Saturday, you might have heard, wasn't the best day for the Big Ten. It wasn't much to write home about for Maryland, either, but the Terps gave just enough to stave off an embarrassing loss against South Florida. The Terps turned the ball over six times, and they needed a giant special teams play to get over the hump. On the bright side, Brian Stewart's defense was strong, surrendering only seven points as a unit despite an avalanche of giveaways.
After a win that won't excite anybody, who's up, and who's down?
Yannick Ngakoue: The sophomore linebacker led all Big Ten performers in tackles for loss on Saturday, bringing down the Bulls three times behind the line of scrimmage (including a sack). That handful of explosive plays, coupled with the increased opportunity he'll get if starter Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil misses any more time going forward, puts his stock on the rise. Even if he isn't starting, Ngakoue figures to have an impact.
This much is fairly clear:
Kenneth Goins Jr.: Maryland's sophomore fullback issued the fourth-quarter punt block that turned the game on its head. The fullback position isn't exactly crucial in the Terps' shotgun-heavy offensive sets, but it's helpful to have a good one. Goins is built like a bull, and he made quite the splash on special teams. He also made a 17-yard reception.
Marcus Leak: How nice must it be for C.J. Brown to have Leak back? Leak showed plenty of potential as a sophomore in 2012, and Maryland's offense missed him badly after Stefon Diggs and Deon Long went down with injuries in the middle of last year. Leak only caught three balls Saturday, but he showed a nice nose for the end zone on his first touchdown catch and impressive burst on his second one.
[Hat tips to linebacker Avery Thompson, who calmly corralled the rolling ball in the end zone after Goins' block, and coordinator Stewart, whose defense was solid all afternoon.]
C.J. Brown: This was another tough week for Brown, who lost a fumble, threw two interceptions and didn't light up the scoreboard against a bad team. However, Maryland's quarterback took some steps forward: He raised his completion rate from 45 percent in week 1 to 60 percent this week, and he threw two nice touchdown passes to Leak. His second interception fell completely on Stefon Diggs, who let Brown's pass deflect off his body and into the waiting arms of a man in a green jersey. Brown certainly wasn't good, but he wasn't as bad as all those Maryland turnovers likely made him look. The team has no reason to move away from him right now.
Brandon Ross: Maryland's starting running back lost two fumbles this week, bringing his total to three through two games. Ross is a hard runner with a lot of talent, but the Terps have two other obviously capable options in Albert Reid and the newly-returned Wes Brown. Given that and Ross's early problems with ball security, it would be a surprise if his workload didn't decrease to some degree against West Virginia.
Maryland tight ends as pass-catchers: Tight end figures to be a position of strength for Maryland, but for the second consecutive week to start the year, that group was uninvolved in the passing offense. P.J. Gallo, Andrew Isaacs and Derrick Hayward have combined for zero receptions through two games. None of the three was targeted against James Madison, and none shows up in the box score or play-by-play lines against South Florida.