Offense notes: Michigan sputters, suffers injuries in win over Maryland

clayton-sayfieby:Clayton Sayfie11/18/23

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Sherrone Moore Press Conference: Michigan Football 1,000th Win, 31-24 Over Maryland #GoBlue

Michigan Wolverines football was without starting left tackle LaDarius Henderson, and saw his replacement, Myles Hinton, leave the game in the second half with a knee injury. Junior quarterback J.J. McCarthy was moving around gingerly and appeared to be slowed with a leg injury himself. Senior wideout Roman Wilson left the game after taking a hit to the head and only returned to the sideline in street clothes, ruled out by the training staff.

Acting head coach, offensive coordinator and line coach Sherrone Moore said Henderson should be back next week, Hinton has no structural damage to his knee and McCarthy is fine (he claimed he did not know Wilson’s status beyond being ruled out). But it was tough to get out of College Park with a 31-24 win given all of those circumstances, and an overall lack of execution.

The Wolverines weren’t in much of a rhythm from the get-go. They started each half with a three-and-out and had two others for a total of four. Three touchdowns on drives of 65, 64 and 51 yards, along with points scored by the defense (nine on a touchdown and a safety) and special teams (two on a safety) were crucial in the victory.

“Maybe we needed this test a little bit,” said senior running back Blake Corum, a Burke, Va., native who punched in 2 touchdowns at the goal line in his return to the DMV. “Maybe we needed a close game like this. Not saying Penn State [wasn’t] close, but they gave us a run for our money out there. And guys like this, [graduate defensive back] Mike [Sainristil], two picks, stepping up big, especially when the offense wasn’t doing as good as we wanted to today, I think we needed something like this going into the next game. It was huge for us.”

Michigan racked up just 291 yards of total offense, under 300 for the second straight week (287 in a 24-15 win over Penn State Nov. 11). The unit averaged a season-low 4.3 yards per play — 3.3 on 45 rushes and 6.1 on 23 passes.

In the second half, the Wolverines had numerous opportunities to extend their lead but punted four times. They went 4-of-9 on third-downs after halftime, having trouble staying on the field. For the game, Michigan was 2-of-6 on third downs with 4 yards or less to go, when they’re typically more efficient in those situations.

Corum chalked some of the issues up to the Maryland defense putting together a good plan and executing.

“No excuses at all,” the Michigan back said, acknowledging that injuries occurred. “I think first half, we did our thing. Coming out second half, it seemed to me they went into the locker room and had a good game plan for us, in the pass game and in the run game. Kudos to them. I think it was just a good game played by Maryland, and we definitely have to go back to the drawing board and fix some things — and play better.

“We just need to play better — bottom line. No excuses. It is what it is now. We came out, we got the win. The defense helped us, the special teams helped us, and we did our thing when we needed to. But we have to do better all around.”

Corum’s 2 rushing touchdowns brought his season total up to 20, tying the program’s record for the most in a single season (Hassan Haskins, 2021).

J.J. McCarthy hobbled, throws first pick since non-conference play

McCarthy limped off the field after one drive last week at Penn State, potentially the cause of some soreness or pain during this week’s game. He started and played the entire game, however, though he had just 1 non-sack rush attempt and clearly didn’t have all of his speed.

McCarthy completed just 12 of his 23 pass attempts for 141 yards and no touchdowns. He hasn’t thrown a touchdown since tossing 4 in a 49-0 win over Michigan State Oct. 21. The 6-3, 202-pounder attempted 5 third-down throws Saturday but the Wolverines picked moved the chains on just one of them.

One of the most crucial moments in the game came after Michigan successfully marched down to the Maryland 7-yard line on a two-minute drill just before halftime. McCarthy threw into two defenders on 1st and goal and could have been picked off, before throwing an interception right to Maryland linebacker Jaishawn Barham on second down.

“I thought he did a good job,” Moore stated of McCarthy’s performance. “He hasn’t thrown a pick since [throwing 3 in a 31-6 win over] Bowling Green [Sept. 16]. Everybody is hard on him, but he’s played almost perfect to this point, not throwing a pick.

“Those things happen when you’re playing really good teams. Guy busted out in coverage, saw it. After that he has a chance for a TD on the last one to C.J. [graduate wideout Cornelius Johnson] Just got to continue to make plays, create things to get guys open. We’ll continue to do that.”

Moore has a lot on his plate, leading the team, calling the offensive plays and coaching the line. The collaborative approach has worked for the Michigan offensive staff when it comes to the quarterback and the rest of the operation, the coach said.

“I talk to [McCarthy], [quarterbacks coach] Kirk Campbell does a great job with him. We all bounce back ideas off each other, not just Kirk, but [tight ends coach] Grant [Newsome], [running backs coach] Mike [Hart], [wide receivers coach] Ron [Bellamy]. All of us together cohesively make decisions. It’s huge. We’ll continue to do that. Trust those guys with everything. They do an unbelievable job with their positions, and that gives me the freedom to coach the O-line and call the plays.”

Miscellaneous Michigan football offense notes

• Michigan is the first football team at any level to reach 1,000 all time wins.

• Michigan has only been held under 300 total yards in 16 games under head coach Jim Harbaugh — last week at Penn State, against Rutgers in 2021, Penn State and Wisconsin in 2020, Wisconsin and Iowa in 2019, Ohio State, South Carolina, Penn State and Wisconsin in 2017, Indiana, Florida State and Iowa in 2016, and Minnesota and Michigan State in 2015.

• Michigan is 23-1 with McCarthy as the starting quarterback. The Wolverines have won 95.8 percent of their games with him leading the offense. That stat lists above former Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence (34-2; 94.4), former Alabama signal-caller Tua Tagovailoa (22-2, 91.7) and former TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin (22-2, 91.7).

• Freshman wideout Semaj Morgan scored on a 13-yard end-around with 4:04 left in the third quarter. That marked the second rushing touchdown and fourth overall score of his career. He’s added 2 receiving.

• McCarthy passed Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh on the program’s all-time passing yards list, with 5,570 coming out of this game. Harbaugh had 5,449 yards during his time as a player with the Wolverines. McCarthy stands eighth in the record book.

• Rushing for 94 yards on Saturday, Corum (3,380 yards) is now eighth on U-M’s all-time rushing list, passing Rob Lytle (3,317 yards). He could tie Chris Perry for seventh all-time if he reaches 3,696 yards rushing.

• With two rushing scores today, Corum is at 51 for his career, good for second rank all-time at Michigan. Only Anthony Thomas (55) has more.

• Sophomore tight end Colston Loveland had 2 receptions for fourth-down conversions.

• The Wolverines are now 11-1 all time against Maryland, winning the last eight matchups.

• The Wolverines have been victorious in 23 straight Big Ten games dating to 2021, the longest streak in program history and the third-longest in Big Ten history.

• Michigan has been victorious in 27 consecutive regular-season games, the third-longest stretch in Big Ten history. Only the 1901-03 Michigan teams, which won 28 straight regular season games, have won more in program history.

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