Terrapins trying to find identity early in season

The Maryland Terrapins are continuing to search for consistency, especially on offense, and especially at quarterback.

Perry Hills was named the starting quarterback just before the season opener Labor Day weekend. After falling behind 14-13 late in the first half against the Richmond Spiders of the Football Championship Subdivision, the Terps scored nine unanswered points to take a 22-14 halftime lead. On the way to a 50-21 win, Maryland scored 37 straight points before Richmond scored again. Hills went 12 of 21 for 138 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, and added 25 yards rushing. Brandon Ross ran for 150 yards and a touchdown, and Ty Johnson added 83 yards and a touchdown rushing. Cornerback Will Likely added a touchdown on a punt return. However, the Terps got a big wakeup call in Week 2.

The Bowling Green Falcons brought their high-tempo offense to College Park on Sept. 12, and Maryland couldn’t keep up. Bowling Green quarterback Matt Johnson threw for a career-high 491 yards and six touchdowns. The offense also put up 692 total yards in a 48-27 win. Maryland committed four turnovers. Terps head coach Randy Edsall benched Hills for Caleb Rowe, but Rowe didn’t fare much better, throwing two interceptions in three passes. One of the few highlights for Maryland was Likely’s second punt return for a touchdown.

Rowe was named the starter for Maryland’s home game against the University of South Florida on Sept. 19, and he took advantage. Rowe went 21 of 33 for 297 yards and four touchdowns. However, he also was intercepted three times, fumbled the ball three times (all three fumbles were recovered by Maryland), and overthrew open receivers on several occasions. Rowe was able to bounce back after his first interception led to a South Florida touchdown in the first quarter. The highlight of the game was Rowe’s 70-yard touchdown pass to Taivon Jacobs to end the first quarter. Maryland ended the first half in similar fashion when Ross picked up a bad pitch from Rowe and ran in for a touchdown to give the Terps a 21-10 lead at halftime. Maryland put up 411 yards of total offense, but the defense was burned for 240 yards rushing by the Bulls.

Maryland will close out its non- conference schedule at West Virginia before beginning the Big Ten season in October. Maryland will host Michigan in its Big Ten opener on Oct. 3, then travel to defending national champion Ohio State on Oct. 10. Two weeks later, following their bye week, the Terrapins will play Penn State at M&T Bank Stadium on Oct. 24.

Maryland opens up Big Ten play with convincing win

By Andrew R Koch

The Maryland Terrapins opened up its inagural Big Ten season with a bang, compiling 484 total yards on Indiana en route to a 37-15 win in Bloomington.

Photo credit Terpsrunners under a Creative Commons License
Photo credit Terpsrunners under a Creative Commons License

The offensive output was reminiscent of its roary start in the season opener against James Madison, where it racked up 471 total yards in a 52-7 win. Then the Terps headed down to Tampa on Sept. 6 for a matchup with the South Florida Bulls. As great as their first half was against James Madison, it was just as bad against South Florida. Maryland turned the ball over four times, and had the ball for just over eight minutes, but still only trailed 17-14 at halftime. The offense was more effective in the second half, but still turned the ball over two more times. However, the defense shut out the Bulls after halftime, and special teams came through with a big play. Maryland blocked a punt by South Florida’s Mattias Ciabatti in the fourth quarter, and the ball was recovered in the end zone by Avery Thompson. That gave the Terrapins a 21-17 lead with 12:25 left. Placekicker Brad Craddock closed out the scoring by connecting on a 23-yard field goal with 5:16 left to wrap up a 24-17 win over South Florida. In spite of all the turnovers, South Florida only got seven points off of turnovers (a fumble return for a touchdown in the second quarter). Head coach Randy Edsall said the statistics showed that Maryland’s offense was able to move down the field before turning the ball over.

“You take a look at their average starting (field position) was (their) 27, so they had to go 73 yards to score,” Edsall said during his Sept. 8 press conference. The one thing is at least those turnovers came down on the plus side of the territory, we didn’t give them a short field.” However, he added that his team can’t expect to win if they commit that many turnovers.

The Terrapins returned home with a 2-0 record heading into Week 3 and a night game on Sept. 13 at Byrd Stadium against West Virginia. Once again, Maryland got off to a slow start. Mountaineers running back Rushel Shell scored on a one-yard run, and quarterback Clint Trickett connected with wide receiver Mario Alford on a 43-yard scoring pass to give West Virginia a 14-0 lead after the first quarter. Trickett sandwiched a 44-yard touchdown pass to Kevin White between a pair of Craddock field goals, and then hit Alford for a 36-yard touchdown to make it 28-6 with six minutes left in the first half. After that, Maryland’s offense finally started showing signs of life.

Stefon Diggs caught a 77-yard touchdown pass from quarterback C.J. Brown, and backup Caleb Rowe connected with Jacquille Veii on a 26-yard score with 40 seconds left to cut the deficit to 28-20. Brown then started the second half with a bang by ripping off a 75-yard touchdown run to pull Maryland with one 14 seconds into the second half. West Virginia went back up by 10 on a safety and Trickett’s fourth touchdown pass of the night. The Terps answered right back with 10 unanswered points, capped by a 69- yard punt return by William Likely to tie the game at 37 with just under 10 minutes left. Likely also had an interception and forced a fumble. However, West Virginia would get the last laugh as Josh Lambert hit a 40-yard field goal as time expired. The play wasn’t without controversy. Edsall claims that a lineman on West Virginia’s field goal unit false started, and has sent video of the play, along with a dozen others, to the Big Ten Conference for review.

On Sept. 20, Maryland went into the Carrier Dome to face former ACC opponent Syracuse. Unlike the previous two weeks, the Terps were able to get their offense in gear early. Brown hit Marcus Leak for a 25-yard touchdown pass, and then hit Brandon Ross for a 90-yard score to help Maryland take a 14-6 lead after the first quarter. In the second quarter, after Syracuse scored a touchdown to pull within a point, Craddock hit a 31-yard field goal, and then Veii scored on a four-yard touchdown run to give Maryland a 24-13 lead with 6:13 left in the first half. Likely once again came up with another big defensive play, as he returned an interception 88 yards for a touchdown with 3:37 left in the half to make it 31-13 at halftime. The Terps would go on to a 34-20 win, giving them a 3-1 record as they head into Big Ten play.

Through the nonconference schedule, Maryland is averaging 36.8 points and 401 yards of total offense per game. Special teams have also made significant contributions, as they’ve blocked five kicks in the first four games of the season. Update: Maryland continues Big Ten play with its first conference home game against Ohio State on Oct. 4. After a week, Maryland will host Iowa on Oct. 18, and then travel to Wisconsin on Oct. 25.

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