The Maryland football team beat Michigan State Saturday night in a game the Terps really needed to win. Michigan State isn’t very good this year, but Maryland now has a win against a Big Ten team that isn’t Purdue, so that’s at least worth something.
Here’s a non-exhaustive accounting of who’s up and who’s down after the Terps’ 28-17 win.
Perry Hills, Maryland quarterback. After missing last week’s game with a shoulder injury, he came in and operated Maryland’s offense at a high level. Hills was as accurate as he’s been all season, and didn’t make many mistakes, finishing with 200 yards on 21-of-27 passing (7.4 yards per attempt). Maybe he doesn’t deserve all the credit for Maryland’s (relative) offensive resurgence, but it’s probably not a coincidence that the team’s offensive fluidity returned when Hills did.
Lorenzo Harrison and Ty Johnson, Maryland running backs. Harrison was Maryland’s feature back on Saturday, and he made defenders miss all throughout the night. Meanwhile, Johnson provided crucial 40- and 44-yard runs that helped Maryland get on the board. The two combined for 220 of Maryland’s 247 rushing yards, and provided exactly the kind of support Hills and his receivers needed. Maryland’s offensive line obviously deserves credit here as well for opening up some holes for these guys to run through.
Maryland’s secondary. This unit isn’t going to be quite the same without Will Likely, and this performance was fine. Brian Lewerke finished 11-of-24 through the air for 156 yards (6.5 per attempt), and Alvin Hill picked him off in a key spot early as the Spartans were driving. Ravon Davis did a mostly solid job filling in for Will Likely at nickel corner, and Tino Ellis got plenty of playing time once again.
Maryland’s run defense. After a promising performance against Minnesota, this was about as bad as we’ve seen Maryland defend the run this season. LJ Scott and Gerald Holmes ran all over the defense, and MSU finished with 6.1 yards per carry. Maryland will face some fearsome rushing attacks in the coming weeks, and run defense is probably the team’s No. 1 concern moving forward.
Michigan State’s special teams coaching. Spartans’ head coach Mark Datonio’s decision to fake a field goal with only one second left in the first half was a head-scratcher. This didn’t come close to working.
If you look closely, MSU was actually pretty close to breaking this one.*— Ryan Connors (@RyanConnors_) October 23, 2016
*nope this made no sense at all pic.twitter.com/Wumc7pbSat
“I’m not sure if it was blocked correctly,” Dantonio said after the game. “I thought it was a good play and I thought they were set up for it. I thought with one second left and it being a 45-yard field goal and we were running the ball well enough and passing the ball well enough that I thought points would come. I was looking for a big payoff. That was the gamble we took and it’s on me.”