Maryland-Michigan grades: Defense carries Wolverines

Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from Saturday's Michigan-Maryland game.

| 2 years ago
(AP Photo/Tony Ding)

(AP Photo/Tony Ding)

Maryland-Michigan grades: Defense carries Wolverines

Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Maryland-Michigan game:

Maryland Terrapins

–The Terrapins lost a lot of experience and production on the defensive line this season, but the return of DE Quinton Jefferson (+3.5) from injury has helped smooth the transition to a new defensive line in 2015. Jefferson’s start to 2015 has been strong with grades of +3.0 or above in four of his five games this season, and has racked up four stops in each of the last two games to sit only behind Jermaine Carter (+6.4) for the team lead thus far in the season.

–The Terrapins stuck with Caleb Rowe (-5.6) at quarterback and he produced with another disappointing start, completing less than 40 percent of his pass attempts for the second week in a row. Three drops did not help Rowe’s cause, but two of his poor interceptions only hastened his removal from this game, with Oklahoma State transfer Daxx Garman (-1.9) struggling similarly with accuracy. His receivers dropped two of nine passes, as Maryland’s passing game struggled to find first gear.

–After surrendering in excess of 100 yards and a pair of touchdowns at West Virginia last week, cornerback William Likely (+1.3) rebounded with a strong game in coverage, surrendering only three catches for a meager 15 yards on seven targets. Plays on the ball were a calling card of Likely’s game as a junior (six interceptions, six pass defenses) and he doubled his season output on that front yesterday with two of Maryland’s three pass defenses.

Top performers:

LB Jermaine Carter (+6.4)

DE Quinton Jefferson (+3.5)

FS Anthony Nixon (+2.4)

DB Sean Davis (+1.7)

CB William Likely (+1.3)

Michigan Wolverines

–Recording consecutive shutouts for the first time since 2000, it should be no surprise that the defensive players were the stars of the game for the Wolverines. 18 Michigan defenders saw the field yesterday, none of them received a negative grade, and there was only one missed tackle — from DB Jabrill Peppers (+2.6) — in a standout performance against the lackluster Terrapins.

–At quarterback Jake Rudock (-3.2) made it five straight negatively graded performances as a Wolverine, and his seventh straight dating back to Iowa’s defeat at the hands of Nebraska last season. Rudock completed only one of his 10 pass attempts aimed 10 or more yards down the field yesterday, and for the season has a PFF passing grade of -6.7 on his 40 deep and intermediate pass attempts.

–Three Michigan defenders tied for the team lead, racking up four stops, with Maurice Hurst (+7.0) and Desmond Morgan (+7.0) the stars of the show for the Wolverines. Hurst exploited Maryland center Evan Mulrooney (-8.7) for quick pressures on quick throws and helped shutdown the Terrapins ground game. Morgan meanwhile earned his highest grade of the season so far and now leads the defense with 13 stops after five games.

Top performers:

LB Desmond Morgan (+7.0)

DT Maurice Hurst (+7.0)

CB Jourdan Lewis (+5.3)

DT Willie Henry (+4.8)

DE Mario Ojemudia (+2.9)

| Director of Analysis

Ben joined Pro Football Focus in 2007, and has since been in charge of the company’s analysis process. He also contributes to PFF’s weekly NFL podcast.

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