Maryland football is back in the win column.
It wasn’t necessarily pretty, as Maryland head coach Locksley put it after the 38-35 win over Indiana, but the Terps did what they had to do to snap their string of losses that stretched to three straight. Maryland closed out the Hoosiers in College Park to capture its first win since Sept. 25, when the program took down Kent State.
Locksley’s program is now 5-3 with four games remaining, one win away from bowl eligibility. Let’s take a look at how each position did in Maryland’s first and only win in October.
Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa had his best game since the loss of star wide receiver Dontay Demus Jr. who was ruled out for the season on Oct. 5. The junior managed 419 passing yards, the third-most in program history for a single game performance. The last Terps’ 400-yard passing game came on Nov. 27, 2010.
Tagovailoa could’ve even had a better day due to drops and a few missed passes, but he finished 26-for-40 and tossed two touchdowns in what was otherwise a stellar performance at home. And most importantly, he didn’t commit a single turnover.
234 of Tagovailoa’s yards came in his strong second half, which propelled Maryland to the win. It’s a great sign for Maryland if Tagovailoa can get back to the way he was during the first four games of the season, and the performance against Indiana was a promising step in the right direction.
While Maryland’s passing game was more than solid, the same cannot be said about the Terps’ rushing attack. Maryland certainly wasn’t afraid to run the ball as it had 46 total rushes. Redshirt senior running back Tayon Fleet-Davis and senior Challen Faamatau took up 37 of those attempts, but the duo combined for 84 rushing yards, with a combined 2.3 yards per carry clip.
The only area on the field that Maryland seemed to excel in on the ground was on Indiana’s one-yard line. The Terps’ first three touchdowns all came from one-yard away, with Fleet-Davis getting the first and Faamatau handling the next two. Along with red-zone efficiency, backs also factored into the passing game. Fleet-Davis had three catches for 64 yards, a season-high for him in yardage, and Faamatau even chipped in with one catch for 37 yards.
The three rushing scores and reaching over the century mark in receiving yards is just what Maryland needed to bounce back from its injury losses in the wide receiver group. Overall, the running backs’ crucial production in the red zone and in the passing game was somewhat able to make up for the lack of results on the ground.
What an afternoon it was for a wide receiver corps that has recently struggled without two of its top three weapons in Demus Jr. and senior Jeshaun Jones. The breakout star of the game was senior Carlos Carriere, who entered Saturday with just seven catches and 51 yards.
Carriere absolutely exploded for Maryland, reeling in a team-high eight catches for 134 yards and two touchdowns. Carriere’s second touchdown catch in the fourth quarter was the show-stopper after the senior magically evaded a few Hoosiers en route to the end zone.
Sophomore Rakim Jarrett was the next-best receiver for the Terps, 88 yards off five receptions. Jarrett also drew two defensive pass interference calls. Marcus Fleming got in the mix as well and he added 70 yards, including a 38-yard reception. The wide receivers combined to have 316 yards out of Tagovailoa’s 419 in what was a very strong game from that group.
For the second straight game, the tight ends group didn’t nearly produce as much as it did earlier in the season. Senior tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo ended with just two catches for the second straight game on just two targets. Okonkwo managed just two yards in total, tying his second-lowest output of the season.
The stats may not tell the full story, though, because Okonkwo drew a defensive pass interference call in the end zone in the first quarter, then Maryland scored its first touchdown from the one-yard line. Despite the penalty, it was still a very quiet day for Okonkwo, who had 18 catches for 175 yards entering the game before.
Sophomore Corey Dyches has also taken a back seat in the passing game. Dyches went without a reception for the second consecutive game after he tallied at least two catches in each of the prior five games.
Maryland’s offensive line has taken a major dip in production over the last four or so weeks, and the performance against Indiana wasn’t necessarily much different. Tagovailoa was on the move a lot in the pocket and was pressured quickly often. If it weren't for his mobility at times, things would’ve looked a lot bleaker for the offense as a whole.
Tagovailoa ended up being sacked just two times, but it certainly could have been more. Indiana also finished nine tackles for a loss, with a bunch of those stemming from Maryland’s poor rushing attack that averaged an abysmal 1.7 yards per carry.
Penalties were also an issue with the offensive line. The group committed three false starts and one holding penalty in the first half.
The defensive line continues to be a growing area of concern for Maryland’s defense. Dating back to the loss to Ohio State, the Terps’ rushing defense, especially at the line of scrimmage, hasn’t been able to stop opposing rushers.
Indiana finished with 204 yards on 42 carries, good enough for nearly five yards per rush. The Hoosiers did an excellent job in the run game getting to the edges, something that Maryland had trouble with when it faced Minnesota. Running back Stephen Carr shredded Maryland’s run defense, whether it be up the gut or around the outside, as he compiled 21 carries for 136 yards and two touchdowns.
Despite having problems with containing the rush attack, Maryland did make some stops when it needed to on third down and the defensive line produced two sacks. It wasn’t a good day from the defensive line by any means, and it'll hope to bounce back next weekend.
McCulley is a talented mobile quarterback, but Maryland’s linebackers did an excellent job of limiting his rush attempts out of the pocket.
There were times were McCulley tried to make his way past the line of scrimmage after finding no room through the air. Often, he was met with resistance from the defensive line and the linebackers that did a good job of stepping up to clog up space when they needed to. As a result, McCulley had 11 rushes for just four total yards, as the defense made him a much more one-dimensional player.
Sophomore Ruben Hyppolite II and Ahmad McCullough led the way for the linebackers, combining for eight total tackles. It was an average day for the linebacker group, but they did nothing too outstanding to garner much of a positive grade.
It was a pretty mixed day for a secondary that faced a true freshman at quarterback for the Hoosiers. Quarterback Donaven McCulley finished 14-for-25 with 242 yards and two touchdowns through the air.
Defensive backs Tarheeb Still and Jordan Mosley performed well for Maryland, combining for 11 tackles and four pass breakups. Junior Nick Cross and Still each had a sack as well. There were definitely a few missed assignments that led to a few wide-open Indiana players on some plays, especially late in the game when the Hoosiers were desperate for points. However, a lot of the damage on offense came from Indiana’s rushing attack.
Maryland’s defensive backs also dropped a few catchable interceptions, which would’ve likely extended the Terps’ lead on the scoreboard. Despite the what-ifs, it was the second straight game that an opposing quarterback threw for under 250 yards against the secondary.
There have been more than a few times this season that the special teams have struggled. This was one of those games. In the second quarter, junior punter Anthony Pecorella had his punt blocked, which put Indiana in a prime position in Maryland’s red zone.
Maryland had more punt troubles later in the game. Indiana perfectly executed a fake punt in the third quarter on a fourth-and-6 that once again placed the Hoosiers in the Terps’ territory.
Senior kick Joseph Petrino also had an iffy day kicking field goals, finishing 1-for-2 on the afternoon. He missed from 40-yards out and hit from 41. It was a questionable day for Maryland’s special teams and it’ll look to clean up those mistakes next week against Penn State.