The good, the bad and the ugly: Maryland
The Michigan football team (5-2 Big Ten, 8-2 overall) cruised to a 35-10 win against Maryland on Saturday.
After beating the Terrapins (4-6, 2-5), the Wolverines now move on to the final two games of their regular season with three consecutive wins. Redshirt freshman quarterback Brandon Peters impressed again in his first road start, and sophomore running back Chris Evans scored multiple touchdowns again. But in other facets of the game, there was room for improvement.
The Daily breaks down the good, the bad and the ugly from Saturday’s game.
When Evans scores, he scores abundantly.
Evans’ workload increased with junior running back Karan Higdon’s injury — more on that below — and he excelled with the extra touches.
The sophomore rushed for two touchdowns in a game for the third time this season. Evans ran for 90 yards on 15 carries, and he also eclipsed 500 total rushing yards on the season.
In his first road game, Peters completed 50 percent of his passes and threw for 145 yards and two touchdowns. Both touchdowns went to tight ends. The first arrived early in the second quarter when redshirt sophomore tight end Zach Gentry streaked down the middle for the catch. The other touchdown arrived on Peters’ very next throw, a rollout pass to a wide open sophomore tight end Sean McKeon.
Peters has thrown three of his four touchdown passes to tight ends, and his connection with them has been beneficial for the Wolverines’ offense in the red zone.
Michigan may have left College Park with a comfortable win, but their defenses’ uninspiring second half left a lot on the table.
Maryland, using its fourth-string quarterback Ryan Brand, had the Big Ten’s third-worst total offense prior to Saturday’s game, but outgained the Wolverines with 340 yards of offense — Michigan had 305.
The Terrapins had three consecutive drives of 55, 75 and 85 yards over a stretch in the second half.
The Wolverines gave up more yards to Maryland than they did to every other team except No. 14 Penn State.
While Harbaugh insisted after the game that Michigan exhibited its best execution from all three units — offense, defense and special teams — it was clear that at least one of those groups could have done better.
There are two important points to make in this section. First, the evident frustration between Harbaugh and redshirt freshman kicker Quinn Nordin will be something to watch going forward. And second, a handful of key players appeared to suffer injuries in the game Saturday.
Nordin has missed all three field goal attempts he has taken in the last four games, and he’s also missed two extra points during that stretch.
He and Harbaugh appeared to have a hostile conversation on the sideline after he missed a 31-yard field goal attempt. The coach stated after the game that the conversation was not “heated,” and that he told Nordin that he would only get one more chance before Harbaugh benches him.
As for the injuries, junior running back Karan Higdon left the game late in the second quarter and did not return due to an ankle injury. Higdon has been the best player on Michigan’s offense for the past month, and the team can’t afford to lose him for games against Wisconsin and Ohio State.
On defense, sophomore cornerback Lavert Hill suffered a concussion after taking a hit in the first half. The coaches immediately put Hill into the concussion protocol.
Sophomore defensive end Rashan Gary left the game in the fourth quarter after staying down on the field for a few moments, but fifth-year senior defensive tackle Maurice Hurst said that Gary was fine after the game.