Maryland football failed to get the job done on the road against undefeated No. 17 Minnesota this past weekend, to say the least.
The Terrapins lost 52-10 after a slow start resulted in a 28-3 deficit at halftime, which was simply too much to overcome.
From lackluster quarterback play by Maryland to failures on defense, here’s a look at how the Gophers ended up with a convincing win.
Minnesota’s Wildcat sets were unstoppable
As mentioned heading into this matchup, the Golden Gophers have the ability to switch things up and run the wildcat, which was on full display against Maryland.
Wide receiver Seth Green — all 6’4, 240 pounds of him — took most of the snaps out of the wildcat Saturday, finishing with 34 yards and two touchdowns off of six rushes.
The power runs and push that the Minnesota offensive line were able to generate made it easy for Green to run these sets, both to the outside and up the middle.
The wildcat sets were used as more of a change-of-pace formation by the Golden Gophers, coming after long pass plays or rushes to keep the Maryland defense off-balanced. Green never threw the ball, but he didn’t have to, gaining yards at will with his feet.
Rushing, rushing and more rushing
The Minnesota rushing game didn’t just stop with the wildcat sets, as the Golden Gophers ran for 321 yards — the most that Maryland has given up in a game all season.
The previous high was the 198 yards gained on the ground by Penn State in the 59-0 Friday Night thrashing in College Park on September 29.
Maryland really failed in all aspects of its run defense on Saturday. As seen above, Rodney Smith was able to continue the trend of pounding the ball down the middle and jumped over the massive offensive line ahead of him for a score, while running back Treyson Potts was able to get goal line work late in the game and carry it around the edge.
Maryland’s defense really needs to find ways to neutralize offenses, because it doesn’t have the size to battle many Big Ten teams up the middle and getting closed off or sealed on the edge makes rushing way too easy for opponents — especially in goal line situations.
Maryland’s secondary failed to keep things balanced
While the rushing defense failed to do its job, the Maryland secondary didn’t do its job in trying to neutralize the pass either.
Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan finished the game completing 12-of-21 passes for 138 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, while backup Jacob Clark completed his only pass for a 39 yard gain.
The failures started early with Morgan throwing a ball up into a one-on-one battle between Maryland cornerback Marcus Lewis and Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman. With the ball in the air, Bateman was able to turn back toward the pylon and use his body to create separation, leaving Lewis to try and fight from behind.
Late in the game, it was Clark throwing up a perfectly-placed ball toward the front pylon for wide receiver Harry Van Dyne to haul in. Van Dyne was able to get past Maryland cornerback Lavonte Gator down the sideline, and the safety help from cornerback Fofie Bazzie over-the-top was a few steps too late — but also helped prevent a score.
Maryland’s defense needs to shore up its coverage issues if it plans to stay in games down the tough stretch to end this season. It certainly cannot have instances of defensive backs falling down in one-on-one coverage to give up scores over the middle.
Interceptions plagued the Terrapins
Maryland quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome has had his struggles with turnovers in 2019, and it was no different against Minnesota.
And Maryland football has already thrown an interception... pic.twitter.com/AHUGiIMmjG— Lila Bromberg (@lilabbromberg) October 26, 2019
Part of the reason that the Terrapins struggled to get going on offense was because of a quick interception on the first drive that led to a score by the Golden Gophers.
Pigrome tried to hit Dontay Demus Jr. over the middle, but the tipped ball ultimately landed in the hands of safety Antoine Winfield Jr. and returned 30 yards into the redzone.
For the second time today, Minnesota gets an interception off the hands of wide receiver Dontay Demus Jr. pic.twitter.com/bnElM9BHR2— Lila Bromberg (@lilabbromberg) October 26, 2019
Later in the second quarter — already down 21 points — Pigrome and Demus failed to connect again, this time resulting in a long pick-six for Minnesota, essentially putting the nail in the coffin before halftime.
These throws are supposed to be simple for quarterbacks to make and receivers to haul in, but the Terrapins really seem to be struggling. At the least, receivers like Demus need to make sure they tip balls down towards the ground, rather than up into the air, in order to avoid turnovers.
The bottom line
This was quite the poor performance by Maryland, and it came in just about all phases of the game.
While quarterback Tyler DeSue coming in during the second half resulted in some movement of the ball and the only touchdown of the day, there’s no reason why Pigrome and Josh Jackson can’t shore up their mistakes and bring the same level of energy.
The Terrapin defense simply got shown up by the Golden Gophers, exposed in all facets.
While it’s technically still possible to reach bowl eligibility, this season has ultimately become more of an experimental test for head coach Mike Locksley and his staff. Now they’ll search for players that are still all in on the program that deserve to play in the biggest matchups of the season coming up.