Observations on the loss to Maryland, 16-23
Maryland converted 4 red zones for 20 points; Michigan converted 4 red zones fore 16 points, and that was the big difference today. The Terrapins also converted 3 points off one Wolverine turnover.
Devin Gardner completed 13 of 24 for 106 yards, and ran 14 times for 82 yards and a TD. As usual, the passing game was atrocious; our wideouts have only accounted for 6 TDs in 11 games with the tight ends chipping in with two more for a total of 8. Devin Funchess had 5 catches for 30 yards, but lots of drops and no big plays. Amarah Darboh had two catches for 29 yards including a 23 yarder. Jake Butt caught 4 passes for 28 yards. Our running game was decent until they hit the red zone. Drake Johnson gained 94 yards on 14 carries, Justice Hayes gained 36 yards on 6 carries, DeVeon Smith gained 28 yards on 10 carries, but the biggest gain came by Fullback Joe Kerridge with a 52 yard romp on a fake punt. The Wolverines gained 398 yards, 292 on the ground with 23 first downs, but were only 6 of 16 on 3rd and 4th down conversions. We dominated the time of possession by 9 minutes resulting in 10 more offensive plays, but lost our edge with the turnover and lack of red zone execution with poor play calls by Nussmeier. We only had 3 "big" plays, the 52 yard scamper on the fake punt, Gardner running for 24 yards, and the pass to Darboh for 23 yards. The story of the game offensively was we couldn't convert in the red zone, and turned the ball over. Maryland let us run between the 20s, but shut us down in the red zone; they also didn't allow the big play. I've seen many weak Michigan offenses through the decades (60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 2000s and this decade), but this group easily is the worst.
Defense was led by Joe Bolden and Jake Ryan with 14 tackles each. Maryland gained 312 net yards with 17 first downs, and were 3 of 12 in 3rd down conversions. C.J. Brown was 13 of 24 for 165 yards, and ran for 87 yards on 18 carries for the game winning TD. The former native of Troy, MI finally got the Wolverine attention he didn't get as a high school recruit.
Special Teams also made a difference in this game. A.J. Pearson's block in the back penalty on Norfleet's punt return TD cost the team a 14 point lead in the 3rd quarter which should have been enough at that time to give us a win. Matt Wile's missed field goal with 9:13 to go in the game ended our control of the game in the second half, and opened the door for the Terrapins final game winning drive. Jourdan Lewis' roughing the kicker penalty changed what looked like a 16-19 game into a 16-23 game in the 4th quarter with 5:59 to play.
It is too bad that the seniors had to go out with a loss in a winable game, but better that the season ends with the two losses at 5-7 so Hoke can be replaced in early December. While it seems doubtful we'll get Jim Harbaugh who is under contract to coach San Francisco through December 28 and the playoffs in January, we must get a high quality coach who is capable of bringing the program back to where it should and deserves to be. It is better to make a great hire than to make a hasty decision; otherwise, we may face another 7 years of misery watching this program deteriorate with its last Big Ten Championship in 2003 (11 seasons ago). This is the longest period in Wolverine Football history without a Big Ten Title since the drought between 1950-1964, and when Michigan left and returned to the Western Conference, 1906-1918.
Observations on the first half with Maryland
Press Conference for Maryland Brady Hoke on November 19
Brady Hoke Press Conference on November 12