Maryland football is no longer undefeated after a 38-14 drubbing by Penn State. The Terps fell behind early and then lost their starting quarterback as a three-point halftime deficit turned into a 24-point defeat.
We’ll have a lot more to say about this game and what it means for the Terps going forward, but here’s an instant assessment of some positive and negative takeaways from Saturday.
Lorenzo Harrison, running back. The true freshman was the only member of Maryland’s offense whose early-season success carried over into this game. He ran for a team-high 76 yards on six carries. A 44-yard burst was most of it, but Harrison averaged over six yards a carry outside of that. However, his streak of four consecutive games with a touchdown has come to a close.
Tyrrell Pigrome, quarterback. He’s clearly a playmaker at the college level, but he’s clearly not a good enough passer to be a team’s best option right now. Pigrome entered the game after Hills’ injury late in the first half and immediately rushed for a touchdown; he had some impressive scrambles in the second half, too. But his 10-yard overthrow of Levern Jacobs on a fourth-down heave in the final quarter shows he’s not a complete package yet. This has pretty much been the consensus for a while, so there’s no reason to be too high or low on him at the moment.
Ty Johnson, running back. After a Madden-esque 204 yards on seven carries in the Big Ten opener, Johnson rushed for a meager 11 yards on five attempts. However, the conference’s reigning offensive player of the week did take a short pass from Hills to the end zone for a 66-yard score.
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This was by far Maryland’s longest play of the day. The sophomore didn’t necessarily have a bad game, but it was an emphatic return to mortality.
Run defense. If you doubled Maryland’s passing yardage total and added it to the Terps’ rushing yards, the sum would still be less than Penn State’s 372 yards on the ground. Saquon Barkley (202 yards on 32 carries, both career highs) was in peak form, and there’s only so much that can be done about that, but Trace McSorley’s 81-yard performance is worrisome. Maryland has struggled to contain mobile quarterbacks this season. McSorley scrambled for several first downs, including one on what looked like a designed quarterback draw on 3rd-and-13.
Pass protection. Penn State had four sacks, and both of Perry Hills’ turnovers were pressure-induced. He was hit on a throw that became an intercepted floater, and later fumbled after being completely blindsided. Right guardMaurice Shelton’s injury didn’t help, but the problems were there from the start of the game. The offensive line didn’t look completely cohesive, and the running backs and tight ends were suspect in this phase of the game too. We won’t necessarily assign blame to anyone in particular because pass protection is a group effort, but just about everyone here played poorly.
Downfield passing. If you pretend that Johnson’s 66-yard touchdown was a run, then Maryland was 9-of-15 for a dismal 34 passing yards. When teams fall multiple scores behind, it usually takes a strong aerial attack to bring them back. The Terps just threw short passes, with the occasional downfield attempts being unsuccessful. This area has never been Maryland’s strength, but it can’t be so nonexistent going forward.