Maryland Terrapins vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers: Keys to victory

College Park — A day after Dr. Rod Walters released his findings from his team’s investigation of the Jordan McNair incident, the Terps open up their conference schedule against Minnesota. Once again the Terps will have to look past the emotional distractions and find a way to show up and play football.

The undefeated Gophers are 3-0 with convincing wins in two-out-of-three victories. The Gophers bring a mediocre 83rd ranked offense to College Park led by true freshman walk-on Zack Annexstad. Minnesota also has the 19th overall defense led by linebacker Blake Cashman who to leads the team with 21 total tackles.

Keys to victory:

  1. Commit to the run game: The Terps boast the 27th overall rushing offense and only ran for 132 yards on 31 carries against Temple. When the best weapon you have on offense is the run game, 31 carries is not a commitment. Coach Matt Canada must commit to running the ball in order for the Terps offense to be successful. A strong running game will also open up the passing game. The Maryland running back group is one of the nations deepest and most talented, led by senior Ty Johnson who has only 29 carries on the season but is averaging 6.1 yards when he touches the ball. As a team the Terps are averaging 5.5 yards per attempt, which ranks 27th in the nation.
  2. Start Fast: In the last two contests the Terps have looked flat, lethargic, and the scores showed that. Although injuries were a factor in last weeks 31-14 loss against the Owls. The Terps still allowed a mediocre team to come into College Park and spoil their home opener.  In week two against Bowling Green the Terps were down 10-14 at halftime before waking up and completely dominating the second half by racking up 444 yards on the ground. Maryland would go on to win that game 44-14. Whatever half time speech Coach Canada gave in Bowling Green needs to be incorporated in every pregame. A fire needs to be lit under these men.
  3. Bring the pressure: With the true freshman under center the Terps need to dial up the pass rush. If Maryland can get pressure on Annexstad,  he will be more prone to mistakes. However the walk on quarterback has yet to throw an interception in 79 attempts this season. He has also been relatively unscathed with the Minnesota offensive line allowing just four sacks through three games. The Terps really need to see this “revamped” defensive line take over and dominate like they did against Bowling Green. Defensive Coordinator Andy Buh needs to bring the pressure something the Terps defense has struggled with for the past few years.

Opinion: We have no idea which Terps team will show up today in College Park. Will it be the team that upset the 23rd ranked team in the nation? Or will it be the team that laid an egg at home against a mediocre Temple Owls team? The Terps should win this game at home, but they should have won last week. With NFL talent offensive tackles Damian Prince and Derwin Gray returning this week, a commitment to the run game will put this team in position to win the game. Coach Canada need to see some solid quarterback play from Kasim Hill and Tyrrell Pigrome, or be prepared to move away from the dual quarterback system. To put it simply, the Terps cannot afford poor quarterback play today in a highly winnable game.

Prediction: Terps win 24-17

Image Credit: The Baltimore Sun

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Owls roll in College Park: Terps lose 35-14

COLLEGE PARK — The Terps were embarrassed in their home opener on Saturday when they welcomed the winless Temple Owls. Maryland was routed 35-14, marking the first time the Terps have lost a home opener against an unranked opponent in over two decades.

For as good as the Terps looked week one against the Longhorns, and as well as they played in the second half of the Bowling Green game, they looked equally as bad against the Owls.  They came out flat and were simply out played and out coached. Kudos to the Temple coaching staff who put together a game plan that put their team in position to knock off the Terps.

The Terps were utterly dominated by the Owls. Temple held the Terps offense to less than 200 yards total offense. The same Terps offense who ran for 444 yards just a week ago. The Temple defense also held the Terps offense completely out of the end zone. Terps quarterback Kasim Hill spent much of the day running for his life as the Owls forced seven sacks on the day. Hill posted atrocious numbers behind center, completing just 7 passes on 17 attempts for 56 yards and an interception. The offensive line clearly missed its two starting tackles, Derwin Gray and Damian Prince. The offensive line had only given up one sack prior to Saturday’s performance.

Bright-spots were few and far between during yesterday’s lackluster performance. The only highlights were from defensive and special teams play. A stellar interception returned 36 yards by Darnell Savage in the second quarter and a blocked punt return by Jessie Aniebonam for 27 yards in the fourth quarter.

During the post game press conference, Coach Canada ran through a gauntlet of questioning. When asked about the Kasim Hill’s quarterback play Canada responded,

“It’s probably just bad coaching by me. He’s got to play better sooner, we’ve got to start faster, obviously we saw that last week [as well]. I don’t know why it’s occurring but it certainly occurred today.”

Canada fully accepted the responsibility of this loss. Throughout the press conference he placed the blame on his shoulders.

 “In the first half every second down it seemed like we did something silly — we missed an opportunity, we had a sack or we lost yardage, so all the sudden you’re in third-and-longs. Your base offense, which we think we’ve been OK at, we didn’t even get to see. We didn’t run our offense and that’s because we didn’t execute and that falls completely on me.”

Take Aways:

  1. Commit to the run game. The Terps ran for 444 yards against Bowling Green, this week they only had 132 yards on 31 carries. (Both stats are season lows)
  2. Where is the pass rush? The Terps pass rush was non-existent Saturday. The defense exploded last week in Bowling Green recording 5 total sacks, and it certainly vanished against the Owls.
  3. Commit to one of the quarterbacks. If Hill is the guy, let him take the reins and control this offense. The dual quarterback system has yet to be successful this season. Tyrell Prigrome has been less than effective when under center.
  4. Injuries really hurt the Terps Saturday as they missed vital pieces on the offensive line. This would end up being disastrous as the Owls had constant pressure on Hill for most of the game.

Next Up:

The Terps open up conference play against the undefeated Minnesota Golden Gophers next Saturday 9/22 at 12:00 pm.

Image Credit: The Baltimore Sun

Game Reaction: Terps overcome a slow start and roll in Bowling Green

BOWLING GREEN, OH — The Terps improved to 2-0 after a 45-14 win at Doyt L. Perry Stadium. The Terps got off to a slow start and found themselves trailing 14-10 at halftime, but rallied back to score 35 unanswered points in the second half to route the Falcons.

In the first quarter, the Bowling Green fans had the stadium rocking as they welcomed a Power 5 Conference opponent for the first time since 2014. In the first few drives, the Terps’ offense looked explosive, but continued to sabotage themselves with mental mistakes leading to penalties. In the first half alone, the Terps were penalized nine times for 80 yards. On the other hand, the Falcons were taking full advantage of the physical mismatch on the outside. The Bowling Green offense boasted two distinct size advantages with receivers Quintin Morris (6’3′ 230) and Deric Phouthavong (6’5′ 205). In the first half, the Falcons had two touchdown drives, one 14-play, 89-yard drive which ended with a touchdown pass from Jarret Doege to Scott Miller. The other was a drive that ended with a broken play 29-yard touchdown pass from Doege to Morris. At halftime, the prediction’s of a “let down” game looked to be shaping up as a real possibility.

The second half was where the defense really came alive. The defensive line looked explosive firing off the ball, and absolutely dominating the smaller Bowling Green offensive line. Isaiah Davis, Antoine Brooks and Byron Cowart, led the Terps defense with a combined 3.5 and five tackles for loss. After giving up 161 total yards to the Falcons offense in the first half, the Terps defense only gave up seven combined yards in the second half.

After the game, Bowling Green head coach Mike Jinks said:

”They physically kicked our tails on both sides of the ball, up front offensively and defensively.”

As the defense absolutely dominated in the second half, Maryland interim head coach Matt Canada committed the Terps to the power run game. The Terps rolled on the ground for the next two quarters racking up a grand total of 444 yards on the ground. They averaged more than eight yards-per-carry, and carried five touchdowns into the endzone. Ty Johnson led the stellar running back group with 124 yards and a touchdown. Tayon Fleet-Davis added 102 yards and two touchdowns. Ty Johnson moved into Maryland’s top 10 all-time rushing list with his performance.

This Maryland football team scored 38 unanswered points to beat a Bowling Green team who were itching for an upset bid. Despite a rocky start, the Terps cruised to a 45-14 win behind a bone-crushing run game and stout defensive front.

OPINION

After a super emotional win against a highly touted Texas Longhorns team, this game had all of the inklings of a potential let down. The game even started with those same feelings, as he Terps ripped off some explosive runs only to shoot themselves in the foot on simultaneous drives. Coach Canada really needs to work with his guys on the mental mistakes. They were able to recover against a lackluster Bowling Green defense, but when BIG10 play opens up, these are the types of mistakes that will cost the team a game. Certainly 14-penalties for 139 yards is completely unacceptable.

The offensive and defensive line looked like real BIG10 units on the field Saturday. They were big and physical, absolutely dominating the smaller front of the Falcons. The running back group, who was stymied in Landover last weekend, showed up in force. They had two players ellipse 100 yards, had four runs for over 30+ yards. A group that needed to show up finally did. Kasim Hill played a solid game completing 50% of his passes for 121 yards and a touchdown through the air.

The Terps looked ugly in the first half, but Coach Canada must have said the right things to get his men focused. All three units came out firing on all cylinders, imposing the brute strength advantage the Terps had. Hopefully, the Terps can keep the freight train power run offense rolling as they welcome a mediocre Temple team to College Park next Saturday at 12PM.