Team 137’s Week 10 Preview: Durkin Brings Maryland to Town

DJ Durkin returns to the big house, but this time on the opposite sideline. He may know a thing or two about Harbaugh and his coaching style, but you can be sure Harbaugh doesn’t care one bit. The Wolverines have moved on to a new defensive coordinator in Don Brown and showcase a unit who might even be considered better than Durkin’s defense, which ranked as high as 4th in the country.

Rushing Offense against Maryland

The Maryland run defense has pretty much been non-existent the last few weeks. Not only did they give up over 400 yards rushing to Indiana last week, but they have also given up over 1,200 in the last four weeks. Michigan hasn’t given up 1,200 all season! Indiana had three rushers go for more than 100 yards in the contest.

These struggles will not be something Durkin tolerates as his tenure continues at Maryland. When he’s able to get some of his own recruits in, the program should stabilize and become a tough team to run against moving forward.

Will we see another back get a touch or two this weekend? Fullback Henry Poggi (a converted defensive lineman) is from Maryland and would love to stick one in the endzone in front of some of his family and friends. Knowing Harbaugh, the “Poggi smash” is already in the playbook for Saturday.

It only took De’Veon Smith six games to wrestle the team rushing lead away from Chris Evans, but if I’m a betting man, I’d put money on Evans breaking a big play this weekend against a weak Maryland front seven. Smith may not want to get too comfortable with that team lead. Smith has racked up 474 yards while Khalid Hill has the edge in touchdowns with eight.

  • Advantage: Michigan

Durkin may be a defensive guy, but he inherited a mess. Expect big time numbers from the Wolverines on the ground and multiple backs to contribute.

Passing Offense against Maryland

The Terrapin pass defense is ranked within the top 20 in the country but they did lose a key piece in recent weeks. Cornerback Will Likely was their best player, who is now done for the season with a torn ACL.

Here’s the question: Is the Terrapin pass defense good because teams run so well against them that they don’t need to pass as often? The Wolverines would be so lucky but the truth is, Maryland’s defensive backfield is littered with above average athletes. Even with the loss of Likely, Maryland still fields exceptional players. University of Florida transfer JC Jackson and senior Alvin Hill have the experience and speed to keep up with Wolverine wide outs.

Michigan will likely spend the majority of its afternoon imposing their will through the ground game, but Wilton Speight will get his chance to throw the ball some as well. Big plays may not be the norm during this battle but the underneath routes should be a thing of beauty.

  • Advantage: Michigan

The tight ends should have a field day with this Maryland defense. Harbaugh, Fisch and Drevno will have some wrinkles ready for their old buddy Durkin in this matchup.

Rushing Defense against Maryland

The Maryland offense also has some speed. Running backs Ty Johnson and Lorenzo Harrison make up a very formidable tandem in the backfield. Both players, if given the space, can hurt their opponents with big play ability. Johnson has seven plays of 40 yards or more. Harrison is a true freshman that has topped 500 yards and has five touchdowns through eight games.

Michigan has been susceptible to big plays in the past, though they can usually tighten things up afterward. Speed is the great equalizer in any contest, and Maryland can hurt Michigan if they don’t play assignment football.

The Wolverines also missed a slew of tackles last week against MSU. Coaches addressed the problem this week in practice and things will be different this Saturday. One thing Harbaugh-coached teams don’t do is make the same mistakes multiple weeks in a row. Once it’s addressed, it’s unlikely to happen again.

  • Advantage: Michigan

Maryland does have some talent, but they can be contained if played properly. Johnson has been held under 40 yards in three different games and Michigan is capable of completing something similar to that feat.

Passing Defense against Maryland

The Terps have been sacked a B1G high 24 times this season, good for last in the league. They have also given up 53 tackles for loss, which is Michigan’s specialty.

This may be one of the most impressive games the Wolverine defense plays all year. Don Brown knows that Terps can’t keep his guys out the backfield, so it will be a long afternoon of blitzing from the very start.

Maryland quarterback Perry Hills leads the B1G in completion percentage at 66% and has thrown for 10 touchdowns. Hills didn’t play last year against Michigan due to an ACL tear but he his back and won the job out of camp.  

  • Advantage: Michigan

Hills has enjoyed a 66% completion percentage but he’ll be lucky to complete 50% with the pressure he will be seeing early and often from Michigan. Interceptions and incomplete passes will be synonymous with Hills’ name on Saturday.

Prediction: Michigan 38 – Maryland 7

Michigan could get beaten on a big play at some point or another but Maryland doesn’t have enough juice to come into the Big House and walk away with a win. Durkin needs a few more years before they become a legit contender.

Photo Credit: CSNmidatlantic