College Park – It’s homecoming week as the Terrapins welcome the (1-5, 0-3 BIG10) Scarlet Knights. A game some call a rivalry, which is kind of a joke considering the Terps, and Knights have been perennial BIG10 basement dwellers. Neither team has finished above .500 since 2014. The Scarlet Knights have been exceptionally bad this season losing five straight games and failing to score more than 17 points in each individual contest. The Terps need to pick up an easily winnable game to keep their bowl eligible chances alive, the schedule certainly doesn’t get easier than it is today.
Maryland looks for a strong showing after a drubbing in Ann Arbor a week ago, where the Terps fell 42-21 to the Michigan Wolverines. The Michigan defense was just too much for the Terps allowing just 220 total yards. Maryland came into last Saturdays game averaging more than 250 yards just on the ground.
Keys To Victory
POUND THE ROCK – Maryland needs to take advantage of the Scarlet Knights true weakness, run defense. The Knights are just plain awful on defense but the run defense is exceptionally bad. They are allowing 229.0 yards per game, and 5.7 yards per carry. This fits perfectly into the Terps run first scheme. The Terps have the dynamic duo of Ty Johnson, and Anthony McFarland. Johnson, and McFarland are two electric players who can hit the home-run ball from anywhere on the field. Together they have over 600 yards on the ground and four touchdowns. Look for Maryland to rack up huge numbers on the ground today at home.
Control The Clock – This Terps team has racked up a litany of highlight reel worthy plays all season long. The Terps have had over 15 plays this season that have gone for more than 25 yards. Running back Anthony McFarland has 4 plays over 25 yards himself, including a 64 yard touchdown run against the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Ty Johnson has had a 81 yard touchdown run, and just last week against Michigan he returned a kick-off 98 yards for a touchdown. These highlight reel type plays are exciting, and can create huge momentum swings in a field position battle. But it also creates problems, the Maryland offense can be feast or famine type offense. Meaning they either are feasting on explosive plays and racking up huge yards, or they struggle to sustain drives. When they struggle to sustain drives it puts mounting pressure on the Terps defense. A defense that thrives by flying around the field with aggressive play. A week ago the defense was on field for nearly an entire quarter longer than the offense. In fact Maryland has only won the time of possession battle twice this season, week 1 against Texas, and again week 2 against the Bowling Green Owls. Maryland opponents have possessed the ball for more than 20 minutes longer than the Terps offense this season. Look for the Terps to sustain drives and control the football today.
Canada had some comments about sustaining drives:
“It’s very hard to drive down the football field and have a 12, 13, 14-play drive,” “We’ve had a couple of those, and you certainly hope as an offense you’re disciplined enough and sound enough to do that. But it’s not something that’s easy to do.”
Quarterback Controversy? – Is there a quarterback controversy? Nope, the controversy is that both quarterbacks have been really bad. The facts are these quarterbacks HAVE to play better. Kasim Hill is completing just over 50% of his passes for less than 600 yards. His play has been extremely mediocre, with just three touchdown passes and two interceptions. Hill has cracked 200 yards through the air just once (222) week 1 against the Texas Longhorns. Currently, Maryland ranks last in the Big Ten and 123rd in the country with 127.6 yards passing per game. Collectively there is no big secret if you stop the Terps run offense your chances of winning are pretty good. Just ask the Temple Owls. As bad as Kasim Hill has played, would Tyrell Pigrome fair any better? I don’t think so. I think it comes down to scheme. Matt Canada needs to do a better job putting these men in position to succeed. Hill has only attempted 86 passes on the season, i understand the commitment to the run game, and if it “ain’t broke don’t fix it”. But what if it breaks? What happens when your opponents loads the box, and the run game is stymied? What is the back up plan? It’s clearly not throwing the ball downfield. Maybe it’s a lack of trust for Canada in his two quarterbacks. Whatever the problem is it has to get better to be successful.
I honestly feel like I could copy and past what I write each week. RUN THE BALL, KASIM NEEDS TO PLAY BETTER, MISTAKE FREE, START FAST. But these are the clear strength and weaknesses of this Maryland team. At times the play sloppy, penalty ridden football, and then they come out firing on all cylinders and rack up 300+ rushing yards. The real problem lies in this question. Just what team shows up for work today?
Prediction: Terps 45, Scarlet Knights 20
- When: Saturday October 13th, 12:00pm
- Where: Maryland Stadium, College Park, Maryland
- Radio: 105.7TheFan
- TV: Big10 Network
Image Credit: The Baltimore Sun