College Park, Md. -- It was a tale of two halves for Michigan in Saturday's affair against Maryland.
While it didn't get off to the start it wanted to in the first half, the Wolverines (4-1) took over in the second half to trounce the Terrapins (2-3) 28-0. It was the first back-to-back shutout performance by U-M since 2000.
The sloppy play in the first half appeared to carry over in the second with U-M quarterback Jake Rudock throwing an interception that was bobbled by fullback Sione Houma. However, the U-M defense stood tall all day and came back with an impressive juggling interception by cornerback Jourdan Lewis. The pick by Lewis was the defense's third of the game, all thrown by Maryland's Caleb Rowe.
Rowe would later be replaced by Daxx Garman.
"The thing I was focused on during the first quarter was that both offense were making mistakes," U-M head coach Jim Harbaugh said. "Penalties, errors, turnovers. From a coaching perspective, offensiveling we were just trying to get our team playing better fundamental technique, assignment football. I really felt early on in the game that the offense could do that in htis game was to have the best chance of winning."
U-M's offense responded with a 31 yard touchdown on a screen pass to Drake Johnson to make the score 12-0. Rudock would complete a short pass to tight end Khalid Hill to complete the two-point conversation to stretch its lead to 14.
It took only one play on U-M's very next drive to strike again. A 66-yard sweep to wide reiver Jehu Chesson allowed him to streak down the sidelines for an easy score to allow the Wolverines to pull away 21-0.
The Wolverines would strike again late in the fourth quarter courtesy of a one-yard touchdown by Johnson to stretch the lead to 28.
Despite the absence of De'Veon Smith and Ty Isaac's two fumbles, Johnson was able to answer the call for the running backs. Finishing the day with 103 total yards and two touchdowns. Chesson was U-M's leading rusher with 66 yards.
"During hte first half of the game there were a lot of adjustments we made," Johnson said. "We saw how they were playing the defense and they were a little different from what we had scouted. So we went into the locker room, made the proper adjustments and we were able to perform a lot better than we did in the first half."
Rudock, despite a lost fumble and an interception thrown, finished the day with 180 yards and one touchdown. Back-up quarterback Wilton Speight played in the final minutes of the game.
The U-M defense once again dominated the game not only forcing turnovers but rendering the Maryland offense useless. The Terrapins were only able to gain 105 total yards in the game and finished with 29 rushing yards total.
With a parade of punts, penalties and fumbles - which inlcuded one a piece by quarterback Jake Rudock and Isaac - the U-M defense once again stood tall in the absence of the offense, saying the first half of the game was sloppy would be an understatement.
Cornerback Jeremy Clark came up big once again in the first half by jumping the route of a Caleb Rowe pass to secure his third interception of the season. Linebacker Desmond Morgan also got into the action as well by intercepting a tipped pass.
"I think our guys are starting to really get settled in," Morgan said. "Today was game five so everyone knows what their assignment is on each play adn we have this overall comfort with one another. Guys know where the other guys are going to be at on a play versus another formation where they're going to be somewhere else. I think as we get more comfortable with each other, the faster we'll play."
The Wolverines would take a 6-0 lead into half time after a pair of stalled drives concluded with 30 and 32 yard field goals by Kenny Allen.
U-M will play undefeated Northwester (5-0) at Michigan Stadium next Saturday with a 3:30 p.m. kickoff.