John Niyo and Matt Charboneau take a look at the Spartans (4-4) and they preview the Michigan-Maryland game. The Detroit News
Michigan at Maryland
► Kickoff: Noon Saturday, Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium, College Park, Md.
► TV/radio: ABC/950
► Records: No. 14 Michigan 6-2, 3-2; Maryland 3-5, 1-4
► Line: Michigan by 21
View from the other side
Emily Giambalvo covers Maryland athletics for the Washington Post. She breaks down the Terrapins for The Detroit News, answering five questions heading into Saturday’s Michigan vs. Maryland game at Michigan Stadium. You can follow her on Twitter at @EmilyGiam.
► Question: With the upset of then-No. 21 Syracuse in the second game, it looked like Mike Locksley had the Terps trending in the right direction. Since then, they’ve dropped five of the last six. Why has the program had such a nosedive?
► Giambalvo: I think it’s been the culmination of many factors. You’d expect Maryland to knock off Howard easily, but the Syracuse win came as a surprise and sparked a lot of confidence for fans. As the season has progressed, Syracuse hasn’t played that well, so that win keeps becoming less impressive. You combine that with starting quarterback Josh Jackson hurting his ankle in the fifth game, plus some other injuries at key positions, and the schedule has gradually gotten more difficult from the start. So I think the downswing is more a result of the makeup of the schedule and the opponents Maryland has faced, than on the team itself getting worse. If anything, it shows that this is still an inconsistent team under a first-year head coach, so the level of play has bounced around quite a bit.
► Question: Quarterback Josh Jackson is a local product, Saline High, and his father was a long-time assistant at Michigan. He was out with a high ankle sprain, but do you expect him to play and start? What has Jackson added to the offense?
► Giambalvo: We don’t know for sure. Locksley said Wednesday that Jackson "showed the focus and it's almost as if he's kind of re-engaged himself,” which seemed to be the missing piece as far as why he didn’t play much against Minnesota. Last week, Jackson didn’t start but played three snaps early on. Locksley didn’t feel like Jackson had the right confidence to keep going. Jackson said this week he feels back to himself health-wise. Backup quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome had to come out of the Minnesota game with a minor knee injury, but he was back practicing Wednesday. Locksley said it’ll be one of those two guys who starts against Michigan. If I had to guess, I’d say Jackson. But then again, Locksley said before the Minnesota game that Jackson was 100 percent and then he hardly played.
► Question: Minnesota ran all over Maryland last week, 321 yards and four rushing touchdowns, and Michigan ran all over Notre Dame with 303 yards and three rushing touchdowns. Will Michigan have that much room to run on Saturday?
► Giambalvo: Yikes, when you put those numbers next to each other like that, it definitely sounds like Michigan shouldn’t have an issue. I do think Michigan is going to be able to run the ball well. Maryland hasn’t done a great job at the line of scrimmage on either side of the ball. I envision this being a blowout win for Michigan, and I’d feel pretty confident they’ll be able to do that by wearing Maryland down quickly.
► Question: Maryland’s final four games are Michigan, at Ohio State, Nebraska and at Michigan State. How do you see this team getting through this month to end the regular season?
► Giambalvo: I think Maryland would be happy to get one win out of those four. It’s a rough November, just like last year. But Maryland didn’t do itself any favors in October. Early in the season, it seemed like October was when Maryland could make a push to become bowl-eligible as the team played Rutgers, Purdue, Indiana and Minnesota. Maryland only got one win (Rutgers) out of those four. Nebraska at home certainly seems like Maryland’s best shot in November.
► Question: The Mike Locksley-Josh Gattis soap opera was entertaining a few months ago. How much friction do you think there is between the two and does Locksley have something to prove to Gattis, who was co-offensive coordinator at Alabama last year when Locksley was OC, and is now Michigan's offensive coordinator?
► Giambalvo: I won’t claim to be an expert on anyone’s personal relationships, but Locksley did take the diplomatic approach this week. Asked whether there’d be a personal element to this game because of his history with Gattis, Locksley said, “None whatsoever. This game is about Michigan and Maryland. I've got my own issues that I'm dealing with as the head coach, and I'm sure he has his issues that he has to deal with as the coordinator there." As much as people might want to frame this game as the definitive answer that will end the summertime debate, I don’t think it’ll mean much in that regard. Locksley and Gattis have different roles and the two teams have much different talent levels. That said, the comments this summer were quite strong, so I personally wouldn’t be surprised if there’s some pride on the line here.
Players to watch
► Josh Jackson, QB: Maryland’s 6-foot-2, 218-pound quarterback played for Saline High and is the youngest son of longtime Michigan assistant Fred Jackson. He recently has been slowed by a high ankle sprain but had 10 touchdowns in his first eight games. Jackson threw for 245 yards and four touchdowns in his Maryland debut (after transferring from Virginia Tech) against Howard in the season opener, tying for the most ever in first game as Terp. At Virginia Tech, he threw for 2,991 yards and 20 touchdowns and ran for 324 yards and six touchdowns in 2017.
► Anthony McFarland, RB: The Terps’ running back and teammate Javon Leake are tied for 13th nationally with seven rushing touchdowns. The 5-8, 193-pound McFarland was second-team All-Big Ten last year (selected by media). He opened the season scoring two first-quarter touchdowns against Howard and had three touchdowns in the first half against then-No. 21 Syracuse -- two rushing and one receiving -- the most by a Terp in five years. He rushed for 132 yard and a score at Temple and scored twice against Rutgers, including the second-longest rush of his career, an 80-yarder.
► Antoine Brooks Jr., S: Maryland’s senior safety has 52 tackles, including 47 solo tackles this season, the most per game (5.9) in the Big Ten and 12th nationally. He has led the Terps in three of eight games, including a career-best 13 solo at Temple, and he also recorded his first career fumble recovery. Brooks was second-team All-Big Ten last year. He led the Terps with 9.5 tackles for loss and was third in tackles (68) in 2018.
Facts and figures
► Turn it over: Maryland has forced a turnover in 20 straight games, the longest current streak in the nation. Terps’ cornerback Marcus Lewis had an interception in the game against Minnesota last weekend. This season they have forced 12 turnovers and lost 11, with seven interceptions and five fumbles.
► Starts at home: Maryland has a 58-34-4 record in homecoming games The Terps have won each of the past three years on homecoming, defeating Purdue in 2016, Indiana in 2017 and Rutgers in 2018, and is 5-4 record this decade. Michigan will be the 28th different opponent Maryland will play on its homecoming.
► Big-play runs: The Terps have 12 rushes of 30 yards or more this season, tied for eighth-best nationally and second in the Big Ten. Five of those 12 have been for 50 yards or more, third most in the country. Maryland has scored on five of the big-play rushes, including three from Javon Leake.