Maryland Vs SMU Review; Michigan Preview
The Maryland vs SMU game was a shootout, but not as high of a score as I thought it would be. Maryland wins 34-27 in the final match at Capitol One Field(now referred to as SECU Stadium). Overall there is a lot to take away from this game and I will go over it.
The Offense was explosive on Saturday night, but the theme of the night was discipline. The Terps had a ton of penalties. Mason Lunsford led the way with 2 False Starts and a hold. Jeshaun Jones got called with an Awful Unsportsmanlike Conduct and a Blind-side block penalty. Jeshaun has a history of Taunting calls(I thought this one wasn't bad) and it proves to be a problem on most weeks and while it didn't negate a TD(A holding penalty did that) It put them in a terrible 3rd and 31 where the Terps had to settle for a field goal. That's about it Negatively other than a Colby Mcdonald fumble. Coming into the season the Terps were marked as a Passing team and early in the season, it's a lot more balanced than Most of us were expecting. Taulia Tagovailoa only attempted 23 passes, completing 17 for 214 and 2Touchdowns and he was nearly perfect all day. One thing that stood out is how slippery he is, there were a lot of opportunities for sacks, even an opportunity for a safety at one point and he still got away. He's not scared of contact either, a couple of times he laid his head down and tried to run over some tacklers. The Terps went with more consistency in the air only playing 5 Wrs in the game. Not sure if he left with an injury or what, but Jacob Copeland only played 19 total snaps and had 1 catch in the game. Although 10 on the total 17 completions went to Roman Hemby and Corey Dyches. Corey Dyches tends to go East-West instead of going north and in one instance it hurt him, but on a big 4th and 9 from our side of the field, he used the 2nd effort to get himself a HUGE 1st down. He also made an insane catch to pin the ball with 1 hand to score the final TD of the night for the Terps. Rakim Jarrett had 2 catches and the explosive TD right after a Pick from Beau Brade. Dontay Demus was a guy who had 1st round hype in last year's draft before a gruesome injury and he was almost invisible again today, you can tell he's not fully healthy and who knows if he'll even get back to his dominant self before the season is over. He had a pretty bad drop on the sideline that went right through his arms. The run game was electrifying and Roman Hemby led the way again. 16 Carries for 151 and a TD and 2 huge 30+ yard runs including one on the first offensive play of the day. He would gain 6-7 yards a clip and look almost unstoppable. Antwain Littleton scored again too, with a cool flip into the endzone. Colby Mcdonald has stayed in the doghouse early in the season with only 9 carries through 3 games and he fumbled on his only catch. Maryland used a more consistent lineup with 4 linemen getting all 63 Offensive snaps, the only one being Mason Lunsford, who had a bad night. Johari Branch struggled as well, multiple times the pocket was pushed back into Lia and he had to evade defenders. Duncan and Spencer Anderson had an NFL-level pass blocking day, only allowing 1 pressure from Duncan. PFF Rated Mason Lunsford the highest in Run Blocking. Overall, I liked what I have seen from the Offense, and The bulk of the penalties was from 1 drive. The first half was very slow but they picked It up big time in the second half. Another thing that stood out to me was a QB-designed run on 3rd down that would have sealed the game, not a good play call there.
DEFENSE + Special Teams
Man, I don't know if I've ever seen that many Pass Interference calls in a game lol. That was the biggest takeaway from the night, the Cornerbacks were grabbing on for dear life and got called every single time. But thanks to a rough night from Tanner Mordecai the Terps were able to force 3 Turnovers from SMUs Offense. In the passing game, Tanner Mordecai went for 369 Yards but also threw 54 times and completed just above 54% of passes with 2 Interceptions as well. Rashee Rice, A player with Exploding stock, Burnt the Terps. He was open on every single play and Forced just about all the PI calls in the game. SMU faced some drop issues as well, most stemming from bad throws by Mordecai. On the run game, they used a TON of Tre Siggers giving him 19 Carries. He had a decent day averaging 4.5 YPC but as a whole Maryland stuffed the SMU Run game. SMU ran 101 total plays, an absurd number for a defense to be able to handle. SMU played uptempo and dinked and dunked their way with an occasional big gain. Safeties Dante Trader and Beau Brade both got the Interceptions and Brade punched the ball out to force a fumble. Brade impressed with his play and looks like an NFL safety early in his career. The pressure was pretty bad and a lot of 3 rush sets gave Mordecai 5+ Seconds to find the open man. Maryland NEEDS to up the pressure rate or they will get killed in Big Ten play. Jaishawn Barham was awesome in the Run defense and made some exciting tackles for a freshman. Maryland lost Rueben Hyppolite early in the game and Ahmad McCullough stepped up in his place. A couple of things that stood out about the snap count, FR Caleb Wheatland had only 3 snaps and Taisze Johnson finally got on the field for his first game. Maryland, Surprisingly, got both Tarheeb Still and Corey Coley Jr to play this game and that will be big going forward. The last guy I want to shout out is FR Gavin Gibson who was rated as the 4th best defensive player in this game.
Special Teams was good other than the Tai Felton fumble on a kickoff. But he averaged 35 Yards per kickoff and he gave the Terps some good field position during the game. Another Perfect game from Chad Ryland as well, and Punting was iffy. In warmups, Brendan Segovia stood out to me, although he won't get much playing time this year, he should be an Interegal piece in the coming years.
The first Big Ten game of the season and it is a BIG one. Big noon kickoff from the Big house and a huge test for Maryland. Michigan was a CFP team last year and while they got blown out and lost a ton of talent from their defense, there is a lot to be excited for in Ann Arbor. This is also, In my opinion, a good opportunity for Maryland to punch Michigan in the mouth and get the attention of everybody. Michigan has not yet been challenged in the slightest, by playing the 3 WORST teams in FBS, and I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say they are the 1-2-3 worst. A bit of Quarterback controversy in the offseason has been put to rest with JJ McCarthy winning the battle and Cade McNamara being hurt. JJ is impressive on the ground, but Michigan doesn't push the ball down the field much. They live on screens and getting their WRs out in open space. They also love TEs and Blake Corum, So Maryland needs to be prepared for a lot of motion and weird sets. Defensively, they are super athletic and Blitz a lot, I would expect some intricate looks from both sides of the ball and a rocking atmosphere could prove bad news for our Offense with False starts. Maryland HAS to play discipline or this will end 49-10 quickly. Michigan has the biggest stadium and I expect it to be filled and LOUD. Maryland has a chance, but they need to catch Michigan off-guard if they want a chance. The Terps should be relatively healthy with only Rueben Hyppolites status a question(for now). Michigan last week missed Back-up RB Donovan Edwards, Starting LT Karsen Barnhardt, and LB Nikhai Hill-Green who looks to come back to play his first game of the season. There could be others but Harbaugh, like most coaches, is secretive about injuries. There could be some surprise this Saturday from Michigan, due to the Non-Conference schedule. My prediction is a 49-38 Loss but Maryland keeps it closer than the scoreboard reads.