Sam Webb: Michigan can’t be looking at any games as “gimmes” these days… and that’s even without a couple of star receivers like Maryland. Give us an idea of what Maryland will be without likely Stefon Diggs and Juwann Winfree.
Steve Clarke: “Juwann Winfree, who had a fairly good game against Michigan State last week, is suspended and Stefon Diggs with the lacerated kidney is likely to be out as well. Maryland is 6-4, 3-3 in conference play. The winner of this game will actually have sole position of third place in the division if you can believe that. Maryland is not really a Jekyll and Hide team on the road. They’re actually 6-1 over the last couple of seasons, losing only to Wisconsin in a blow out. Maryland is a tough team to figure out and offensively, they’re also a team that is starting to get worse as the season goes on. Statistically they are in the lower third of the Big Ten in offensive output as well as defensive output and yet somehow they seem to be the better all-around football team getting things done on the team than Michigan does at this point. The Terrapins are giving up more than 100 yards of rushing than the Wolverines do. That’s a part of it. The biggest part of their criticism is guess what – it is their quarterback C.J. Brown. This is a quarterback who is a sixth year senior. He has got over 5000 yards passing yet, but is very close. When you watch that Michigan State game as I did last week, you will see that CJ Brown just loves rolling out of the pocket and if somebody is open he’ll throw it to them on the run and if there is nobody open, he’ll take off and run. What we’ve seen over the last four to five weeks for CJ Brown is that he’s throwing on the run, he’s not very accurate. He’s missing guys short. He’s throwing over the guys head and he’s not being helped at all by receivers who are dropping it. It is the old Jim McKay line, coach of the Tampa Bay Bucs, ‘well we lost today because we didn’t block, but we made up for it by not tackling’. That’s sort of what Maryland is kind of going through. They have a lot of depth at receiver despite the losses of two guys there, but they’re making things more difficult on CJ Brown and the rest of the offense by not hanging on to the balls that are thrown right to the numbers. The offensive line, they give up sacks and they’re rushing game…I wouldn’t say it’s nonexistent, but their leading rusher is CJ Brown. The roll out quarterback is leading the team in rushing. Offensively, they’re starting to get worse and worse and worse each week.”
“Defensively, I thought they had a fairly good game against Michigan State. They were playing a classic bend but don’t break in the first half where Michigan State was able to roll up the yards between the 20s, but once they got settled in the red zone, Maryland’s defense came to play and was holding Michigan State to field goals.”
Sam Webb: I believe that game was 16-7 in the third quarter, was it not?
Steve Clarke: “Right. You got a touchdown that was set up on a short field for Michigan State to get their score and then it was field goals the rest of the way. Michigan State was moving up and down but once they got in position to get seven, Maryland decided to play some defense. Time goes by and eventually, the *** and I guess some agree eventually kind of caved in on the fourth quarter and Jeremy Langford was able to get some things going and Connor Cook made a couple of things happen. There was a touchdown returned by Curtis Drummond as well. I think they had three or four picks in that game too, Maryland did. There is a lot of heat on CJ Brown right now and about whether they should get the third string quarterback in there because the second string is out for the year.”
Sam Webb: Michigan is favored in this game. Do you think that is legit?
Steve Clarke: “Yeah because they’re at home. Michigan is a different team at home than they are on the road. Maryland is sort of hard to figure out, but the one thing is that they are trending downward. This is a team that won on the road a couple of weeks ago, won in Happy Valley. Let’s not think that Maryland is a slouching team that is ready to fold in their tent. I don’t think that is the case at all. Again, watching the Michigan State game, they looked hungry, looked like they wanted to play some ball. They just weren’t able to execute. In a lot of ways that’s Michigan right now. Michigan is very hungry just not always able to execute in all phases of the game. It stands to say that when you’re leading player, the first player mentioned at the top of their weekly press release is their kicker, that’s usually not a good sign (laughter). Here we had the highlight at the top of the page, Brad Craddock. He hasn’t missed a field goal all season. He is 9/9 outside of 40 yards. Those are all very good statistics and if it comes down to a field goal game or it comes down to overtime, you’ve got to like the ability of Craddock’s kicking game. I’m not saying (Matt) Wile is a slouch, he’s doing fairly well, but Brad Craddock hasn’t missed. So that could play into something later on. Another thing is that Stefon Diggs was also on kick and punt returns. He’s going to be missed there, but Will Likely cornerback who’s got a couple of touchdowns off interceptions already for Maryland this year, looks like a guy who can be able to get a lot of yards. He showed that during the Michigan State film as well. He has maybe a little bit of problem with ball security, so we’ll see if that turns out into anything this Saturday.”