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Four takeaways from No. 21 Maryland football’s 20-17 loss to Temple

There was a lot of bad from the Terps in their upset defeat at the hands of the Owls. Here’s what I took away.

Maryland football at Temple Sarah Sopher / Testudo Times

After two dominant victories, No. 21 Maryland football had its worst showing of the season today with a 20-17 loss to Temple.

Following the loss, there a few things to unpack. Here’s some of the biggest takeaways from today’s game.

1. Josh Jackson didn’t look like himself

To be fair to the transfer signal caller, Jackson was under assault all afternoon against Temple (more on that later). But the redshirt junior didn’t want to make any excuses for his performance, taking full responsibility postgame.

“It all comes back to me,” Jackson said. “There [were] good play calls, it was just me not executing very well.”

It all started on Maryland’s opening drive of the game. The Terps were progressing into Temple territory, but Jackson threw an interception on a ball intended for wide receiver Dontay Demus Jr.

“We were kind of in and out of being in a rhythm,” Jackson said. “And obviously on the first drive I throw a pick, which was all my fault. It was just a horrible ball.”

He finished the day completing just 15-of-38 (39.5 percent) pass attempts for 183 yards and a touchdown to go along with that pick, easily his worst game as a Terp. And not only did he miss throws, he also didn’t make the requisite reads.

“Looking at it from on the sideline where I have views, some of the decision making — that he made great decisions in the first two games — I think there were some hesitancy by him,” Locksley said. “And I think some of the things he predetermined. Temple did a great job trying to disguise their safeties and their looks.

“But ultimately, we’ve got to have really good eye discipline at the quarterback position and put your eyes on the things you need to see to make the right decision,” Locksley said.

2. The offensive line was disastrous

In the first two games of the season, Maryland’s offensive line played extremely well. The rotating cast of characters surrendered just one sack through 120 minutes of play, keeping Jackson upright. Sure, there were a few quarterback hits mixed in there, but the unit did its job and then some in pass protection.

Against Temple, that was far from the case. Jackson was sacked four times for a combined loss of 20 yards, derailing drives before they could really begin. But those weren’t the only times that the line failed to protect their signal caller. While they technically weren’t categorized as sacks, Jackson “carried” the ball 10 times for a net of 20 yards. Some of those were designed runs, but overall, he had to room to operate all day long. It didn’t help that starting right guard Terrance Davis went down with an injury midway through the game, forcing Austin Fontaine to step in.

And it wasn’t just Jackson that felt the effects of poor offensive line play. The story of the game was Maryland’s inability to convert in short-yardage and fourth down situations. Locksley preaches getting the ball into his best players’ hands, and on a number of occasions, he gave the rock to Anthony McFarland Jr., twice within the 1-yard line. The redshirt sophomore running back never had a chance.

3. Penalties were aplenty

Following Maryland’s 63-20 demolition of Syracuse last week, head coach Mike Locksley expressed his disappointment in his team’s sloppy play in regards to penalties.

In that game, the Terps committed just five penalties for a total of 30 yards.

Against Temple, Maryland was actually sloppy. The Terps committed nine penalties for 88 yards, and most of them weren’t of the “no harm, no foul” variety. Time and time again, a mental mistake from the defense in particular put them in a hole they could not work out of.

That was extremely evident on the Owls’ go-ahead touchdown drive midway through the fourth quarter. On a first-and-10 at Maryland’s 27-yard line, Temple quarterback Anthony Russo threw an incomplete pass intended for Branden Mack. But Tino Ellis committed defensive pass interference, and the Owls were moved up 15 yards.

But the bigger error came four plays later. On a third-and-14 from Maryland’s 16-yard line, Russo once again was unable to complete a pass for Mack. This time, Ellis was called for holding, giving Temple a first-and-goal opportunity from the 8-yard line. Two plays later, the Owls took a 20-15 lead.

And it wasn’t just in-game mistakes. Following a blocked extra point, there was a scuffle between the two teams that resulted in a pair of offsetting unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. Mike Shinsky was the only Terp flagged, but a number were involved in a scrum.

“We’re not going to be the team that talks to the officials or talks to the other team,” Locksley said. “And I’ll get that corrected. That’s on me as the head coach to make sure that we’re going to be a disciplined team, but discipline precedes winning. And today we had a bunch of penalties.”

4. The kicking game left a lot to be desired

It all started when Joseph Petrino attempted a 42-yard field goal with over two minutes to go in the first quarter. The sophomore placekicker pulled his kick wide left, ending a once-promising drive with zero points to show for it. It wasn’t known at the time, but Petrino reportedly injured his groin on that play.

That helped to explain one of the most bewildering plays of the game that would follow, but it was still horrific nonetheless. Just over two minutes into the second quarter, the Terps had an opportunity on Temple’s 16-yard line to add three points on the scoreboard. Given Petrino’s injury, Maryland couldn’t kick a field goal, but Locksley dialed up a field goal fake anyways. Simply put, it did not work.

And then late in the third quarter, following Jackson’s touchdown to Tyler Mabry, the extra point was blocked. Instead of having a 16-13 lead entering the fourth, the Terps led by just two. It didn’t end up mattering, as Temple scored a go-ahead touchdown. But still, it was another failure from the special teams unit.