It comes as no real surprise that the Terps faltered in College Park today, falling to Michigan by a final score of 28-0. The shutout continued a decade-long trend of Maryland teams not showing up for their annual “blackout” game, as they are now 1-10 all-time in those games since the tradition began in 2005. Another unfortunate trend also continued with the loss, as the Terps find themselves 0-11 against ranked teams since Randy Edsall took over as head coach.
While the loss comes as a relatively expected result based upon the team’s overall performance so far in 2015, the way Maryland is losing games has become shockingly alarming. Against the Wolverines, the Terps managed to accumulate a mere 105 total yards. The anemic offense led to 13 punts and a total of nine three-and-outs.
Starting quarterback Caleb Rowe was pulled in the third quarter after posting a horrific stat line: 8 of 27 passing, 47 yards, and three interceptions. Head coach Randy Edsall said earlier in the week that Rowe would be “on a short leash.” Apparently that leash ended up being a little longer than most expected.
The Terps put together a decent drive on their first series of the game, as they traveled 42 yards in seven plays before the offense stalled near midfield. The two teams went back and forth through the first half, as both defenses played well and prevented the opposing offense from gaining momentum or achieving any sort of rhythm. Of course, the weather played a factor in this as well.
While Rowe and Edsall will serve as the scapegoats for this embarrassing loss, the offense as a whole underperformed and were painfully inefficient. The Terps managed just 29 yards on 26 rushes for the game. Maryland receivers dropped several passes on the day, including a key one on the first drive of the game. Backup quarterback Daxx Garman (likely the new starting quarterback next week at Ohio State) competed only two of nine passes and looked more lost with every snap of the football.
Since defeating South Florida, the Terps have been outscored by 67 points in the last two games, throwing more interceptions (eight) than total points scored (six).
All things considered, the Maryland defense played rather admirably, and would have kept the Terps in the game if the team could have pieced together any sort of an offensive presence. Michigan quarterback Jake Rudock completed only half of his passes (16/30) for 180 yards, with one touchdown and one interception. The Terrapin defense, particularly the front seven, held Michigan’s potent running game in check as well, including forcing a couple of fumbles. Wolverine running back Drake Johnson finished with 13 carries for 68 yards with a score. Excluding a 66 yard touchdown run on an end-around by wide receiver Jehu Chesson, the Terps held the Michigan running game to 132 total yards on 39 carries, a respectable 3.38 yards/rush average.
The defense kept the Terps in the game in the first half, as Maryland trailed 6-0 heading into halftime. The six point hole felt more like 26, however, with the way the offense was playing. The Wolverines proceeded to complete the shutout with 22 unanswered points in the second half, while Maryland’s offense struggled immensely to get the ball beyond midfield.
This was a game Maryland could have won with an average offensive performance. The Terps could not take advantage of a Michigan team that was without leading rusher De’Veon Smith, who sustained an injury last week against BYU. The damp, windy weather also should have been to the Terps’ benefit, as such conditions typically lead to more conservative play calling, something the Terps usually do anyway. The defense showed up, but turnovers and general impotence at every offensive position doomed the Terps.
Maryland is 2-3 on the season and 0-1 in the Big Ten. Mentioning that things don’t get any easier for the Terps next week is an extreme understatement, as Maryland takes on defending national champion Ohio State in Columbus.