COLLEGE PARK -- Assuming that things remain on track and Saturday's game is played, despite the threat posed by Hurricane Joaquin, the torrential downpour expected in College Park and the rest of the region will undoubtedly change how the game between Maryland and Michigan is played.
Michigan has already shown a commitment to running the football, quarterback Jake Rudock is still working through early season turnover issues, and Maryland's defense hasn't shown the ability to consistently stop the run. All signs point to a lot of pounding the ball on the ground for the Wolverines.
"Even with the rain, they might not be able to throw as much," sophomore linebacker Jermaine Carter said. "The ball gets heavier, it gets wet so it may be a little more slippery so we can hopefully cause some turnovers.
"You've got to be ready. Get your helmet on the football."
But there is still caution. Iowa transfer Jake Rudock is more than capable as a passer, though he may be turnover-prone.
"With all that run, they'll run, run, run," defensive coordinator Keith Dudzinski said, "then hit you with the play-action pass and we've got to be disciplined on the back end."
Michigan’s staff has been coy about fully addressing the extent to which running back De’Veon Smith’s injury will affect his availability for Saturday, saying that he is “working through” it and “doing a nice job,” according to the Detroit News.
Smith is the key to the entire operation, leading the team in rushing with 331 yards on 69 attempts this season.
On the other side of the ball, turnover-prone quarterback Caleb Rowe will need to be particularly careful with the football in wet conditions against the nation’s No. 2-ranked defense.
“If, in fact, [the hurricane] hits, then we have to adjust our game plan and our thought process to protecting the football,” offensive coordinator Mike Locksley said on Wednesday. “Obviously, running the football, taking your shots when you can throw it and we’ll be prepared to do that.”
That would mean more weight falls on the shoulders of running backs Brandon Ross and Wes Brown.
Ross, who was made aware of the possible weather conditions on Wednesday, was Maryland’s lone bright spot on Saturday against West Virginia when he carried the ball 15 times for 130 yards.
In the past, though, he has had issues with ball security.
“Coach has always preached ball security in practice so nothing is really changing up too much,” Ross said. “We haven’t really changed up too much. Coach hasn’t really said much about it.”