No Moral Victories in Maryland’s 34-27 Loss at Michigan

Maryland football’s first Big Ten game ended in its first loss of the season with Michigan pulling out a 34-27 win in Ann Arbor. Head coach Mike Locksley isn’t accepting any moral victories despite his team battling for 60 minutes against the fourth-ranked team in the country.

“Like I told our team, we don’t believe in moral victories,” Locksley said following the loss. “Close is not good enough, but I’m proud of the way our team fought. I like the effort that we play with. We faced adversity throughout the game, including spotting them a touchdown there right at the beginning, which, you know, as I’ve said here, good teams don’t need help and we sure gave them a cheap, easy one right off the bat.”

The game opened with a fumbled catch on the opening kickoff, setting Michigan’s offense up inside the ten-yard line as they found the endzone on the first offensive play. Ever since then, Maryland showed it matched up against Michigan—a sight that fans haven’t seen since 2014. The graduating class ends their careers against Michigan without a win but the confidence and execution in Saturday’s loss is a trait lost in previous matchups.

“I mean, this is a good game to build upon,” offensive tackle Spencer Anderson added. “Obviously we didn’t have the result we wanted, but something to build upon and get in, get it washed and roll to the next.”

Stars Injured in Loss

Taulia Tagovailoa ended his day 20-of-30 for 207 yards and one touchdown while completing passes to ten different receivers, but also threw a pair of interceptions on the day. The first interception proved a questionable call after replay showed the ball on the ground, but the play was never challenged nor reviewed as Michigan took over on their own half of the field. The second came as Taulia threw to Jacob Copeland in double coverage early in the fourth quarter. Later in the fourth, Taulia took a hit that sidelined him from the series. To make matters worse, Taulia’s injury came after Rakim Jarrett exited the game in the final minutes of the third quarter. Jarrett came down hard on an intended pass on 3rd-and-9 and was tended to by the trainers before walking off on his own power.

“Rak [Jarrett] obviously was ruled out. I think he hit his head on the turf, so we’ll know more obviously when we get back,” Locksley said postgame. “With [Taulia] battling a little bit of a knee, a little bit of a rib, a little banged up today, so probably won’t know much until we get checked in there tomorrow and then we’ll have a better feel.”

Jarrett finished tied for a team-high four catches on seven targets for 12 yards in the loss as Taulia found ten different receivers on the day. All eyes are on both stars this week as Maryland prepares for Michigan State.

Execution Improves, but Maryland Loses Turnover Battle

One week after committing 15 penalties for 141 yards, Maryland was called for just one penalty in the loss. Mike Locksley offered a blunt explanation for the change in play. “I guess they did what they’re coached to do.” The lone penalty came in the opening minute of the fourth quarter after DJ Glaze was called for a false start, but the stark difference in execution maximized Maryland’s chances of an upset. “What we showed last week, penalty wise, wasn’t us. And I think the big emphasis for us was to just kind of shift the focus to being more disciplined team, which we are, which coach preaches all the time,” Anderson added.

Meanwhile, after the defense allowed over 500 yards of total offense in last week’s win, Michigan finished with 463 yards of total offense with 220 yards through the air. 73 of those yards came in the final quarter to help Michigan outlast Maryland’s upset bid, but cornerback Jakorian Bennett sees progress after the defense was not called for a single penalty. “I’m glad, you know, cause what last week we had like 15,” Bennett added. “We’re heading in the right direction with that. Coach put an emphasis on just not doing dumb things and not beating ourselves and, you know, I really felt like we really kind of locked in and really focused today.”

Still, Locksley sees ample room to improve after suffering three turnovers.

“The thing we know is that you can’t turn the ball over against good teams. We had two critical plays in the game, 4th-and-one late in the first half where we weren’t lined up correctly, gave them a cheap one. And then the 3rd-and-five when the game was right in its critical moments where we didn’t have an edge to our defense. That’s on us as coaches and as players to figure out when we have opportunities against good teams, how to execute at a high level and today we didn’t do enough of that. We gotta get that cleaned up. I can’t dwell on this game as a team. We can’t dwell on this game because we got another great opportunity in The Shell next week against a good Michigan State team that’ll be coming in there and, and for us, we gotta get the things corrected.”

Locksley saw obvious room for correction on both interceptions. “The early one, the receivers gotta shave it and kind of take away the angle for the [defensive back], which, you know, we’ll get that corrected. The second one was just egregious. You know, we threw into double coverage, didn’t confirm the coverage, something that’s happened here before.”

Run Defense Abused

With running back Donovan Edwards held out against Maryland, that meant it was Blake Corum’s day and it didn’t disappoint. The former Saint Vincent Pallotti star finished with 243 yards on 30 carries, the most yards by a Michigan running back since 1995, as the Wolverines finished with over six yards per carry. Maryland’s front seven was without linebacker Ruben Hyppolite, who did not travel with the team, but the defense had no answer for Corum on the day.

“He’s definitely a good running back. Small guy, but he runs powerfully, he’s shifty. Oh yeah, he did, he did a lot of good things,” Bennett added. Corum became the first opposing running back to rush for over 200 yards in a game against Maryland since Mohamed Ibrahim totaled 207 yards back in 2020.

“Again, when you got that many guys up around the ball, gap control, eye discipline. You know, we gave up two cheap, long runs, one of ’em on 4th-and-one where it was just a matter of everybody in their gap,” Locksley added. “And then the other one on 3rd-and-five, every gap should be controlled. We should have a player in every gap.”

Ryland Extends Field Goal Streak

Kicker Chad Ryland extended his consecutive field goal streak to 23 in Saturday’s loss after knocking through a 53 and 52-yard field goal in the first half. The first make came after VanDarius Cowan striped CJ Stokes deep in Maryland territory and linebacker Ahmad McCullough came away with the recovery. The second attempt gave Maryland a brief 13-10 lead in the 2nd quarter but after Ryland gave the coaching staff his pregame target line at the 37-yard line, there’s more evidence why he’s been a crucial piece to Maryland’s success.

“Personally, didn’t have the best week of practice, but they still trust me come game time to flip the switch and get the job done. And I mean, it’s as much me as it is Colton [Spangler] holding, Ethan [Gough] snapping and the big guys up front too,” Ryland said postgame. “So, I give ’em my target line, pregame, anything within that target line, I tell him I can make it. Um, and then he trusts me to do my job and the other guys to do their job as well.”

Signs of Growth Despite Loss

From beginning to end, Maryland had a chance in this game. Maryland needs to top one of the Big Ten elites in year four under head coach Mike Locksley to change the narrative about the program’s conference standing, but Saturday proved that Maryland could match up with those teams. “Coach [Brian Williams], he put emphasis on just being poised and being disciplined,” Bennett added.

Head coach Mike Locksley was pleased with his team’s effort in the loss.

“The DNA of this team as being a team that’s gonna play for four quarters,” Locksley added. “I don’t ever feel like we looked at the scoreboard and we had every chance to, when you give up a cheap touchdown at the end of the half, you give them seven points right at the beginning we give up the game is on the line. We gave up a long run to put ’em ahead when we had a chance to stop ’em and then, you know, the two-minute drive Billy Edwards came in and, and executed. I mean, those are the things that give me hope that they’re listening, that they understand that we’re not a team that will play to the scoreboard. It’s all about us executing the things that we ask them to do.

Related Links

Watch: Locksley, players recap loss to Michigan

Instant Reactions: Michigan 34, Maryland 27