It Doesn't Have to Be This Way (Michigan 34, Maryland 27)

This is our concern, dude.

Photo: Tyler Carlton

Look, they like this.
Is it worth getting all worked up about?

Was it worth it last season after Michigan's narrow 20-13 homecoming win against Rutgers when seemingly everything was going bad and Michigan had no answers...against home...against Rutgers?

It happens.

Check out our complete photo gallery from the Maryland game here!

But unlike Rutgers a year ago, Maryland is probably a pretty good football team. It is still September, however, so we'll see how it all shakes out.

Two main concerns coming out of Saturday's game...

Defense, overall was pretty good. A couple big plays from Maryland which is to be expected when you're getting the kitchen sink thrown at you, but a few key plays on the last Terps drive was really what left a bad taste in our mouths.

Like Billy Edwards' pass to Jacob Copeland for 17 yards on 4th and 13. And right about when Joel Klatt was telling us that Eyabi Okie is this year's David Ojabo (because they both have odd names and play DE?) Billy Edwards scrambles for 23 yards on 3rd and 21. The next play was a Billy Edwards pass to a wide open Jeshaun Jones for 22 yards down to the Michigan 16.

Sigh. Maryland's in business.

Four plays later, on 4th and 12, Billy "Throw God" Edwards tosses a touchdown pass to CJ Dippre to make it a one-score game. And, for an extra helping of frustration, Edwards' 2-point conversion attempt was good.

Double sigh.

Again, is Maryland good? Probably, yes. Was Michigan caught a little off-guard like they were against Rutgers last year? I think so. A 34-19 win would've felt far more comfortable than a 34-27 win, but I think I'll reserve any true worries about Michigan's defense for now.

The other main concern from Saturday was on the other side of the ball.

Look, JJ McCarthy was not the issue here dude. We know what JJ is good at and what he's not so good at. The issue is, and there's really no simpler way to put this, but Michigan needs to find a way to keep Cade McNamara involved in this offense.

This was a game well-suited for strengths that McNamara brings to the table. When your running back and offensive line are going off and having a banner day, which they did, Michigan doesn't need a QB who's scrambling around the backfield trying to make a huge play. This is both the best and worst thing about McCarthy's abilities. He's a baller...plain and simple. He wants to be that guy. He is that guy. But in a game when Blake Corum is absolutely going off, Michigan doesn't need a baller at QB. Michigan needs a game manager. Someone who can do just enough to keep the defense honest and keep the running game popping and the chains moving.

Having a tough time stopping the Terps? Keep their offense off the field.

A big part of the reason 2021's offense was ultimately so effective was because Jim Harbaugh found a way to utilize the strengths of both his QBs...a difficult thing to accomplish for sure. But somehow, it worked, and it created real problems for opposing defenses to have to gameplan for two very different styles.

I don't really understand why, but coming into this season, there was a desire to get away from that and name a full-time starter. I can see why JJ was the one to win that battle, he does bring more to the offense than Cade in terms of playmaking ability...but for an offense that is so heavily biased towards running the ball (with good reason), why move away from using two quarterbacks in a way that was so effective a year ago?

Look, when you play teams like UConn and Hawaii and Colorado State, you're not going to get a good gauge for how truly effective one QB is going to be over another. Cade McNamara is not the type of QB to outshine someone like JJ McCarthy head-to-head in a glorified scrimmage. But what Cade does best is perform extremely well under pressure in big game Penn State or Ohio State a year ago. He wins games, not by running all over the field and chucking the ball into tight spots, but by making smart decisions and promoting Michigan's biggest strength as a run-first offense.

Michigan's offense is far more dangerous with McNamara as the starter, and McCarthy as the wildcard to come in every few plays to do what he does best. It worked well a year ago, and it can work again because all of the pieces and parts are still there...a great offensive line, solid receivers and tight ends, and a punishing running game that is unquestionably the strength of this team.

If Jim Harbaugh can be comfortable with two offensive coordinators, then surely he can be comfortable with two quarterbacks, which ultimately worked so well a season ago. I believe that if Michigan is going to successfully defend their Big Ten title, that's how they're going to have to do it.

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