Maryland fans may remember new head coach D.J. Durkin for his defense's performance in Michigan's 28-0 victory over the Terps back on Oct. 3.
In the team's conference opener, the Wolverines absolutely shut down the Terrapins, limiting them to 105 yards. One-hunded-and-five yards. For the entire game. After a not-great start that saw the Terps finish the first quarter with 60 yards, Maryland didn't even equal that in the last three quarters combined.
The game was a perfect nightmare combination for the Terps. Michigan finished the regular season second in defensive S&P+ and ninth in defensive passing S&P+, while Maryland finished 109th(!!) out of the 128 FBS teams in offensive passing S&P+. The Terps couldn't pass at all, and Durkin used that to his advantage.
Michigan's defense relies heavily on its defensive backs. Durkin's not going to be able to do that at Maryland, at least not immediately, but his secondary sure did wonders against the Terps. After Maryland got a break on its second drive when a roughing the punter penalty gave the team a second chance, Caleb Rowe uncorked this interception:
This was one of three picks Rowe threw on the day. The interception-prone quarterback had problems against many defenses this season, so his performance against one of the best units in the nation wasn't exactly a surprise.
Michigan's defensive backs dialed up the pressure on Maryland's receviers, playing press coverage with limited help over the top, daring Rowe to beat them deep. Maryland's quarterback could not, and Michigan made it hard for him to convert on short throws, like this screen to Taivon Jacobs.
On this third down in the second quarter, Rowe threw his 10th incompletion of the day. Michigan disguised its rush, making it look like it was sending five men at Rowe, but both edge rushers dropped into shallow coverage, so only three men actually rushed the passer.
Here's what Rowe's options looked like when he threw the ball:
Not a single receiver is open, and Chris Wormley is about to take Rowe down if he holds onto the ball any longer.
The Terps' running game fared even worse. The team finished with 29 yards on the ground, good for its worst performance of the season. That's including 18-yard and 14-yard rushes by Brandon Ross. So Ross had 32 yards on two plays, and the Terps managed to total negative-3 yards on the rest of their 24 carries. Michigan set up camp in Maryland's backfield, finishing the game with 8 tackles for loss and 4 sacks. This run by Ross (slowed down to 75 percent speed) was fairly typical of Maryland's performance:
On this play, Michigan didn't bring any extra blitzers to stop the run, yet still got penetration into Maryland's backfield. Defensive tackle Maurice Hurst overpowered Maryland guard Andrew Zeller and brought Ross down mostly with one arm while linebacker Desmond Morgan was able to finish him off.
That's with Durkin did this year a defense full of top recruits that was pretty good before he got there. Maryland has a ways to go before it could approach the dominance that Durkin's unit had in his first season as the Wolverines' defensive coordinator, but if his recruiting acumen really is as good as everyone says, he could help Maryland's defense become one of the Big Ten's best.