8B November 21,2014/FootbalSat a
One final chance
to succeed at home
By ALEJANDRO ZUNIGA
Managing Sports Editor
DuringBrady Hoke's firstyear as
the Michigan football team's coach
in 2011, he could do no wrong.
Ace the introductory press
conference? Check. Pull out a
miraculous comeback against
Notre Dame, a major rival? Check.
Successfully run a fake field goal
to help blow out a good Nebraska
team? Check. Beat Ohio State?
Check. Make a BCS bowl game
(ahead of Michigan State, no less)
and win it? Check.
Almost every break fell
Michigan's way that season.
The Wolverines recovered 20
fumbles and lost just six. Ohio
State quarterback Braxton Miller
overthrew a wide-open receiver
to miss what would have been a
game-winning touchdown for the
Buckeyes, and Michigan somehow
converted an ugly botched field
goal against Virginia Tech in the
But three years have passed, and
things aren't quite so rosy anymore.
Saturday marks Senior Day
at Michigan Stadium, when the
program will honor the 12 student-
athletes who will play in their final
home game. It might also be Hoke's
last game there, too.
Since that honeymoon year,
things have only gotten worse
for Hoke and his team - on the
field, at least. Off the gridiron, the
Wolverines insist they're more
tight-knit than ever, and Hoke
expects to be fueled by emotion
"You look at guys who have
worked their tails off for four or
five years," Hoke said Wednesday.
"You look at guys as a coach and as
a mentor (and) how they've grown,
not just from a football standpoint
but guys are graduating, guys
who've grown as men, so there's
always that. I don't know if you get
emotional about not being able to
coach this guy again, that part of
it, but the relationships that you've
built, I think those things really are
the emotional part of it."
Saturday marks the final
home game for fifth-year senior
quarterback Devin Gardner and
fifth-year senior middle linebacker
Jake Ryan, among several others.
And while this season hasn't
featured much winning at the Big
House, the group is determined to
end on a positive note.
"I'm just really excited,"
Gardner said. "There's a lot more
at stake than just my last game at
Michigan. It's never been about me,
and it's not going to be about me on
Saturday. I'm just going to go out
and give it everything I have, like
I've always given, to try and get a
win for the team."
But the opponent is no cupcake.
Maryland (3-3, 6-4) boasts road
wins over Iowa and Penn State, so
it shouldn't be fazed by Michigan
The Terrapins aren'tstatistically
dominant in any category; they
rank67th overall inpassingoffense,
67th in points for and 84th in points
against. Most notably, they average
just 113.7 rushing yards per game,
good for just 114th in the nation.
That should play well into the
Wolverines' strength. They rank
seventh in the nation in rushing
yards allowed (103.2) and have
surrendered fewer than three
yards per carry.
But Michigan's defensive line
will be tested in its first game
without senior defensive end
Frank Clark, who was dismissed
from the team Monday amidst
allegations of domestic violence. In
his place, junior Mario Ojemudia
and sophomore Taco Charlton will
likely each see more time at the
"Taco, we all know Taco. He's
made some really good plays
already in his young career,"
said defensive coordinator Greg
Mattison on Monday. "Mario, I
mean, if you really focus, Mario's
done some unbelievable things,
and Brennen Beyer, you don't have
to say much about him. And there's
more and more guys. That's just
the guys at that position or at that
category, so we justkeep going."
Mattison did praise Maryland's
passing attack, which is led by
quarterback C.J. Brown, and
receivers Deon Long and Marcus
Leak. However, the Terps' best
offensive threat, star wideout
Stefon Diggs, will miss the game
with an unspecified injury.
And that might just be enough
for Michigan's veteran defense to
dominate Maryland and - four
seasons after Hoke's tenure began
- end the 2014 home slate on a