Maryland football got off to a horrific start Saturday night against Charlotte, going down 14-0 before some fans could even find their seats.
But the Terps rallied thereafter, preventing the 49ers from generating any offense and mustering 38 consecutive points of their own en route to a 38-20 victory.
Regardless, it was a sloppy performance from the Terps, who have plentiful strides to make with Big Ten play on the horizon.
Here’s how each position group performed under the lights against Charlotte.
Taulia Tagovailoa struggled more than he should have against the 49ers’ defense. He lacked good decision-making and was inconsistent throughout. His first pass of the game was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. He didn’t have a positive throw of more than two yards until the final play of the first quarter.
Provided he gradually got better as the game waned on, the Terps also shifted to a more conservative, run-heavy game plan in the second half. For better measure, the redshirt senior tacked on another ill-advised interception in the fourth quarter.
Backup Billy Edwards Jr. found the end zone on a quarterback sneak in the second half, bumping this grade up half a letter.
But Tagovailoa will need to clean up his act in the coming weeks.
Entering halftime, Maryland had just 23 total rushing yards. It finished with 243.
The Terps can thank Roman Hemby for that staggering increase, whose second-half explosion led to the best game of his career. He finished the game with a career-best 217 scrimmage yards.
Also, Colby McDonald finished with 73 yards and a score.
There weren’t as many timely drops from the Terps’ receivers Saturday as they had against Towson. When Tagovailoa had time in the pocket and made accurate throws against Charlotte, they made solid plays.
Kaden Prather was the best of the bunch Saturday, totaling 80 yards and four catches with a touchdown. He probably should’ve had another score and an extra 30 yards, but he was called for a questionable pass interference at the end of the first half.
Corey Dyches once again led all Terps with six catches. He only managed 31 yards, and it would have been encouraging to see him establish himself more in the red zone, but it was still a solid showing from Dyches.
Freshmen Rico Walker and Preston Howard also combined for 44 snaps, with Walker being the beneficiary of a 16-yard grab in the second quarter.
It’s clear that the offensive line’s play is going to need a week-by-week evaluation. Last week’s performance was poor, to put it simply. Against Charlotte, the unit was a bit better. For the first 15 minutes, it was getting bullied by the 49ers’ front. But as the game continued, and the game plan shifted toward feeding Roman Hemby, it was solid.
There’s room to improve in passing situations, but the gaps created in the run game were encouraging — albeit against Charlotte.
Also of important note, there was much less rotation up front compared to last week, with Delmar Glaze, Conor Fagan, Corey Bullock, Amelio Moran, and Aric Harris seeing a large majority of snaps.
It was not the prettiest first quarter, but it was a strong last 45 minutes from the Terps’ defensive line. Between the second and third quarters, the 49ers’ run-heavy offense couldn’t manage anything, netting just 79 yards during that span.
Maryland’s defensive front really put the pressure on toward the end of the third quarter, and it was rewarded early in the fourth when Donnell Brown recorded the Terps’ first interception of the season.
Jaishawn Barham showed a national audience why he’s one of the best linebackers in the nation. Once the second half hit, he became the best defender on the field, making his presence felt with two thundering sacks.
Caleb Wheatland tacked on six tackles as well. In all, it was a clean and dominant performance from the Terps’ linebackers.
The secondary started the game by allowing a 40-yard touchdown pass after a broken coverage. But it cleaned up its act after that, allowing just 126 yards in the final three quarters.
Beau Brade and Tarheeb Still had the first- and third-most tackles on the team, respectively, combining for 12.
Minus the mishap on the first drive, it was a great showing for Maryland’s secondary.
Jack Howes was Maryland’s best player in the first half, accounting for all of its points in the opening 30 minutes. He nailed all three of his field goals — including a 45-yarder to end the first half. The game very well could have taken a different direction if he wasn’t perfect.
Unfortunately for the Terps, the return game was very sloppy. Octavian Smith Jr. had trouble catching kickoffs and didn’t look all that comfortable on any of his returns in the first half. Meanwhile, Tarheeb Still looked hesitant at times returning punts.
This grade should be an A+, but some sloppiness from the returners keeps it at an A.