, finishing third in the ACC with 256.2 yards per game. He completed 58.9 percent of his passes for 2,242 yards, 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions and rushed for 576 yards and 12 touchdowns on 4.1 yards per carry despite missing two games midseason. He became the first Maryland quarterback to throw for 2,000 yards and rush for 500 in a season. Rushing-wise, Brown was hit-or-miss a year ago. He had four 100-yard rushing games, accumulating 487 yards in those games, an average of 122 yard per game. But in the other seven, he had a combined 89 yards — an average of just 12.7 yards per game.

Brown was joined in the rushing game by Brandon Ross, who 776 yards and four touchdowns, averaging 4.7 yards per carry. But Ross was the starter in 2013 because Wes Brown, a four-star recruit in the 2012 class, missed all of last season due to a suspension. Brown was the team’s second-leading rusher as a true freshman in 2012. He and Ross are listed as co-starters on the depth chart as of now, but both will likely play a big role in the backfield. Junior Albert Reid and sophomore Jacquille Veii will also serve as change-of-pace backs. The two combined for 109 carries for 440 yards and two scores last season.

The receiving corps is where talent abounds. A pair of five-star receivers, Stefon Diggs and Deon Long, return from broken legs that kept them out of the second half of last season. The duo will form perhaps the top receiving tandem on the conference this fall. Drew ranked them best and fifth-best receivers in the Big Ten. Prior to getting injured in the seventh game, Diggs caught 34 passes for 587 yards and three touchdowns, leading the team with an average of 17.3 yards per catch. In the same time, Long had 32 catches for 489 yards and one touchdown. Average those numbers out for an entire season and Diggs would  have had 63 for 1,090 and Long 59 for 908.

Instead, their injuries allowed Levern Jacobs to step up. Jacobs led the team in receptions (47) and yards (640), but really emerged in the second half of the season, increasing his catches and yards per game from 1.9 and 35 to 6.8 and 79. He had an eight-catch, 158-yard, one touchdown performance against Clemson. Amba Etta-Tawo finished third on the team with 500 yards on 31 catches, while Nigel King added 450 yards and led the group with four touchdowns. All five of those guys are back this season in addition to Marcus Leak, who missed all of last season, but was the team’s second-leading receiver in 2012. Throw in four-star redshirt freshman slot man Taivon Jacobs, and this is as deep and talented a unit as there is in the conference.

While plenty of experience returns at quarterback, running back, and receiver, the offensive line is where things get interesting. The Terps do return 42 starts from last season and 59 career starts, but it’s a very thin depth chart. The entire left side needs to be replaced after the graduation of guard De’Onte Arnett’s, who started all 13 games, transfer of tackle Mike Madaras, who started eight, and suspension of Moise Larose, who started four. The leader of the line is senior center Sal Conaboy, a Rimington Trophy Watch List member who has 22 career starts. The tackles will be redshirt junior Ryan Doyle (13 starts) on one side and redshirt sophomore Michael Dunn (13 starts) on the other. Redshirt junior Andrew Zeller, who started the final three games last season at right guard will keep the job, while senior Silvano Altamirano will move into the lineup at led guard.

Defense

Projected Starters
Position Name, Yr. Ht, Wt 2013 Stats
DE Andre Monroe 5’11”, 282 42 tackles, 17 TFL, 9.5 sacks, 2 FF
NT Darius Kilgo 6’3″, 319 37 tackles, 6.5 TFL, 2 sacks, 1 FR
DE Quinton Jefferson 6’3″, 285 47 tackles, 7.5 TFL, 3 sacks, 2 QBH, 1 FF
OLB Matt Robinson 6’3″, 245 73 tackles, 10 TFL, 0.5 sacks, 4 PD, 2 FR
MB Cole Farrand 6’3″, 245 84 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 0.5 sacks, 1 FF
MLB L.A. Goree 6’2″, 245 76 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 1 sacks, 1 PD, 1 FF
OLB Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil 6’2″, 250 18 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 3 sacks, 1 INT
CB William Likely 5’7″, 175 70 tackles, 4.5 TFL, 1 INT, 7 PD
CB Alvin Hill 5’11”, 195 24 tackles, 2 PD
FS Sean Davis 6’1″, 200 102 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 0.5 sacks, 2 INT, 5 PD
SS Anthony Nixon 6’1″, 200 60 tackles, 3.0 TFL, 1 sack

Following Edsall’s first season at Maryland, he also replaced defensive coordinator Todd Bradford and replaced him with former Houston defensive coordinator Brian Stewart. He inherited a defense that ranked 102nd in scoring defense, 108th in total defense, 111th against the run, and 74th against the pass in 2011. He immediately turned that around in 2012, and it slipped a little bit last season, but still ranked 54th in scoring defense (25.3 points per game), 44th in total defense (375.2 yards per game), 46th in rush defense (150.1 yard per game), and 57th in pass defense (225.1 yards per game).

Despite being just 5'7", William Likely is a good corner and a dangerous return man (G. Fiume, Getty Images)

Despite being just 5’7″, William Likely is a good corner and a dangerous return man (G. Fiume, Getty Images)

While the defense regressed slightly in 2013, it returns nine starters and should be at least above average again this fall. The line should be pretty good with everyone of substance returning. Senior end Andre Monroe led the team with 17 tackles for loss and 9.5 sacks last season and Drew ranks him as the seventh-best defensive lineman in the Big Ten this fall, one spot ahead of Frank Clark. On the other end is junior Quinton Jefferson, a former four-star who added 7.5 tackles for loss and three sacks last season. The middle of the line is anchored by seniors Keith Bowers and Darius Kilgo. They’re listed as co-starters as of now, but both will play regularly. Kilgo started 12 games last season and contributed 37 tackles, 6.5 for loss, and two sacks. Bowers started nine games and recorded 32 tackles.

The linebacker group returns a lot of production, except for outside linebacker Marcus Whitfield, who finished second on the team with 15.5 tackles for loss and nine sacks a year ago. The second- and third-leading tackles from 2013 are the two returning inside linebackers, seniors Cole Ferrand and L.A. Goree. The pair combined for 160 tackles, nine for loss, and 1.5 sacks. Returning outside linebacker Matt Robinson also tallied 73 tackles, a third-best 10 tackles for loss, and half a sack. Senior Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil will replace Whitfield. Cudjoe-Virgil played in six games last season, his first after transferring from Seton Hill University, and notched 18 tackles, 3.5 for loss, three sacks, and an interception. The linebacker corps is full of experienced, but there are some touted youngsters waiting in the wings, such as four-star sophomore Yannick Ngakoue and redshirt freshman Jalen Brooks, who had a solid spring.

The secondary is also pretty stacked with potential, most notably sophomore corner William Likely, who Drew ranked as the ninth-best corner in the Big Ten this fall, one spot behind Raymon Taylor. Likely was fifth on the team with 70 tackles as a true freshman last season and led the team with seven passes defended while picking off one pass. Opposite Likely will be a battle between fifth-year senior Jeremiah Johnson, who started 12 games in 2012 and began last season as the starter but broke his toe and missed 10 games, and junior Alvin Hill, who was listed as the starter in the pre-camp depth chart.

Junior free safety Sean Davis was the team’s leading tackler last fall with 102 tackles. He also picked off two passes and had five passes defended. Drew ranked him the seventh-best safety in the conference, right behind Jarrod Wilson. Junior Anthony Nixon returns as the strong safety after a 60-tackle campaign in 2013.

Special Teams

Projected Starters
Position Name, Yr. Ht, Wt 2013 Stats
PK Brad Craddock 6’0″, 190 21-of-25, Long 50
P Nathan Renfro 6’0″, 175 40.8 avg, 18 In-20, 9 TB
KR William Likely 5’7″, 175 28 ret, 26.0 avg
PR William Likely 5’7″, 175 16 ret, 12.8 avg., 1 TD

Both kicking specialists are back from last season. Kicker Brad Craddock is our fourth-best kicker in the conference after converting 21-of-25 field goal attempts in 2013 with a long of 50. He missed only two from inside 50 yards. Punter Nathan Renfro averaged 40.8 yard per punt last season, which ranked 10th in the ACC.

There is big-play potential in the return game from Diggs and Likely. Diggs averaged 23.4 yards per kick return prior to his injury and Likely averaged 26, which ranked third in the ACC. Likely also handled punt return duties and averaged a conference fourth-best 12.8 yards per return, including one touchdown.

Outlook

It’s quite obvious that this Maryland team has a lot of experience and talent in its starting lineup, certainly enough to improve on its 7-6 record if it avoids the injury bug and if it were still in the ACC. But the conference schedule is a tough one and the Terps have West Virginia and Syracuse on the non-conference slate. Both of those teams should be beatable, but they have more meat on them than the usual non-conference foes. Maryland should be able to get through the first four unscathed and then face a shootout at Indiana. The Terps will need to win that one if they want to have a successful season because then the gauntlet begins.

With all the talent Maryland has at receiver and an experienced returning quarterback and backfield, the offensive line is still an issue and could be the stumbling block against Big Ten defenses. Edsall’s squad will need to steal one that it shouldn’t in October or November to ensure a winnings season, but may need to beat Rutgers at season’s end to simply break even. A 7-5 regular season should be considered a positive one for the Terps this fall and anything beyond that a great one. But 5-7 is also a very realistic possibility.

What it means for Michigan

Michigan will be in for a good test from Maryland in late November with a trip to Columbus looming the following week. The good news is that Michigan gets a bye week after Northwestern on Nov. 8 to prepare for Maryland, and by then they’ll have plenty of film to look at. Michigan’s defense projects to be very good this season, and this late in the season will be battle tested. The secondary will have its hands full with Diggs and Long, but Michigan certainly has enough talent and depth on its defense to handle them. Look for a close, hard-fought game throughout that Michigan should be able to win.

Big Ten Media Days: Word clouding the Big Ten coaches

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014


All 14 Big Ten coaches got 15 minutes apiece at the podium in front of the assembled media in the Hilton Chicago on Monday. Each delivered an opening statement and then fielded a few questions. Typically, there isn’t much news to come out of these sessions. It’s more of a time to drum up excitement about the upcoming season and tout all the things they’re excited about. Every coach has fantasies about Big Ten titles this time of year and doesn’t want to reveal too much, so to spice things up a bit we took an idea that we really liked from the SEC SB Nation blog Team Speed Kills and applied it to each of the Big Ten coaches’ speeches.

We used Wordle to spit out a word cloud for each coach based on the transcript from his 15 minutes at the podium. The bigger the word, the more often it was used, so you can get an idea of what each coach places the most emphasis on. As a Maize and Go Blue exclusive, we also scrubbed away the coach speak and translated what each coach was really saying.

Brady Hoke – Michigan

Hoke

There must be something wrong with this thing. “Tremendous” doesn’t fill the entire page. Neither does “Well…” or “Fergodsakes”. And contrary to popular belief in Columbus and East Lansing, although “think” was his most-used word today, Hoke does “think” about more than just donuts. He didn’t even mention them once in his 15 minutes. But I wouldn’t blame him if he did. There’s a great donut shop a short walk from the Hilton.

Urban Meyer – Ohio State

Urban

I THINK we’re GOING to be GOOD you GUYS. Good enough to have a grand total of zero Big Ten titles and zero bowl wins in my first two seasons. You know what else is good? This Chicago pizza. Have you guys ever had this stuff? It’s JUST so cheesy and…deep. So much better than that other stuff.

Mark Dantonio – Michigan State

Dantonio

You know, we had a GREAT season last YEAR and it was all because of that one GAME when we beat Michigan. The way THINGS are GOING, we’re number ONE in the state as far as FOOTBALL is concerned. Oh, we won the Rose Bowl? Well, we beat Michigan. Where’s the threat?

Bo Pelini – Nebraska

Pelini

I THINK my cat is enjoying himself up in the room. As soon as I’m done talking about FOOTBALL, I’m GOING to take him to see a LOT of Chicago THINGS. It will MAKE his day. You know, it’s LOOKING like he’s the secret ingredient to the TEAM’s success this season. I wouldn’t be where I am today without him.

James Franklin – Penn State

Franklin

I’m REALLY EXCITED about this PROGRAM. I THINK it’s GOING to be much easier than it was in the SEC. THINGS aren’t really comparable as far as facilities are concerned, but hey, it’s an OPPORTUNITY and I can’t wait to meet Sandy Barbour woman.

Gary Andersen – Wisconsin

Andersen

I’m glad to begin my second YEAR at Wisconsin. We don’t hear much about Brigham YOUNG around here and that’s always a GOOD thing. These cheese-loving folks are about as GOOD as it GETs. You know, the Packers have that tradition where they let the KIDS give the PLAYERS bike rides, and with the YOUTH we have I THINK that’s a good POSITION to take with this TEAM.

Pat Fitzgerald – Northwestern

Fitzgerald

I THINK it’s so GREAT that you GUYS haven’t asked about unions yet. We just want to play FOOTBALL. I’m not GOING to talk about the WAY our former QUARTERBACK tried to hurt our PROGRAM last YEAR by trying to unionize. These guys are a TEAM, not employees. LOOK, I won’t talk about it at all.

Kirk Ferentz – Iowa

Ferentz

It’s CERTAINLY a GREAT YEAR for Big Ten Media Days with the addition of Rutgers and Maryland. I’ve been coming to this THING for 16 YEARS and it has gotten stale. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve GOT some GOOD coaches in this conference but I THINK Kyle and Randy have what it takes to spice things up a little bit, kind of like Greg Davis and Phil Parker did for me in Iowa City last season.

Kevin Wilson – Indiana

Wilson

Wait, we can’t JUST PLAY offense in the Big Ten? Why didn’t you GUYS tell me that three YEARs ago? My boy Rich Rod told me that’s how you succeed in this conference. I’m starting to THINK he was just pulling my chain. I had to bring in a new defensive coordinator this offseason and he’s GOING to have to get the job done. Go big or go HOME, right?

Jerry Kill – Minnesota

Kill

I’ve GOT this program trending in the right direction, getting BETTER each YEAR, and I THINK that will continue. Have you guys seen that brown jug thing? My KIDS were asking about it, but I’ve GOTTA say, I don’t think that thing actually exists. If it does, our PLAYERS are going to GET it DONE this season. Oh, who am I kidding?

Randy Edsall – Maryland

Edsall

Crabcakes and football. That’s what MARYLAND does! We’re GOING to win the BIG East…I mean ACC…I mean American Athletic Conf…wait, what conference am I in now? Big TEN! That’s right. I THINK I’m gonna need Kirk to show me around.

Tim Beckman – Illinois

Beckman

FOOTBALL! We’ve got lots of PLAYERS, man. But with Scheelhaase gone we need a new QUARTERBACK, so this offseason I set up shop in Tallahassee when I heard Famous Jameis might be in trouble. I really WANT that guy. But it didn’t work out. Anyone else have sanctions going on this YEAR?

Kyle Flood – Rutgers

Flood

This is a cute city you midwestern folks have out here. I mean, REALLY, it’s cute, but it doesn’t compare to the BIG city we have in my part of the country. Chicago has one FOOTBALL team, New York have two, and you know what: they play in Jersey, home of RUTGERS, the school that started football.

Darrell Hazell – Purdue

Hazell

Alright you GUYS. THINGS are GOING just RIGHT for us this YEAR. Have you heard about our 6-foot-8, 400-pound PLAYER? We’ve got the biggest drum and now the biggest FOOTBALL player in the conference. That should guarantee us at least two wins this year.