Michigan: Five things we learned vs. Maryland
Five takeaways from Angelique S. Chengelis of The Detroit News following Michigan's 42-21 win against Maryland on Saturday.
Mason has hops
Fullback Ben Mason has more than just his cool Mohawk. He has become an immovable force for the Wolverines who can also show some great moves, including hurdling a defender as he did against Maryland. Mason scored on a one-yard run by smashing through a linebacker, but it was his hurdle that stunned people. “Now that was ridiculous,” quarterback Shea Patterson said. “We came out of a boot and dropped it to him. I didn’t know he was that athletic. I knew he could run people over, but that hurdle was definitely impressive.” How Michigan has been using Mason in the backfield has given more opportunities for fullback Jared Wangler, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said after the Maryland game. Wangler caught a seven-yard touchdown pass from Patterson.
Big target Gentry
Not surprisingly, 6-foot-8 tight end Zach Gentry has become a favorite target of Patterson. Gentry doesn’t have the touchdowns to show for his work, but he’s been a go-to option repeatedly. Against the Terps he had seven receptions for 112 yards and Gentry now leads all Michigan receivers with 306 yards on 20 catches. He has one touchdown. Donovan Peoples-Jones leads all receivers with five touchdowns.
Patterson taking over
Patterson had his most productive game at Michigan with 282 yards passing and had another three-touchdown game. He continues to show his ability to extend plays and avoid the rush, and he also his getting plenty of players involved. He threw passes to nine players Saturday, including two tight ends, two fullbacks, four receivers and a running back. He is seeing the field well and now faces the Wolverines’ biggest test of the season since the season opener at Notre Dame on Saturday against Wisconsin in the comfort of Michigan Stadium.
Defense getting it done
Through three quarters, Michigan’s defense held Maryland without an offensive score — the Terps’ first-quarter TD came off a kickoff return for a touchdown. Maryland had 29 plays for 87 yards through three quarters and was 2-of-8 on third down. Michigan linebacker Devin Bush was disappointed the Wolverines failed to hold the Terps to under 100 yards, but there was a letup in the fourth quarter and Maryland converted 3-of-5 on third down, and had 14 rushes for 101 yards. Maryland finished with 220 yards. Harbaugh described this as an “epic” defensive performance. That’s a bit of a stretch but then again, the defensive line had thinned because of injuries. Still, the Wolverines can’t afford any letup defensively late in these upcoming games.
Sorting through injuries
Starting defensive end Rashan Gary has been playing through an AC joint issue in his right shoulder and Harbaugh decided to hold him out of the Maryland game. Probably a smart move considering the upcoming games beginning with Wisconsin on Saturday. Michael Dwumfour was carted off the field and Carlo Kemp limped off late in the Maryland game. Aubrey Solomon apparently has been practicing, but it’s unclear when he might be back. The defensive line is getting thinner and getting those players back healthy has to be a big focus heading into this tough stretch. Running back Chris Evans warmed up but wasn’t in uniform for the game. That probably was a scratch to give him another game off to get healthier.