In front of a homecoming crowd that featured primarily visiting fans by the end of the afternoon, Maryland football fell 38-7 to No. 14 Michigan in College Park Nov. 2. It’s the Terps’ fourth straight loss, and their sixth in seven games.
The Terps fell behind early, allowing a touchdown on the opening kickoff. They had chances to get back into the game during the first half, but failed to capitalize and could only watch as Michigan pulled away. Jim Harbaugh’s Wolverines led 21-0 at halftime and 35-0 in the third quarter. Maryland running back Javon Leake’s 97-yard kick return touchdown in the third quarter was the lone bright spot.
Josh Jackson returned to his role as Maryland’s starting quarterback after missing two games and seeing limited action last weekend. He struggled against a stout Wolverines defense, completing 9 of 20 passes for just 97 yards with an interception. True freshman Lance LeGendre (pronounced “Luh-ZHON”) led a promising final drive in relief, and Maryland rushed for 160 sack-adjusted yards, but the offense didn’t put any points on the board.
Michael Locksley praised his team’s effort after the game -- “I think we can build with that type of fight,” he said -- but the first-year head coach knows there aren’t moral victories in this sport. Here’s what stood out from the latest blowout loss.
1. Crucial mistakes cost the Terps’ offense.
Maryland actually outgained Michigan through the first quarter and into the second. While the Terps weren’t explosive, they led 7-6 in first downs and held the ball for 18:53 in the opening half. They even drove into the red zone on consecutive possessions, giving themselves multiple chances to cut into an early deficit. But, they emphatically blew both chances.
The first opportunity came late in the first quarter. Maryland had marched 63 yards down the field, almost exclusively on the ground. But on third-and-7 from the Michigan 12, Jackson had to pass. The entire offensive line seemed to whiff on its blocks, and the Wolverines hit Jackson as he tried to throw. The ball floated into the air and Michigan safety Josh Metellus
came down with it
, making all the progress for naught.
Maryland’s next drive followed a similar formula. The Terps started at their 37 and drove all the way down to Michigan’s 8. After a negative rush and a third-down sack, though, they had to settle for a 37-yard field goal attempt. And Joseph Petrino fanned his kick to the right, keeping the Terps scoreless.
“We’ve just got to execute and finish those drives,” Leake said. “Those are important drives, key drives, especially against a team like Michigan. So we’ve just got to finish.”
The offense didn’t cross midfield in the third quarter. Maryland moved the ball better in the fourth, but it was too little, too late.
2. Lance LeGendre, not Tyrrell Pigrome, made brief cameos at quarterback.
Even when Jackson was Maryland’s regular starter, fellow redshirt junior Pigrome would enter the game for a particular series, giving defenses a different look. With Pigrome suffering a knee injury against Minnesota, though, that role fell to LeGendre, a true freshman who hadn’t seen game action since the season opener against Howard.
“We had that plan going into the game, obviously with Piggy’s health -- he was available, but we went into this game thinking Lance gave us some things to help us move the ball,” Locksley said.
LeGendre appeared on consecutive drives in the first half, then returned on the final drive, leading Maryland 51 yards in nine plays. The Terps let the clock run out with the ball on Michigan’s 7, though, and LeGendre didn’t get the chance to lead his team to a touchdown for the first time. He finished 1-of-2 passing with a seven-yard completion and ran for 39 yards (second on the team behind Anthony McFarland) on seven attempts.
NCAA redshirt rules allow players to make four appearances without losing a year of eligibility. LeGendre is one of 17 true freshman to play at least once for Maryland this season, and he can appear in two of the final three games and keep his redshirt. Expect to see more of him down the stretch.
3. Michigan’s offense settled into a rhythm.
In the first half, the Wolverines was inconsistent but took advantage of some short fields. Michigan’s first touchdown drive traversed just 41 yards in 11 plays. The visitors followed with two three-and-outs and were lined up to punt on their own 27 with 2:33 remaining in the first half. Head coach Jim Harbaugh called a fake, and Michigan got 14 yards when it needed one. On the Wolverines’ next play, Shea Patterson found Nico Collins for a 51-yard gain. Zach Charbonnet found the end zone from eight yards out two plays later, making it 21-0.
Michigan rushed for just 47 yards on 14 attempts in the first half, but found another gear on the ground after the break. The Wolverines amassed 96 rushing yards in the third quarter alone, and two lengthy touchdown drives made it 35-0 late in the frame.
Maryland failed to force a turnover in this game, snapping a streak of 20 straight contests that had become the longest in the nation.
4. Special teams remained inconsistent.
These woes started on the opening kickoff. Maryland won the coin toss and deferred to the second half, giving Michigan first possession. Giles Jackson made the offense unnecessary, though, breezing past flailing Terps on his 97-yard journey to the end zone. Per The Athletic’s Patrick Stevens, it’s the first time Maryland has allowed a touchdown on the opening kickoff since 1987.
The second quarter included Petrino’s missed field goal and Michigan’s successful fake punt. Maryland’s duo of freshman punters averaged just 34.9 yards on eight attempts, pinning the Wolverines inside their 20 just once.
However, Leake lifted the special teams unit late in the third quarter, matching Jackson with a 97-yard kick return score of his own. It’s Leake’s second such touchdown this season and the third of his career, tying Torrey Smith’s school record.
5. At least the uniforms were good.
These throwbacks were announced in August, but were finally on display in person. The
“Terps” in script lettering
pays homage to the Maryland teams of the 1980s.
“That’s what homecoming is about -- to show respect to those guys and those teams -- so obviously that was pretty cool. The jerseys looked really good,” Jackson said. “But none of that, once you’re in the game, really matters. It’s all about focusing on trying to win a game.”
And Maryland, once again, didn’t come close.