Over the last few weeks, the Michigan football team has answered questions about looking ahead.
That’s because the Wolverines were facing teams like Rutgers and Indiana — teams they have to say they fully focused on, but are not exactly the cream of the crop.
And, in case you haven’t heard, Michigan plays Ohio State this week.
But the Wolverines stayed disciplined. When they were asked about looking ahead, they said they didn’t do it. They had to pay attention to the Scarlet Knights and Hoosiers to avoid upsets.
This week, though, in a moment of honesty, sophomore defensive tackle Carlo Kemp gave a hint that maybe it isn’t that cut and dry.
“They’re always right there in the back of your mind,” Kemp said of the Buckeyes. “You’re always watching, like what are they doing? How are they doing? And I can’t wait to get to the game. And, you know, when it’s that time, which it is this week, you know, you watch film of all your opponents that week, but you always do a little bit of watching of, how did (Ohio State) play against that team? What did they do against that team? And you get to bring it all out for this last shot against them.”
If that’s the case, then Michigan saw something tantalizing this past weekend. The Buckeyes were absolutely gashed by Maryland, giving up 339 rushing yards, 535 total yards and 51 points to the 5-6 Terrapins.
“Yeah, definitely,” said senior running back Karan Higdon, when asked if that performance got him excited to face Ohio State. “It’s gonna make it that much more fun, seeing whatever the opponents did against them. But we’ve still gotta play the game.”
But how did Maryland run for 339 rushing yards against the No. 10 team in the country? The Daily breaks down the holes in the Buckeyes’ defense against the Terrapins.
Something you will come to understand through this article, is that Ohio State clearly came into the game with a plan to negate Marlyland’s jet sweeps.
The Terrapins run this kind of action on nearly every play from scrimmage, and the Buckeyes were dead set on stopping it.
When the Maryland receiver goes in motion and the ball is snapped, cornerback Damon Arnette vacates the area where the play eventually comes.
Meanwhile, both Ohio State linebackers run through the same, incorrect gap. So when running back Anthony McFarland gets the handoff, there is nobody — and I mean nobody — to contain the left edge, and McFarland trots 81 yards, untouched, for a game-opening touchdown.
On this play, the Terrapins set up in trips to the right side, and the Buckeyes respond by manning up on them and shading a safety to that side, as well.
When the ball is snapped, defensive end Chase Young is frozen by the threat of the quarterback keeper. So when the McFarland gets the handoff again, all that is left to stop him is a lone safety, Brendon White.
White whiffs on the tackle, and McFarland is gone to make it 14-3 early.
This is essentially the same situation, just with the formation flipped. Ohio State, again, loads up the trips side of the field.
Maryland sends its slot receiver in zipper motion, snaps the ball and again hands to McFarland.
There isn’t much of a fake on this play, and the Buckeyes keep pretty good contain to the outside, so they should be set up well to stop this one.
But linebacker Malik Harrison fills the wrong gap, White gets washed outside and the rest of Ohio State’s defensive line can’t get off its blocks, so again McFarland runs free for a huge gain.
The Buckeyes line up heavy to the strong side again here (are you sensing a theme?) And, a lot like the first long touchdown run, when the Terrapins send a man in jet motion, Ohio State’s safeties shift over and leave nobody on the boundary side of the field.
And once again, Maryland hands to McFarland. This time Young seems to bite on the fake, standing straight up at the snap and shuffling to his left, leaving absolutely nobody to set the edge on that side of the field.
Harrison tries to get there, and linebacker Tuf Borland tries to fly underneath the play to catch McFarland, but neither make much of a difference, as the Terrapins have one-on-one blocks to send McFarland straight to the endzone.
To begin the second half, it looked like the Buckeyes made an adjustment, keeping more defenders home when Maryland loaded one side of the field.
However, the Terrapins make a bit of an adjustment too. They send a man in motion, as usual, then hand it strongside to McFarland, while the weakside tight end breaks out like he is trying to seal an edge.
It holds Ohio State’s boundary defenders in place for a beat, and McFarland goes to the backside, again making moves on the Buckeyes’ defenders and finishing with another big gain.
Finally, after all these fakes, it gets to overtime, and the Terrapins finally give it on the jet motion. To be fair, they had done so prior in the game, but without much success.
But this time, Ohio State stays home and plays the running back, but Maryland lined up McFarland as the jet motion player, and they give it to him around the right side.
Linebacker Pete Werner is caught looking in the backfield, and White comes streaking through too shallow and missing McFarland, who breaks outside and is tackled just short of the goal line, setting up what would be the final touchdown of the game.
All of this is to say that the Buckeyes struggled getting spread out and then run at against the Terrapins.
Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson makes the Wolverines capable of this. Their running game is multi-dimensional. Patterson has shown he can keep the ball and stretch the defense.
And Michigan has even used jet-sweep action throughout the season. Look for coach Jim Harbaugh to potentially use that action again with how Maryland exploited Ohio State with it.