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Grading Maryland football’s position groups after its win over Indiana

The Terps moved to 5-2 on the season.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 15 Maryland at Indiana Photo by Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

In a nail-biting game that was closer than Terps fans were hoping for, Maryland football beat Indiana, 38-33, on the road to bring its record to 5-2.

Despite entering as double-digit underdogs, the Hoosiers led as late as the fourth quarter but were unable to hold off a late Maryland rally that eventually sealed the game.

Here’s how each of the Terps’ position groups fared.


The quarterback position garnered headlines following Saturday’s game for all the wrong reasons. Taulia Tagovailoa was injured early in the fourth quarter, and Terps fans continue to anxiously wait for his status moving forward to be announced.

Before his injury, Tagovailoa was active He passed for 270 yards and accounted for three total touchdowns, avoiding any turnovers. Tagovailoa was outside the pocket a lot, sometimes on option plays but oftentimes on scrambles. He didn’t get much help from his receivers downfield, but sometimes got happy feet and left the pocket early.

After coming into the game following Tagovailoa’s injury, Billy Edwards Jr. looked, if anything, very composed considering the circumstances. He didn’t complete a pass but was very effective in the running game, rushing for 53 yards and a touchdown. His highlight of the night came on a big 31-yard run on a read option to set up a go-ahead score.

If Tagovailoa is out for a while, Edwards Jr. proved that he is capable of leading the offense.

Grade: B+

Running back

Unlike most of the Terps’ other games, Maryland’s running back performance was a one-man show against Indiana. Antwain Littleton II, Colby McDonald and Ramon Brown were all pretty much ineffective.

Luckily for the Terps, they could fall back on Roman Hemby to carry the load. Hemby had 132 yards from scrimmage and a short rushing touchdown, effectively sealing the game with his play once Tagovailoa went down. His presence in all aspects of the game — whether it be rushing, receiving or pass-blocking — has continued to impress this season.

Maryland would’ve surely liked for its depth at the running back position to be more prevalent Saturday, but Hemby’s performance was great nonetheless.

Grade: B

Wide receiver

Probably the most disappointing position group on Maryland’s team so far this season, the wide receivers were not impressive against the Hoosiers. For much of the game, it seemed like Tagovailoa sat in the pocket waiting for someone to get open but nobody did, forcing him to scramble and try and extend the play. Against one of the worst defenses in the Big Ten, a receiving corps as talented as Maryland’s should be able to get separation with ease.

Rakim Jarrett and Jeshaun Jones both had drops too. Jones led the team in receptions and did make some nice plays, but Jarrett was nowhere to be found for most of the evening.

The bright spots from Saturday’s game were Dontay Demus Jr. and Jacob Copeland. Demus Jr. finally scored his first touchdown of the season, and he could’ve had another but seemed to be dragged down in the end zone, although the officials didn’t throw a flag. Copeland was Tagovailoa’s most reliable wideout again, which has quickly become a motif, although if Tagovailoa has to miss extended time it remains to be seen how Copeland will gel with Edwards Jr.

Still, it was another unexciting week from Maryland’s wide receivers.

Grade: C

Tight end

The tight ends were the Terps’ most reliable position group of the day once again and have been one of the most pleasant surprises for the offense this season.

Corey Dyches and CJ Dippre combined for five catches for a total of 59 yards, with Dippre finding the end zone after athletically hurdling two Indiana defenders. He was also very effective when blocking for Hemby.

Dyches was also impressive, not scoring but still making some important plays, including an eye-popping combination of jukes and broken tackles to convert a third-and-2 midway through the first quarter. He is oft-considered undersized for his position but frequently punches above his weight and has a knack for brushing off defenders.

Both of Maryland’s tight ends may have legitimate professional aspirations if they continue to play at a high level.

Grade: A

Offensive line

Maryland’s offensive line was short-handed against Indiana, as starting left tackle and potential first-round NFL draft pick Jaelyn Duncan missed the game due to a family emergency. As has been mentioned previously, Tagovailoa was forced to scramble a lot, some by design but also frequently because of pressure from blitzes that the Terps were unable to pick up.

While the blocking for Hemby was solid, especially in the fourth quarter, the offensive line continued to struggle in short-yardage situations, getting stuffed at the line of scrimmage on multiple occasions. There were also a trio of penalties on the group, most notably a fourth-quarter false start — part of which could be attributed to the new quarterback — that pushed Maryland back from the goal line and could have cost the team points.

The offensive line deserves credit for opening up holes for Hemby and protecting Tagovailoa despite missing its best overall blocker, but there were still mistakes to be corrected.

Grade: C+

Defensive line

Maryland’s defensive line was fantastic against the run but less consistent rushing the passer. The group did record two sacks, one from both Greg China-Rose and Tommy Akingbesote, but didn’t consistently get much pressure on Indiana quarterback Connor Bazelak against an unimposing Indiana offensive line. They did force him to throw the ball away and get two intentional grounding penalties, though.

Still, the effort against the run was outstanding. Maryland held the Hoosiers to just 36 rushing yards with a long of 14, showing the defensive line’s success stopping the opponent’s running backs at or near the line of scrimmage.

The strength of the Terps’ defensive line has always been its ability to stop the run rather than the pass. That was certainly on display against Indiana.

Grade: B


Like the defensive line, Maryland’s linebackers were very good against the run. Its pressure contributed to stopping any Hoosier from breaking into the second level.

A stark improvement from last game, the Terps did a good job of sealing off Bazelak’s check-downs, though Purdue’s personnel is more of a threat than Indiana’s.

Fa’Najae Gotay continued his growth and played the best game of any linebacker on the field, tying fellow LB Ahmad McCullough with six tackles and forcing a clutch fumble late in the game. Durell Nchami also showed up in a big way for the second consecutive week, leading the team with two tackles for loss.

Star freshman Jaishawn Barham went down injured in the game, but according to head coach Mike Locksley it was nothing more than a stinger and isn’t serious.

Grade: B-


It was an up-and-down game for Maryland’s secondary, which was missing top cornerback Jakorian Bennett.

Tarheeb Still and Deonte Banks came up with interceptions on Bazelak’s first throws of the first and second halves, respectively, but there were also many mistakes that led to points for the Hoosiers.

Indiana’s first touchdown of the game came on a play that Bazelak was pressured on but found running back Josh Henderson streaking wide open for a long score. Henderson was only so open because safety Dante Trader Jr. slipped and fell attempting to cover his route and nobody was there to pick him up.

The Hoosiers also managed to score late in the game on a possession that saw two passes go through defender’s hands and land in a receiver’s.

Throughout the game, Maryland was called for three defensive pass interferences, although one on Still was very questionable.

The unit had its moments and didn’t have any egregious blown coverages, but there was some left to be desired.

Grade: C+

Special teams

The Terps’ special teams were disappointing against Indiana, not necessarily because of execution issues but more so because of mental errors.

Chad Ryland was OK kicking, missing a field goal from 51 yards but converting from 36. Ryland didn’t allow a kickoff return all game long but did have one head-scratching kick; it appeared to be an attempt at a surprise onside attempt but went out-of-bounds and gave Indiana advantageous starting field position.

The tandem of Colton Spangler and Anthony Pecorella combined for a season-low 40.4 yards per punt, although Pecorella did have one beautiful punt that was downed at the one-yard line. The punt return game did have one major blunder, though, as Taizse Johnson was called for a hold that ended up extending an Indiana drive and allowing the Hoosiers to score.

The best player on special teams for the Terps was Octavian Smith Jr., who was explosive on kick returns. He averaged 30 yards per return, breaking off a 54-yarder to start the second half. He looks to have a very promising future ahead of him.

Grade: C-