Former Michigan defensive coordinator DJ Durkin brought his Maryland Terrapins to Ann Arbor for an early November showdown in the Big House. And it didn’t go as well as he could have hoped. The Wolverines welcomed the Terps to town with five straight touchdown drives to start the game and a “bend but don’t break” defense that kept Maryland’s offense quiet all day long.
Thanks to a complete performance from the entire team, Michigan moves to 9-0 on the season with its 59-3 win over Maryland.
Check out my game grades and analysis:
Wilton Speight has started to catch fire as the season has gone along, but his performance against Maryland is easily the best he’s looked in his short career.
Speight was calm, cool and collected in the pocket all day and made several big plays with both his legs and his arm. His day ended at the beginning of the fourth quarter as he finished the game 19-of-24 for a career high 362 yards passing, two touchdown passes, one touchdown run and an average of 15.1 yards per pass.
As for the receivers, Jehu Chesson (five receptions for 112 yards and one touchdown), Jake Butt (5 receptions for 76 yards) and Amara Darboh (four receptions for 77 yards and one touchdown).
Overall, it was a very nice day for Michigan’s entire passing attack.
Maryland came into the game allowing 220.1 yards on the ground. Well, Michigan went beyond that number as the stable of Wolverine tailbacks put up 273 yards rushing in total.
De’Veon Smith, who carried the rock 19 times for 114 yards and three touchdowns, led Michigan’s rushing attack. But he wasn’t alone. Ty Isaac added 56 yards on two carries, Chris Evans racked up 32 yards on four carries and Khalid Hill found paydirt once again in the second half.
Outside of Smith, Michigan didn’t put up gaudy numbers, but it did put on a very nice showing in front 110,000-plus fans.
For the sixth time in nine games, the Michigan defense faced the backup quarterback(s) for the opposing team. This time, it was Chase Winovich’s big hit on starter Perry Hills in the first half that opened the door for Caleb Rowe to come into the game.
And that didn’t help Maryland’s chances as Rowe finished the day 12-of-23 for 203 yards and two very bad interceptions.
The majority of Maryland’s passing yards came from short screen passes that ate up a lot of yardage. But when the Terps got into scoring territory, Jourdan Lewis, Delano Hill (two interceptions), Dymonte Thomas and Channing Stribling locked down the secondary long enough for the pass rush to get after Rowe.
Michigan came into the game allowing 111.1 rushing yards per game, which puts the defense among the best in the country. And the players backed it up as the Wolverines held Maryland to just 78 yards rushing on 38 attempts for an average of 2.1 yards per carry.
While those numbers are very good, Michigan was gashed a couple of times on the outside thanks to poor play recognition and missed tackles from several different players. Channing Stribling and Mike McCray were the main players exposed.
Look for the staff to focus hard on containment in the final weeks of the season.
Another perfect day for Kenny Allen and the kicking team. He was 1-of-1 on field goals, 100 percent on extra points and didn’t have to punt at all.
As for the return game, Michigan didn’t have any big plays with the ball in its hands, but the coverage teams were fantastic. Keeping Maryland backed up near its end zone on every kickoff.
Being great friends and former co-workers, Jim Harbaugh was expected to take it a little easy on DJ Durkin in their first matchup as head coaches. However, Harbaugh kept his foot on the gas throughout the game, even with the backups in the game, and reminded Durkin who the teacher and student were in their relationship.
As for play-calling, a ton of credit has to go to Jedd Fisch and Tim Drevno as they drew up a ton of power plays, great route trees and the occasional trick play to punish the Terps throughout the day.