Ter­rap­ins’ QB carousel spins only ze­roes

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - MICHIGAN 28, MARY­LAND 0 BY RO­MAN STUBBS

Mary­land Coach Randy Ed­sall looked ex­hausted af­ter Satur­day’s 28-0 loss to Michigan, his eyes glassy and his voice hoarse. At one point dur­ing his postgame news con­fer­ence, af­ter be­ing asked about the lin­ger­ing quar­ter­back is­sues plagu­ing his team, Ed­sall looked down and said: “I think you would know that we’ll prob­a­bly be mak­ing a change.”

What else could he say? Ed­sall had paced the side­line with con­fi­dence dur­ing a dreary day in Col­lege Park, of­ten clap­ping in an­i­mated fash­ion as his de­fense came up with stops time and time again. But des­per­a­tion fi­nally set in dur­ing the third quar­ter af­ter start­ing quar­ter­back Caleb Rowe threw his third in­ter­cep­tion, a play that ul­ti­mately doomed any chance at an up­set in the Big Ten opener for both teams. Ed­sall sim­ply turned around on the side­line af­ter the turnover, point­ing at his back­ups to get ready.

It was only 6-0 at that point, il­lus­trat­ing just how much of a fight Mary­land’s de­fense put up against Michigan Coach Jim Har--

baugh’s smash-mouth, pro-style of­fense Satur­day. But the 22nd ranked Wolver­ines turned Rowe’s in­ter­cep­tion into another touch­down, then de­voured his re­place­ment, Daxx Gar­man, in front of thou­sands of fans who were mak­ing their first trip to Col­lege Park, just like their team. Michigan (4-1) posted its sec­ond con­sec­u­tive shutout and al­lowed just 105 to­tal yards.

“Back-to-back shutouts is a heck of a thing. 2000 was the last time Michigan did that,” said Har­baugh, who was joined on the side­line by his brother, John, the Bal­ti­more Ravens coach. “It feels good.”

Mean­while, a dark cloud hangs over Mary­land (2-3), which suf­fered its third sec­ond-half melt­down in four games. It has been outscored 73-6 in the past two weeks and faces a visit to No. 1 Ohio State next week.

The Terps’ on­go­ing is­sues at quar­ter­back con­tin­ued to un­ravel against the coun­try’s sec­on­dranked de­fense Satur­day. Mary­land fin­ished with 10 three-and-outs on 15 drives. Rowe fin­ished 8 for 27 pass­ing for 47 yards and those three in­ter­cep­tions.

Mary­land opened the week with a play­ers-only meet­ing to clear the air af­ter a 45-6 loss to West Vir­ginia, con­vinced it al­ready had reached rock bot­tom. Satur­day’s loss may have been even more painful be­cause of the chances the Ter­rap­ins gave them­selves in the first half thanks to an al­most des­per­ate de­fen­sive per­for­mance. The game was billed as a pos­si­ble slugfest be­cause of the po­ten­tial ef­fects of Hur­ri­cane Joaquin, but con­di­tions weren’t as bad as feared.

It may not have mat­tered for Mary­land’s of­fense.

Satur­day’s game was eerily sim­i­lar to last week’s de­ba­cle at West Vir­ginia: Af­ter a promis­ing first drive ended in Michigan ter­ri­tory, the en­tire op­er­a­tion col­lapsed. Mary­land punted five times, and Rowe was in­ter­cepted twice through the first 30 min­utes, the most costly com­ing late in a score­less first quar­ter af­ter the Ter­rap­ins’ de­fense had forced and re­cov­ered a fum­ble at the Michigan 28-yard line.

Af­ter of­fen­sive pass in­ter­fer­ence wiped out a catch for a first down by Levern Ja­cobs, Rowe was picked off while try­ing to dump a quick pass to run­ning back Bran­don Ross. Rowe, whose 12 in­ter­cep­tions are the most in the coun­try, had just one com­ple­tion in the sec­ond quar­ter as Mary­land stayed close by­way of a hard-nosed de­fen­sive ef­fort: It forced two turn overs and held the Wolver­ines to two first-half field goals.

“Our de­fense gave us a lot of op­por­tu­ni­ties to do more than we did,” Rowe said. “I’m a lit­tle bit at a loss of words right now.”

Like last week at West Vir­ginia, there was spec­u­la­tion that Ed­sall would re­place Rowe to be­gin the sec­ond half, but the red­shirt ju­nior again re­mained un­der cen­ter. Mary­land wasn’t able to cap­i­tal­ize af­ter Quin­ton Jef­fer­son came up with an in­ter­cep­tion near mid­field on the first drive of the third quar­ter, though, and Rowe was picked off deep in­side Mary­land ter­ri­tory on his next drive af­ter try­ing to im­pro­vise an off-bal­ance throw on third and eight.

That set up a Michigan touch­down, a 31-yard scor­ing pass from Jake Ru­dock to Drake John­son, and Ed­sall pulled Rowe in fa­vor of se­nior trans­fer Daxx Gar­man to jump-start his of­fense.

But Gar­man (2-for-9 pass­ing for 29 yards) looked cold, and Mary­land’s de­fense fi­nally wore down. By the time Michigan’s Jehu Chess on rounded the cor­ner on a jet-sweep with just over five min­utes re­main­ing in the third quar­ter, no Mary­land player was there to meet him. His 66-yard score made it 21-0, slam­ming the door on an up­set bid that at least looked some­what pos­si­ble in the early stages of the game.

Eds all was asked Satur­day what he would tell the fans and his team af­ter a dis­heart­en­ing start to the sea­son — a sea­son that will grow only more dif­fi­cult next week.

“I think it’s a tremen­dous op­por­tu­nity for us. That’s what it is,” Ed­sall said.

He ended the somber postgame news con­fer­ence a cou­ple min­utes later, and Mary­land Ath­letic Di­rec­tor Kevin An­der­son gave him a few pats on the back as he walked out. Ed­sall even­tu­ally dis­ap­peared back into the team’s fa­cil­ity, which fell eerily quiet.

PHOTOS BY JOHN MCDON­NELL/THE WASHINGTON POST

Michigan’s Drake John­son breaks the plane for a touch­down in the fourth quar­ter. Mary­land failed to do the same all game, held by theWolver­ines to 105 yards and no points.

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