Against Temple in Week 3, Maryland football looked like a completely different team than it did in the first two games of the season. From struggling to execute in the end zone to disruptive penalties, it wasn’t a pretty showing.
Here’s a closer look at some of what went wrong for the Terps against the Owls.
Overuse of man coverage
Coming into this matchup, Temple was quite excited to see that Maryland was so confident in its man defense through two matchups. Wide receivers Branden Mack and Isaiah Wright are tough to cover with their size and speed, plus other targets on the outside created mismatches across the board for the Terps.
Looking at the first touchdown of the day, Temple quarterback Anthony Russo was able to find Wright and lead a ball towards the pylon for the score. Maryland safety Jordan Mosley dropped down to cover Wright — since the Terps elected to not lock their top corner to the Owls’ top targets — and was beat after trying to read the route and taking a step towards the middle.
Help coverage from lone over-the-top safety Deon Jones was just too late to provide any true coverage due to Wright’s speed and the angle of the pass.
Maryland’s man coverage was also exposed for the final touchdown of the game, as the Owls used a delayed route to get a man open. Tight end Kenny Yeboah took on blocking Keandre Jones on the designed roll out play, but then peeled off into open space and secured the catch off of a not-so-perfect throw.
As seen from the backfield view, Jones and basically the entire Maryland defense bit onto the crash play and shifted to the Temple sideline. Once Mack came across the formation with his corner in tow, with no linebacker covering Yeboah, the play was all but over.
Inability to create a push on offense
When a team is as deep at the running back position as Maryland is, it is imperative that the offensive line is able to create leverage and control the game. Without that edge, backs have little to no chance at success and the passing game can suffer as well.
Against Temple, Maryland turned the ball over on downs after three drives that reached inside the Owls’ 10 yard line. Not being able to generate a push or make the right personnel/play call doomed the Terps in this matchup.
In terms of play calling, a majority of Maryland’s runs inside the 10-yard line were out of the shotgun formation, not giving Anthony McFarland Jr. and other backs much of a chance with the banged up line not getting a push.
Even when the fullback was called upon to block, the Temple defense was simple able to break through and stop Maryland from scoring. Linebacker Shaun Bradley was able to rush right through the A gap next to the center and meet McFarland in the backfield.
Penalties and not managing momentum
Along with the shortcomings already mentioned, a main culprit of the loss came from not controlling the momentum of the game.
Through the first two weeks against Howard and then-No. 21 Syracuse, Maryland was able to dictate the tempo and force opponents to chase them. The Owls were able to disrupt the Maryland offense thanks to controlling the line of scrimmage and did enough on offense to get the job done.
Penalties on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball hindered the Terps from gaining momentum and gave extra chances to the Owls, which they capitalized on. Coming into this matchup, Maryland had just 10 total penalties for 75 yards through two games.
Maryland had nine penalties for 88 yards Saturday, including a pair of calls — one pass interference and one holding — against Tino Ellis that led to the Yeboah touchdown which ended up being the difference.
The bottom line
Mike Locksley, his staff and the Terps team simply did not play its game on Saturday. With quarterback Josh Jackson staring down his targets from snap to pass, an inability to control the line of scrimmage, penalties, questionable play calling and more, it’s easy to say this was the worst of the first three “days” of this 12 day season — an analogy Locksley likes to use.
The good side is that Maryland now rolls into a bye week where it can work on finding that groove again. Two whole weeks to reset and prepare for a home matchup against a Penn State team that hasn’t looked as scary as years past provides a great chance for the Terps to bounce back on Sept. 27.