Maryland is about to play its first football game at home since Thanksgiving weekend. The Terps host Towson at noon Saturday morning on BTN.
In case you hadn’t heard, Maryland started DJ Durkin’s second season with a 51-41 win over Texas in Austin. We’ve been reliving that upset all week. However, the victory came at a price, as quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome is out for the season and defensive end Jesse Aniebonam might well be.
So now it’s the Kasim Hill show. His first start comes against an FCS team that went 4-7 a year ago and started this season with a 10-0 victory over Morgan State last week. It’s a big day for Jacquille Veii in particular, as he played a season for Towson before transferring back to Maryland. The football game isn’t expected to be close, but it’s impossible to set those things in stone.
Towson Tigers (1-0)
2016 record: 4-7, 3-5 CAA
Head coach Rob Ambrose. He’s been the man since 2009, with his stint highlighted by a 2013 trip to the FCS national title game. Ambrose played quarterback and wideout at Towson from 1990-93, and the Tigers are an even 48-48 in his head coaching tenure.
Players to know
Shane Simpson, RS sophomore, running back, 5’9/200, No. 13. Simpson led the Tigers with 784 rushing yards last season, and he was Towson’s leading rusher and receiver, scoring the only touchdown last week. Maryland allowed just 98 yards on the ground against Texas, and hopes for another strong performance at home. Simpson was also Towson’s ace on kick and punt returns a season ago, so stopping him will be a key for the Terps.
Monty Fenner, RS junior, defensive back, 6’0/190, No. 8. The Virginia native started the final six games of last season, leading Towson with seven pass breakups. Fenner started his 2017 season with a five-tackle performance that included an interception, which he returned 32 yards.
Defense. Towson has not given up a point all season. Against Morgan State, the Tigers racked up 13 tackles for loss, three sacks and three interceptions. It’s a small sample size, and Maryland just put up 51 points on Texas, but Towson is off to a strong start on this side of the ball.
Offense. Towson has only scored 10 points this season, and the Tigers recorded just 102 yards of total offense against Morgan State. They used two quarterbacks in the win, and their primary signal caller from last year, redshirt junior Ellis Knudson, is playing tight end now.
Three things to watch
1. It’s Kasim Hill’s first start. The true freshman played the final quarter of the Texas game, going 3-for-3 for 44 yards and adding a rushing touchdown. Saturday will be a different stage, as it’s a home game against an FCS team, but with Pigrome gone for the year, this is the guy. It’s less a question of how he’ll respond than of what qualities he shows in his first extended college action.
2. How long do the starters play? In an ideal world, Maryland is in cruise control by the second half and can give some reps to its second string. At the same time, the Terps’ first unit hasn’t been together long, especially will Hill leading the way. So it’ll be interesting to see what the staff decides is the right balance point.
3. Which role players show strides? Entering Week 1 against Howard last year, Lorenzo Harrison wasn’t listed on the running back depth chart. He then led the Terps in rushing yards and picked up his first career touchdown that day, jump-starting a breakout freshman campaign. A similar performance could be in store for the likes of Anthony McFarland, Tahj Capehart or Bryce Brand. (With Aniebonam’s injury, though, Brand could be in the mix for a regular role.)
S&P+: Maryland 41, Towson 16
Me: Maryland 44, Towson 10