by Mark Edwards
Let’s be honest…Michigan Football has suffered from some painful losses in the last 10 years. I’m sure everybody is now thinking of their list. The Horror, The Snap, etc…they’re all real. For me, there was no bigger gut punch that the 2015 visit to Michigan Stadium by Ohio State. I entered the Big House thinking that this Michigan team was ready to compete (and in some respects still believe that they were ready). After the game, D.J. “Benedict Arnold” Durkin took the Maryland job. There’s no fault in that. Then the details started to leak and I’m still livid two years later. Durkin met with Maryland during the week of prep for the Buckeyes. Listen, here’s Durkin’s response to the request if he asks me:
“I’m honored that you would think enough of me to reach out to measure my interest. But please know this…I coach at Michigan. We have Ohio State this week. I’d love to talk to you but you have to WAIT until after the game Saturday. I’m singularly focused on giving this team all that I have. If you want to at Maryland, you will get that kind of focus, loyalty and attitude but I have one more week to give MICHIGAN all that I have.”
Ironically, Durkin did none of that. I know that Jim Harbaugh let him speak with Maryland but I find it almost impossible to believe that Bo would’ve done that. I left the stadium that day livid with Durkin and my brother was telling me to calm down. Matter of fact, he still is. So this column is dedication to the guy who coined the phrase “Those who leave will be Terrapins” and that is DJ Durkin. This one’s for you!
Maryland has one of the worst pass defenses in the country (99th in the country). So is Brandon Peters going to throw the ball all over the field on Saturday? I don’t think that’s the plan. Michigan, with the power running game, will employ the Higdon-Evans tandem to try to impose their will on the Terrapins. Maryland has the 74th ranked rushing defense, which allows 174.8 yards per game on the ground. I expect to see a balanced approach with Peters throwing 20-23 times.
On the ground, can Michigan continue to find success with their toss, counter, power and zone schemes? I think they will but it won’t be “Minnesota type” success. This is the game where we find out what the plan is as we move to Wisconsin next week. I was encouraged by the creativity of the TE screen last week and expect that we will see more wrinkles this week to take advantage of a Maryland scheme that Harbaugh knows all too well.
Maryland could possibly play their 4th string quarterback on Saturday. That alone has to have Don Brown & Co. licking their chops. If you haven’t seen Maryland play, WR D.J. Moore is “the guy.” Let’s be honest, he’s a dude. Everything Maryland wants to do will revolve around getting him the ball (i.e. WR slip screens, jet sweeps, possibly a wildcat run). However, Maryland will be one dimensional because that is exactly what Don Brown wants an opponent to be. This isn’t the same Maryland offense that beat Texas in Austin in September. They are beset by injuries and mostly at the QB position.
The strategy of the day is to blitz…A LOT! Expect to see a lot of Devin Bush Jr., Khaleke Hudson and even CB David Long.
FINAL SCORE: Michigan 42, Maryland 7
PICKS TO CLICK: Offense – Mike Onwenu, Defense – Maurice Hurst Jr.
CONFIDENCE LEVEL: 10
ONE THING THAT MAY SURPRISE: Michigan have two 100 yard rushers and one of them isn’t named Evans or Higdon.
ONE THING THAT MAY DISAPPOINT: The punting situation will again be meh. Brad Robbins, who in pregame launches punts to Mars, will fail to have a 40 yard net average.