Maryland football’s offense once again went missing in action, during a 24-3 loss to Michigan State. Maryland’s defense fought to keep the team in the game, but after a fateful two plays saw the Terps go from the verge of a 17-10 score to being down 24-3, it was a wrap.
It was a rough week, start to finish, for Maryland who saw DJ Durkin reinstated as head coach, then fired in a reversal between Tuesday and Wednesday. Interim head coach Matt Canada was then officially granted the reigns for the rest of the season.
The Terps’ first outing since the official coaching change was hard to watch. After dropping 712 yards on Illinois, Maryland finished with just 100 total yards on the day and fell to 5-4 (3-3 Big Ten) this season. The rest of the stats from the day just further prove the Terps ineptitude on offense. Here’s a couple to give you an idea:
About those 100 yards...
First, let’s reiterate the fact that this is total yards, not just passing or rushing. If you include the endzones, that’s not even the full length of a football field. Then, add in the fact Maryland didn’t reach that 100-yard plateau until Tayon Fleet-Davis broke off a 10-yard run with under seven minutes left in the game.
The first three quarters saw Maryland get nothing in the way of offense, and even with two shanked punts leading to excellent field position, were unable to put points on the board. Against one of the best rushing defenses in the conference, it took 29 rushes for Maryland to get 26 yards. Even excluding the five sacks Maryland took, the team got just 2.7 yards per rush.
With above-average wind speeds, the passing game was no better. Kasim Hill took four sacks and went 8-of-21 for 74 yards, while Tyrrell Pigrome took a sack and went 0-of-3 on throws. Just one receiver caught multiple passes, as freshman Darryl Jones had two receptions for 13 yards.
Maryland had five fumbles
That’s a season high, with two of them causing a change in possession. On the other side of the ball, Maryland finished with two interceptions, and wasn’t able to recover either of the Spartans’ two fumbles. In total, the turnover battle was even, but Maryland’s were undoubtedly more costly.
There were two high snaps forcing Hill to fall on a couple loose balls, a fumble out of bounds, and a couple hustle plays from the Spartans to get the ball loose. On what started as an exceptional defensive play and turned into a defining moment, Byron Cowart tracked down a tipped pass for an interception and returned it inside the five when he got caught from behind and fumbled into the end zone. Michigan State would get a touchback on the recovery and score on the very next play.
Maryland went 3-of-15 on third down
Third-down conversions are typically a product of the types of yardage gained on first and second down, and it was no different here. Struggling to complete plays, the Terps were in a lot of third-and-long situations against the Spartans. At one point, Maryland wound up punting after being forced into a fourth-and-32.
Considering the Terps finished the game averaging just 1.9 yards a play, its unsurprising that most of Maryland’s third downs were either incomplete throws or runs that ended up stopped at least three yards short. Maryland was only in position once to try to go for it on fourth down, but a false start quickly pushed the Terps out of position.
On the day, Maryland finished with five three-and-outs, compared to three from Michigan State, and faced an average distance of over eight yards on the down. This is all despite an 11-yard advantage on starting field position, with the Terps starting their average drive from their own 38, while Michigan State started from its own 27 on average.
The Terps travel to Indiana next Saturday in another shot at bowl eligibility. Maryland will just have to hope this isn’t the version of the offense that makes the trip.