Maryland (3-1, 1-0) will face its first major test in the Big Ten this season when it faces off against No. 15 Michigan (4-1, 2-0) in Ann Arbor on Saturday. Since moving to the Big Ten in 2014, the Terrapins are 1-3 against the Wolverines, losing the last three games by a combined score of 122-13.
“Jump in the deep water with the big sharks, right?” interim head coach Matt Canada said Tuesday. “That’s what you want to do. You want to play the best, and you want to be around the best. Certainly our conference right now is doing a tremendous job, and you talk about those teams, but all the teams in the league are playing very, very well, and this is the next one on our schedule. We’re excited to go play them, go to a very storied stadium, a very storied program. Our guys are excited to go play, so it’ll be a great opportunity.”
One of the main focuses for Maryland will be winning the battle in the trenches. After multiple years of recruiting talent, the team is confident that it has the players up front to compete with Michigan and other powerhouses in the conference.
The offensive line has been shuffled around, though, with multiple injuries to key starters over the last few weeks. Canada said he expects the entire starting offensive line to play on Saturday, but praised the depth and ability of players to line up at multiple positions.
“I think we’re fortunate to have a lot of depth up front,” Canada said. “I think we said that going in, and obviously we’ve had some injuries which has had certain guys out, a couple tackles here and there and then [Johnny Jordan]. I think it allows a lot of guys to play. I think they’ve played well for the most part, and we’ve had a couple times in different games we haven’t played as well as we wanted, like you always do. We had practiced at camp with different guys in at different spots with the thought of having a lot of guys play. We weren’t doing it to plan on a lot of guys being injured, but that’s kind of what’s happened. We’re fortunate that we prepared that way, and I think they’re doing a good job with it.”
Along with the offensive line, Canada said he also expects all other players to suit up, with the exception of running backs Jake Funk and Lorenzo Harrison III, and third-string quarterback Max Bortenschlager. Funk is still recovering from a broken hand, while Harrison and Bortenschlager are out for the season with a knee and ankle injury, respectively.
Redshirt freshman Anthony McFarland is expected to see more reps with Harrison sidelined. McFarland is coming off back-to-back 100-yard rushing games, the first two of his career, as well as scoring his first two touchdowns.
Just as important as the running game will be the passing offense and the play of the redshirt freshman quarterback Kasim Hill. After having one of his worst games in his early college career against Temple, Hill responded against Minnesota with an efficient showing, completing 10 of his 14 pass attempts for 117 yards and one touchdown.
It will be a tough matchup for Maryland’s offense, as Michigan enters the game with a top-10 run and pass defense.
Kickoff is set for noon and the game will be nationally televised on ABC.
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