Keys to victory – Maryland Terrapins vs. Rutgers Scarlet Knights

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

The Details:

  • When: Saturday October 13th, 12:00pm
  • Where: Maryland Stadium, College Park, Maryland
  • Radio: 105.7TheFan
  • TV: Big10 Network

Image Credit: The Baltimore Sun

 

 

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Keys to Victory – Maryland Terrapins Vs. #15 Michigan Wolverines

Ann Arbor- After a much-needed bye week, the Maryland football team charges into the teeth of the BIG10 elite. The Terps are walking in to the “Big House” for Michigan’s homecoming game. Both teams bolster hard-nosed, run stopping defenses, and elite running back groups. But the Michigan Wolverines are easily the toughest opponent the Terps have faced this season, and things could quickly get out of hand.

The Maryland Terps (3-1, 1-0 BIG10) are 1-6 all time against the Wolverines (4-1, 2-0 BIG10) . Including a 35-10 drubbing in College Park last season. Maryland won their first BIG10 game against the Wolverines, in Brady Hoke’s last game as head coach back in 2014. Since then the Wolverines have ripped off 3 straight.

Key To Victory

Establish the run – Although the Terps average more than 250 yards on the ground per game (258.5ypg), they are facing a top 10 rush defense. Anthony McFarland and Ty Johnson can strike from any spot on the field behind a stout offensive line. McFarland is averaging a huge 10.8 yards per carry on 27 carries. The Maryland offensive line needs to start fast and dominate at the point of attack. The offensive line led by Damian Prince and Derwin Gray should be back to full speed after the bye week, both having missed sometime due to nagging injuries. The Wolverines defense allows a little more than 86 yards a game on the ground (86.4ypg), so this will be no easy feat.

Play mistake free football – At times the Terps have certainly looked sloppy, averaging more than nine penalties, and 90.5 penalty yards per game, the second-most in the Big Ten. With a top 10 defense like Wolverines the Terps will not be able to afford these types of mistakes.

“We can’t have penalties,” Canada said. “You can’t beat yourselves, and certainly we’ve had that happen in a couple games where we’ve cost ourselves some opportunities.”

Kasim Hill has to show up – For as explosive as the Terps offense has been the weakest link is certainly the play of sophomore quarterback Kasim Hill. The Terps offense is a feast or famine type offense they have had 15 plays for 25 or more yards, but have struggled to sustain drives. Luckily, the Terps haven’t needed to call on Hill much, with the shear dominance the run game has been able to accomplish. Back in week three the Temple Owls came into College Park with a simple yet effective game plan, STOP THE RUN. Quarterback Kasim Hill went 7 for 17 for 56 yards, and backup Tyrrell Pigrome was 1 for 4 for 7 yards. Both threw an interception. The Wolverines are going to have the same exact game plan, stop the run, and make Hill beat us. The Terps are going to need more from Kasim Hill if they want to be victorious at the Big House.

Slow down Karan HigdonKaran Higdon has been an absolute mauler for the Wolverines this season, with 76 carries for 479 yards and five touchdowns on the year. Higdon is coming off a solid game, ripping off 31 carries for 115 yards and two touchdowns against Northwestern. But, the Terps have a solid run defense, led upfront by transfers Tre Watson and Byron Cowart. The run defense ranks fourth in the Big Ten at 104 yards allowed per game and just 2.7 per rush. The Terrapins defense should come in with similar game plan to the Wolverines, stop the run, and make the quarterback beat you. Unfortunately i think the Wolverines have the advantage with transfer junior Shea Patterson. Much like Kasim Hill, Patterson has not been asked to do much as the offense is centered around the run game.

Prediction

Michigan 33 Maryland 17

The Details:

  • When: Saturday October 6th, 12:00pm
  • Where: Michigan Stadium, “THE BIG HOUSE”, Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Radio: 105.7TheFan
  • TV: ABC

Image Credit: The Baltimore Sun

 

 

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