The Maryland football team is is halfway to qualifying for a bowl game after beating UCF on Saturday night, and now the Terps get a bye week before opening Big Ten play against Purdue. The win wasn’t pretty, and definitely raised some concerns about how Maryland will perform against Big Ten teams (that aren’t Purdue). But hey, the Terps are 3-0 nonetheless.
Tyrrell Pigrome’s 24-yard walk-off dash in overtime was thrilling, and it put a cap on a game that Maryland struggled through. After taking it to FIU and Howard to start the season, Maryland isn’t going to be blowing many more teams out.
The team is certainly more watchable than it was last season. That’s not really in doubt. This week is going to be about figuring out what we know about Maryland, whatever that may be.
Maryland football vs. Howard, FIU and UCF: what we saw
- Alarming signs for Maryland’s pass protection. Maryland was able to establish a rushing attack late against UCF, and that saved the team’s chances. But yikes. There were long stretches where the Terps couldn’t get anything going, and the team used several new offensive line combinations. If UCF can do this, what will happen against Big Ten teams? True freshman guard Terrance Davis was in there by the end. Will we see more of him against Purdue?
- Perry Hills, solid quarterback. He’s completed 61 percent of his passes, and most importantly, he hasn’t thrown an interception yet. He was under pressure on almost every dropback against UCF, which brings his stats down slightly, but he’s mostly done what’s been asked of him so far. He might struggle against tougher defenses, but this game plan is tailored to his abilities, and he’s Maryland’s best option. However, he went down with a shoulder injury at the end of Saturday’s game, and it’s unclear how serious that injury is. If he can’t go, Pigrome is probably the next guy up. That’s both exciting and terrifying.
- A lot of running backs doing a lot of good things. The rotation of Lorenzo Harrison, Ty Johnson, Trey Edmunds and Kenneth Goins Jr. has been efficient and varied, averaging 6.7 yards per carry. They each provide different strengths, and should continue to get carries when Wes Brown returns from his suspension against Purdue. Freshman Jake Funk didn’t receive a carry against UCF, and probably won’t have a big role going forward. He’ll still be a part of the team’s future, however, as Edmunds, Goins and Brown all graduate after this season.
- Maryland’s run defense was okay, but not great. The Terps showed some alarming inability to stop the run for stretches against FIU, but was solid against UCF. The Knights only averaged 3.6 yards per carry, which is probably fine. However, Maryland’s going to face some scary rushing offenses in conference play, starting with Penn State on Oct. 8.
- The Terps’ pass defense seems fine. So far. UCF’s freshman quarterback had more success than Maryland probably would have liked, but still ended up only completing 58 percent of his passes. A secondary with Will Likely, JC Jackson and Alvin Hill is still talented enough to seem promising.
- Special teams are good. Teams aren’t punting to Likely all that much, but Maryland still holds a 14.7-to-4-yard punt return average. Maryland’s average starting field position has been pretty good, and punter Wade Lees has done his job. Out of his 16 punts, 15 have been fair caught or downed inside the 20-yard line.
We usually preview Maryland’s next opponent in this space, but we’ll do that next week. Enjoy the bye week.