Instant Reactions: Michigan 34, Maryland 27

Maryland hung around with Michigan all day but saw its comeback efforts fall short as Michigan handed Maryland its first loss of the season in a 34-27 game. Instant reactions from a competitive game in Ann Arbor:

  • After receiving the opening kickoff, receiver Tai Felton fumbled the opening kickoff to set up Michigan’s offense with the ball inside the Maryland 10-yard line just seconds into the game. Michigan capitalized to score a touchdown just seconds into the game, tied for their fastest touchdown in program history, but Maryland would battle back. Maryland responded with an eight-play, 40-yard drive that ended in a 53-yard field goal by Chad Ryland to tie the game. After Michigan went up 10-3, Maryland’s offense had its turn and capped off a beautiful drive with a two-yard rushing touchdown for Antwain Littleton. A beautifully designed pitch play to TE Corey Dyches helped extend the drive, while QB Taulia Tagovailoa converted a pair of third downs with his receivers finding space with Dyches becoming a key weapon on the drive.

  • Maryland had a chance to reel in an interception in the fourth quarter before Trader was called out-of-bounds, but the defense did come away with one takeaway in the loss. After Maryland tied the game at 10, Michigan’s rushing attack carried the Wolverines into Maryland territory until Maryland’s defense generated its third turnover of the season and first of the game. Michigan RB CJ Stokes took a handoff inside before Maryland LB VanDarius Cowan generated a strip, allowing LB Ahmad McCullough to pounce on the football in the final seconds of the first quarter. Maryland turned it into points after Taulia found Jeshaun Jones for a 25-yard reception to push the offense into Michigan territory and Ryland knocked through a 52-yard field goal, his second 50-plus yard conversion on the day and his 23rd consecutive made field goal. The forced fumble, though, would be the lone turnover as Maryland also fumbled the ball once and QB Taulia Tagovailoa threw a pair of interceptions.
  • With a 13-10 lead, Taulia’s first interception came in the 2nd quarter when his pass was jumped and intercepted, though instant replay showed the ball hitting the ground. The play was never reviewed, though, and Michigan turned the ensuing drive into three points to tie the game at 13. Midway through the fourth quarter in a one score game, Taulia’s second interception came on a throw in double coverage, though Jacob Copeland drew physical coverage downfield. The second interception, though, was seen as the second dagger in Maryland’s performance with Michigan taking over near midfield and soon extended the lead to double digits.
  • Maryland’s rushing attack was a two-man show on Saturday with Roman Hemby and Antwain Littleton combining for 87 yards on the ground and Taulia adding his own 20 yards on the day. Ramon Brown also drew one carry for five yards, making Colby McDonald the lone running back inactive on the day as he battles back from nicks and bruises. Though Maryland averaged over five yards per carry in the first quarter, the rushing attack saw just nine combined carries in the second and third quarter as Maryland’s offense showed signs of the one-dimensional approach.
  • On the flip side, Maryland’s run defense was significantly tested as local product Blake Corum amassed 243 rushing yards, the most for a Michigan running back in a single game since 1995. Corum was responsible for all six of Michigan’s plays that amassed more than 15 yards on the ground, including a 47-yard touchdown that sealed the game late in the fourth quarter. Maryland also struggled to tackle in space early in the game as Michigan’s offense found its grove early. While Michigan’s rushing attack stuck out, the passing attack did not despite 220 yards and a pair of passing touchdowns from Michigan QB JJ McCarthy. Maryland’s downfield coverage helped set the defensive line up with a pair of sacks, one each from Gavin Gibson and Tank Booker, and was a big reason why the Terps were able to keep it a one-possession game for the bulk of the game.

  • Maryland’s opening drive in the second half welcomed a pair of new offensive linemen—Coltin Deery at C, Amelio Moran at RG and Johari Branch at LG—as the Terps approached midfield. But on 2nd-and-9 approaching midfield, QB Taulia Tagovailoa took a hit just after his release and exited the game with what appeared to be a hip injury. Billy Edwards relieved him, leading to an incompletion on 3rd down, but Taulia returned to the game on the ensuing drive. After Michigan opened the margin to 24-13 thanks to a 20-yard touchdown seconds into the fourth quarter Maryland drove 75 yards in ten plays to bring it back to a one-score game before a failed two-point conversion made it 24-19. Michigan turned in a field goal on the ensuing possession to keep it a one-possession game before Taulia’s second interception effectively ended the game. Michigan and Maryland would trade touchdowns to make it a 34-27 loss, but still a game where Maryland drew respect on a national stage.
  • Maryland finished a perfect 3-for-3 in the redzone with three touchdowns, two of them coming through the air, and were called for just one penalty on the day. After suffering 15 penalties one week ago against SMU, it’s arguably the biggest sign of growth from a Maryland offense led by veterans that leads the Big Ten in returning starters. Locksley also credited Maryland for getting to over 70 offensive plays in the loss, finishing the day with 73 plays, while the offense averaged over five yards per play.
  • Despite the loss, Maryland’s 34-27 loss was the closest that the Terps have played Michigan since upsetting the Wolverines back in 2014. Sure, Maryland suffered its first defeat of the season and sure, Locksley and the team won’t accept moral wins with a need to take the next step in conference play. But when Locksley referenced ‘Terps vs. Terps’ throughout the offseason, that referenced execution and miscues. On Saturday, Maryland largely executed and avoided the miscues. The biggest detriment when it comes to miscues came on the first play of the day, Felton’s fumble on the opening kickoff, but Maryland’s efficiency on both sides of the ball created a more optimistic feeling among Maryland fans. Maryland still needs to beat the top Big Ten teams to move the needle for fan engagement, but the close loss certainly doesn’t send fans away from supporting the 2022 Maryland team. Maryland will have its next chance when it hosts Michigan State next weekend, a chance to get back to .500 in conference play.
  • Maryland was without a pair of defenders on Saturday with linebacker Ruben Hyppolite and defensive back Glen Miller not making the trip. Hyppolite is a strong candidate to suit up next weekend vs. Michigan State, while Miller is expected to be sidelined for weeks longer. While QB Taulia Tagovailoa went down with an apparent injury but returned to the game, wide receiver Rakim Jarrett was tended to due to a shoulder injury and did not come back to the game.

Maryland will host Michigan State in the first game at SECU stadium next Saturday. Kickoff is set for 3:30 PM.