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COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Like many a year, Maryland came close to taking down a top team set to play its rivalry game the next year, but close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.
After the game, Maryland head coach Mike Locksley credited Michigan football with its win and shared what it was the Wolverines did to keep the Terrapins from escaping with an unlikely win.
Here are the things Locksley said that pertained to the Wolverines in his postgame press conference.
As always give credit to our opponent. Michigan did a really good job having their team prepared for a game like this, with all the things they got going on up their neck of the woodsTheir team continues to show tremendous resiliency. But I’m also proud of the way our team fought. I’m not up here to celebrate a moral victory at all. But you know what — to have a breakthrough win, our team played the script, to a tee except to finish.
And to me, down 20, and we still had chance to win. Our team continued to fight, we knew that we would have to take their best we withstood the onslaught early. And, early in the first half, and going in at the halftime, we knew that coming out and scoring early, and getting a three-and-out to get us back in the game, and we’re able to do it.
When you play a champion like Michigan, you gotta understand, they won’t give it to you. And our guys need to continue to understand that we’re gonna have to go take it, whether it’s against them, and the crowd — they had a great crowd show up here for us. But you know what — there are no moral victories. But this is definitely one of those games that I feel as a program that we’ll be able to build off of.
We’ve got one more regular season opportunity for our seniors, which to me, a game like this is it hurts more because of the group of seniors and the leadership that some of the guys that have been around here that made a decision to come here when and it was just a vision we were selling. We had quite a few guys that we brought in for one year, and they bought in immediately. And so the leadership that this group has provided has been phenomenal for us. And so we owe it to them as we go up to Rutgers next week, which it’s always tough, as I say, to win on the road in the Big Ten, especially against Rutgers, who has really done some good things this week, or this year, as a program. But I’ll tell you what this team will continue to fight and I’m proud of them. Again, there’s no moral victory. But I can tell you that this team showed up today and fought the champion into the end, or to the fourth quarter, and came up short. And we’ll be able to build off of this and as a program, I know we will. So with that, I’ll open it up to questions.
Michigan’s pass rush
I think the big thing is most of the pressure came with a four-man rush. And to me, they played coverage behind it very few times that they outnumber the box or bring pressure — I think they have maybe one zero check on third down. And so we’ve got to be able to do is obviously, when people play us in coverage, there’s some opportunities where you have to check the ball down and get to that a little quicker. I think we found ourselves holding on to the football. We did give up some pressure on the interior, which is kind of been an Achilles heel for us, is our inability to keep things firm for our quarterback. Especially when we have opportunities to throw the ball down the field. But again, give Michigan credit, they did a good job of creating the sacks and winning some of those one-on-one battles and we’ve got to do a better job of protecting the quarterback.
Michigan’s defensive stands late in the game
Well, we’re gonna have a change to field position, two punts. And of course, the football gods laughed at us and dropped the ball there at the one-inch line for us to have to go win the game. And that’s where we have to learn to be able to execute critical situations with our back to it, things we practice that’s coming out offense and we ended up giving up a safety — I’m not gonna get into that part of the call there. But wherever the ball ends up to start to drive on offense, we’ve got to figure out how to execute and how to execute in critical situations. Our defense did a really good job all second half of giving us these opportunities but again, you can’t hope or pray that they make the mistake we have to go execute at a high level and we didn’t get that done.
Well, I think he’s had quite a few signature wins. I’d hold the horses on him leaving it without a signature win. I mean the guy just let us the three straight bowl games, could be ending up being the all-time leading passer in the history of this conference. So I think what he’s done here is pretty significant to me.
How Maryland can win a game like this?
Players making a play and then us as coaches making sure we putting them in the best possible position. It’s no secret formula to it. I mean, we’ve got to give them a good plan. And then they’ve got to execute. And I think both sides as players and coaches, we all understand that and the only way over is to get it done. And you ain’t gonna get it done by talking about it. We’ve got to execute in critical situations against really good teams to win games like this.
Maryland’s defense standing up to the Michigan football offense
Our defense has given us opportunities like this. And if you look at how we’re built on defense, we’ve got an older group over there. We’ve got some tremendous leadership over there, both those safeties, and a veteran D-line, and linebackers. And our defense has played pretty good defense throughout the course of the year. Has it been consistent enough? No. But today, they definitely gave us opportunities to win the game with how we played and on the offensive side of the ball, we were not able to capitalize in the critical parts of the game where we just needed to make a play or two, we had to protect a little better, we had to run block a little better. And we had to make better decisions. And we just didn’t get that done today, man. But again, the fight was there, the effort was there. The preparation was there, the finish wasn’t and that’s on me as the coach to figure out how to get us to finish games like this.