Maryland football can rest just a little bit easier knowing it didn't go winless in conference play this season. The Terps picked up their third win of the year against Rutgers Saturday in their most entertaining game of the season.
After trailing 24-3 in the first half, Maryland staged a steady comeback to take the Scarlet Knights down. This win certainly doesn't absolve the team of its horrible record (3-9) and underwhelming performance this season but hey, it's something.
As always, here's a (non-exhaustive) look at who's up and who's down after the win.
Mike Locksely, interim head coach. Locksley got his first win as head coach of Maryland in what was likely his last opportunity. After five straight losses under Locksley, the players finally got to dump Gatorade on him after the victory. He didn't lose the team Saturday after Rutgers jumped out to an early lead, and his playcalling was solid after some initial weirdness where he kept trying long passes with Perry Hills. His emphasis on fun brought out the best in his players, and he clearly has the support of the locker room. Locksley was put in hard situation, and he made the best of it without publicly campaigning for the head coaching job at all. Still, it's unlikely he gets that interim tag removed.
Maryland running backs. After his 250-yard, 3-touchdown performance in last week's loss to Indiana, Brandon Ross put the Terps ahead for good with an 80-yard run in the fourth quarter. He finished with 173 yards on the day, powering the Terps to victory when they desperately needed it. Fullback Kenneth Goins also chipped in, sprinting 42 yards for the longest run of his career in the fourth quarter to give Maryland its first lead of the game. Freshman Ty Johnson had a uniquely amazing performance. His first carry came on a pitch from Caleb Rowe on an option that he took 43 yards to the house. His second carry was a handoff that he ran 44 yards to the end zone at the end of the third quarter. He didn't have a third carry.
Caleb Rowe, quarterback. After what's been an extremely tough season for the redshirt junior, he's now played two consecutive games without throwing an interception. He only completed 50 percent of his passes Saturday, but his 239 yards were good for the most passing yards by a Maryland quarterback since conference play started. Four-star quarterback commit Dwayne Haskins still has over two months until national signing day, so it's good to see that Maryland's quarterback situation has a glimmer of hope if Haskins doesn't end up in College Park. However, it is important to note this performance did come against the second-worst pass defense in the country, according to S&P+.
Yannick Ngakoue, defensive end. After taking the program's career lead in sacks last week, Ngakoue was mostly neutralized by Rutgers. He did register 2 quarterback hits Saturday, but only had 1 tackle and didn't get a sack. With the great season he's had, Ngakoue could very well be headed to the NFL, but the junior does have one year of eligibility remaining. He isn't high on draft boards yet, but he could certainly see a jump in his draft stock, seeing as he only trails Penn State's Carl Nassib on the nation's sack leaderboard.
Maryland's secondary. The Terps were playing without Will Likely, who is by far their best defensive back, and it showed. Rutgers's Leonte Carroo burned several members of the secondary for six catches of longer than 15 yards, finishing with 183. Chris Laviano threw for 344 yards on 21-of-33, his second-highest yardage of the season. True freshman Darnell Savage had a rough day for the Terps, but Maryland didn't have any other options to throw out there. Beyond this year's starters, the cupboard is bare for Maryland's defensive backfield. Starters Anthony Nixon, A.J. Hendy and Sean Davis all played their last game in a Maryland uniform, and its not unreasonable to think Will Likely could jump to the NFL a year early, too.