Michigan football survives questionable play calling vs. Maryland thanks to Corum, Schoonmaker

Wolverines travel to Kinnick Stadium to face Iowa for first road challenge of season

ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN - SEPTEMBER 24: Blake Corum #2 of the Michigan Wolverines scores a fourth quarter touchdown in front of Deonte Banks #3 of the Maryland Terrapins at Michigan Stadium on September 24, 2022 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Michigan won the game 34-27. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) (Gregory Shamus, 2022 Getty Images)

ANN ARBOR – The Michigan Wolverines survived their first challenge of the 2022 season with some record-setting contributions by junior running back Blake Corum and senior tight end Luke Schoonmaker to defeat the Maryland Terrapins 34-27 in the Big House.

The men in maize had a day to remember as they overcame questionable play calling in the opening of Big Ten play, improving to 4-0 on the season and 1-0 in the conference on the shoulders of Corum, who tied yet another school record.

Blake Corum

Corum, a native of the DMV area, set career highs in carries (30) and rushing yards (243) while scoring two loud touchdowns.

“It was fun being out there with guys I played with before,” said Corum. “This game of football doesn’t last forever, so when you get to play with (former) teammates, it’s always fun.”

His 243 rushing yards were the most since Denard Robinson (258) in 2010 against Notre Dame. It was also the most by a Michigan running back since Tim Biakabutuka (313) in 1995 against Ohio State.

Denard Robinson and Taylor Lewan celebrate Michigan's game-winning touchdown to beat Notre Dame in the first night game at Michigan Stadium. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Corum is also the first running back to rush for 200 yards since Karan Higdon (200, three touchdowns) in 2017 against the Indiana Hoosiers.

Karan Higdon escapes the tackle of Rachad Wildgoose during a run on Oct. 13, 2018, at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The miniature speedster left it all on the field Saturday (Sept. 24), and head coach Jim Harbaugh took notice, calling him the consummate worker after his performance.

“He’s the consignment worker team guy all the way,” said Harbaugh. “This guy got a big heart and broad shoulders.”

“I left it all out there,” said Corum. “I just love this game, I love this team, I love this block M, and I love my guys, man. I just came out here for them, and they made plays for me. We got the job done. We got some things to fix, but it was a great game vs. a great team.”

Corum did more for his team than what was seen as his in-the-box score as his commitment to pass blocking, selling the play-action fakes, and running pass routes guided the Wolverines’ passing offense, which freed up Schoonmaker early and often.

Luke Schoonmaker

Schoonmaker stepped up big as the senior tight end had a career-high seven catches for 72 yards, and a touchdown after the Wolverines’ special teams recovered an opening kickoff fumble.

The 6′2 250 pound behemoth filled in for Erick All, who is still sidelined with an undisclosed injury. His athleticism will prove pivotal down the stretch as the season progresses.

J.J. McCarthy

J.J. McCarthy rarely used his legs as it looked like the team wanted him to be a pocket passer, but it was like playing with one hand tied behind his back.

“We started off hot right away due to great special teams, but we started off slow in the first half,” said McCarthy. “We’ve been working on that respond factor that we’ve been working on all season long, and it was great to see that come to fruition today. I felt extremely comfortable today as my offensive line gave me all day to throw, and then Blake (Corum) just made everything so much easier as he had a heck of a game.”

J.J. McCarthy #9 of the Michigan Wolverines looks to throw a second half pass against the Maryland Terrapins at Michigan Stadium on September 24, 2022 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (2022 Getty Images)

Wolverines legend Charles Woodson (wearing a green suit and white collard shirt) was on the set of the Big Noon Kickoff show. He watched the entirety of the game and saw him impersonate Minnesota Vikings legend, Fran Tarkenton as McCarthy scrambled to extend a drive, and he wanted to see more.

“He was just kind of telling me everything that was going on with the game and his insights and all that,” McCarthy said to Wolverines Wire. “But the big thing that stood out to me with him was just use my legs more. I mean, God gave me them for a reason. And when I’m sitting back there, and I’m not seeing anything open, just run. I took that wholeheartedly, and that’s something that I really need to do. But, yeah, it was just great. Just G.O.A.T advice right there.”

McCarthy finished the day completing 18-26 passes for 220 yards and two touchdowns, but his day would have been meh if the team hadn’t overcome some questionable play calling.

Questionable play calling

The Wolverines’ play calling was abysmal throughout most of the game. But the opening possession of the second half had many scratching their heads when it came to who was calling the offensive plays for the Wolverines.

The Wolverines ran a dive play on third down and four for two yards, causing fans in the Big House and the commentators in the booth to scratch their heads.

“They won’t really tell you who has the play calling, but when you look at Michigan today, they look flat and out of sync,” said Michigander Gus Johnson. “Would you say that would have anything to do with having too many cooks in the kitchen?”

With former offensive coordinator Josh Gattis taking his talents to Miami, the Wolverines elevated Co-Offensive Coordinator Matt Weiss to go along with Sherrone Moore, who was an understudy of Gattis as a coordinator.

“Who has veto power,” said Joel Klatt. “They were like, ‘no one has veto power.’ When the rubber meets the road, who calls the plays? They said, ‘we both do.’ That works against UConn but on third down tomorrow, who calls the plays? I couldn’t get an answer, and that’s the way it looked.”

Klatt continued:

“Listen, I’m the son of a coach, and I played the quarterback position, I’m a firm believer that you’ve got to have somebody that has the voice of authority in establishing the rhythm for your offense, and right now, Sherrone Moore and Matt Weiss are having a hard time finding that rhythm. Who’s calling the plays, and how is that rhythm being established?”

Defense

The Wolverines’ defense looked dominant after three weeks of football, but when they faced a team that punched back, they looked like a stunned boxer as the Terrapins racked up 397 total yards with 269 coming through the air.

Luckily, playmakers D.J. Turner and R.J. Moten made remarkable interceptions, ultimately winning the game for the men in maize.

ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN - SEPTEMBER 24: R.J. Moten #6 of the Michigan Wolverines intercepts a fourth quarter pass next to Jacob Copeland #2 of the Maryland Terrapins at Michigan Stadium on September 24, 2022 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Michigan won the game 34-27. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) (2022 Getty Images)

Michigan has now won 51 of their last 55 conference openers, but they will have their hands full as they’ll travel to Kinnick Stadium for another tough matchup against the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Do you think the Wolverines’ struggles on both sides of the ball were a fluke, or will it be something that will haunt them down the line?


About the Author:

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.