Note: A version of this Michigan Wolverines opponent preview appears in The Wolverine’s Michigan Football Preview magazine, which can be purchased by clicking HERE.
Maryland Terrapins Quick Facts
All-Time Series: Michigan leads 8-1
First Meeting: U-M 20, Maryland 0 (Sept. 28, 1985 at Ann Arbor)
Last Meeting: U-M 38, Maryland 7 (Nov. 2, 2019 at College Park, Md.)
Head Coach: Michael Locksley, 6-17 (3rd full year) at Maryland and 8-43 overall (5th full year)
2020 In Review: 2-3 overall, 2-3 Big Ten (4th East)
Final 2020 Ranking: Unranked
Returning Starters: 16 (8 offense, 6 defense, 2 specialists)
Last Bowl Appearance: 2016 (Quick Lane Bowl vs. Boston College, L 36-30)
Maryland Terrapins Returning Leaders
Passing: Taulia Tagovailoa (1,011 yards, 7 TD)
Rushing: Tony Jones Jr. Penny Boone (85 yards, 0 TD)
Receiving: Dontay Demus Jr. (365 yards, 4 TD)
Tackles: Jordan Mosley (41)
Sacks: Mosiah Nasili-Kite (4)
Interceptions: Nick Cross and Kenny Bennett (1)
Players To Watch
Offense: Taulia Tagovailoa, So., QB — The Alabama transfer was handed an honorable mention All-Big Ten nod last season … He completed 75 of 122 pass attempts for the season, and ranked first in the conference in yards per completion (13.5).
Defense: Jordan Mosley, 5th-Sr., S — The 6-1, 210-pounder led Maryland with 24 solo tackles last season, including a career-high 11 stops in a win over Minnesota.
Maryland Terrapins Preview
Maryland had a strong start once again last season, winning its first two games, including triumphs over Minnesota and on the road at Penn State, the program’s first victory over the Nittany Lions since 2014. But just like in 2019 — a season in which the Terrapins won their first two before finishing on a rough note — the momentum fizzled out.
It didn’t help that Maryland was starting and stopping all year long — four different games were canceled due to COVID-19 concerns. One positive is that the Terrapins’ primary players gained some needed experience heading into 2021, when 85 percent of their production returns (10th-most in college football, according to ESPN).
That all starts at the quarterback spot with sophomore Taulia Tagovailoa, who was hit or miss in 2020. In losses to Northwestern and Indiana combined, he threw six picks and completed only 50.8 percent of his passes. But he exploded for major statistics in wins over Minnesota and Penn State, completing 72.1 percent of his passes for 676 yards with six touchdowns in those two triumphs.
It was impressive that Tagovailoa ranked third in the Big Ten in passing yards per game, but finding consistency will be key in his second year as the starter and first working with new coordinator Dan Enos.
Meanwhile, developing a run game will be important for the offense as a whole. Running back Jake Funk, who has moved on from Maryland, rushed for 516 yards on 60 carries (8.6 yards per attempt) and scored three of the team’s five rushing touchdowns in 2020.
Freshman Peny Boone is the leading returning rusher with 86 yards, but it’s senior Taylor Fleet-Davis who is expected to start. He has been a career backup, but appears to be ready to break out after missing most of last season due to “off-the-field reasons.” He has accumulated 615 yards and seven touchdowns, while averaging 4.2 yards per carry, during his four years in College Park.
Wide receiver is the position the Terrapins feel the best about, with the team’s top five receivers set to return. Senior wide receiver Dontay Demus Jr., the best of the bunch, has 10 career touchdowns and averaged 15.0 yards per catch last season, while hauling in four scoring grabs and racking up 365 receiving yards.
Though the offense could’ve been better and more consistent a year ago, the defense was truly the downfall. The Terrapins ranked 80th nationally in scoring defense, giving up 32.0 points per game, and 85th in total defense, yielding a whopping 430.0 yards per contest.
However, it wasn’t all bad. Maryland’s passing defense was top-tier, ranking third in the Big Ten and 25th in the country in yards allowed per contest through the air (200.0). And the good news is that most of the talent in the secondary remains in place.
A strong duo of safeties headlines the defense, with junior Jordan Mosley and sophomore Nick Cross both having posted stellar numbers in 2020. Mosley was second on the team in tackles with 43, while adding 2.5 tackles for loss and one sack, and Cross ranked third in tackles with 23, while registering one sack, one interception and three passes broken up.
Freshman cornerback Tarheeb Still paced Maryland in passes broken up last season with eight, and led the nation with two passes broken up per game. He was named a Freshman All-American by The Athletic.
Linebacker Chance Campbell — the squad’s leading tackler in 2020 — transferred to Ole Miss this offseason, leaving a big hole in the middle of a defense that slotted 13th in the Big Ten and 115th in the country in rushing yards allowed per tilt last season (230.0).
However, the Terrapins have experience on the defensive line, with three starters returning. Fifth-year senior end Sam Okuayinonu made 17 tackles and 1.5 stops for loss last year, while junior tackle Ami Finau, who registered 18 tackles, was tied with redshirt sophomore linebacker Durrell Nchani for third on the team with three tackles for loss.
Michigan at Maryland (Nov. 20) — The Wolverine’s Take
• Michigan is an early 6.5-point favorite over Maryland in College Park, which is likely the closest a Michigan-Maryland spread has been since the Terrapins joined the Big Ten in 2014. It looks like, at least right now, Maryland is trending in the direction of being a team capable of finishing in the middle of the pack in the Big Ten East on a regular basis, rather than its usual spot of second to last. Michigan, on the other hand, is coming off a disastrous 2020 campaign and looking to rebuild a bit.
• Sandwiched in between a game at Penn State and the regular-season finale against Ohio State, this could be labeled as a ‘trap game.’ Michigan better be fully focused for this one, as well, to avoid what would likely be considered an upset.
• Tagovailoa is an interesting player, and surely one to watch this fall. As noted in the preview above, he was stellar in some games but struggled mightily in others — and he’s turnover prone. Michigan’s defense has some top-end talent and a new scheme — at least right now, it looks like it’ll be much better than last year. Is Tagovailoa and this offense only equipped to beat the less than stellar defenses, or can he take down a solid one like the Wolverines are expected to have? He has a lot of time to prove himself before Nov. 20, but there are still a ton of question marks.
Maryland Terrapins 2021 Football Schedule
Sept. 4 — West Virginia
Sept. 11 — Howard
Sept. 17 — at Illinois
Sept. 25 — Kent State
Oct. 1 — Iowa
Oct. 9 — at Ohio State
Oct. 23 — at Minnesota
Oct. 30 — Indiana
Nov. 6 — Penn State
Nov. 13 — at Michigan State
Nov. 20 — Michigan
Nov. 27 — at Rutgers
More Michigan Football Opponent Previews
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