Coming off of a dispatching of Rutgers, Maryland football looked to further return to its winning ways but failed to do so against Purdue Saturday.
The Boilermakers were able to take down Maryland 40-14, thanks to their best offensive performance of the season. The Terrapins struggled to pick apart the defense with any consistency, which also gave Purdue all the chances it needed and more.
Here is a closer look at what went wrong for Maryland in the matchup.
Maryland’s pass attack was mostly grounded
Junior quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome got his chance to hold the starting job with Josh Jackson out with a mid foot, high ankle injury, but he wasn’t able to stand up to the level of play he showed against Ohio State in 2018.
With Maryland already struggling to make its mark, the Terrapins got a chance to try and move the ball before halftime and steal some momentum from Purdue as any score would have brought the deficit down to a one-score game before the half.
Pigrome had already completed one out route to the right side at the Terrapins’ sideline, but the next play would flip the course of the game. Down nine points with less than 30 seconds in the half, Pigrome attempted to hit tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo on a similar out pattern, but was intercepted. That pass was taken to the house for a score.
The mistake was costly in itself, but turned what could have been a one score game into a 30-14 halftime deficit.
In the second half, Pigrome and the Maryland offense were clearly attempting to take more chances, but the signal caller consistently was late in his delivery and was often throwing behind his receivers.
Most of those passes fell incomplete, but towards the end of the third quarter, Pigrome let a ball sail up and behind Darryl Jones, which was tipped and intercepted by Purdue safety Cory Trice, who also had the prior interception off of Pigrome.
These mistakes, in addition to an ineffective rushing attack, made it difficult for Maryland to sustain any type of pull in the game and often put the defense in tough situations to try and keep this one close.
The Maryland secondary was off
From the start of this matchup, Maryland struggled on the defensive side of the ball to make plays that slowed down the Purdue offense. And it was a Boilermaker offense missing its No. 1 quarterback, star wide receiver and key pieces on the offensive line.
The Terrapins were able to generate pressure up front, tallying one sack and eight tackles for loss, but quarterback Jack Plummer did enough to navigate it for positive plays.
One their first drive of the game, the Boilermakers were able to march down the field while keeping the Terrapins off-balanced a bit. A 20-yard pass from Plummer to tight end Brycen Hopkins put Purdue in the red zone, but linebacker Keandre Jones was able to counter with a sack on the next play.
Plummer then was able to sit back in the pocket and thread a needle right through the middle of the field, finding wide receiver David Bell for a 23-yard touchdown to open the scoring.
Big chunk plays would become a theme for Purdue in this matchup, as the Terrapins were unable to get off of the field and neutralize the attack on a consistent basis.
Down just six points in the second quarter, Maryland had a chance to force a stop and potentially take the lead. This is when Plummer and the Boilermaker offense swung for another huge play, one that was awfully reminiscent of KJ Hamler’s opening touchdown for Penn State.
Maryland defensive back Vincent Flythe misread a route by Purdue wide out Milton Wright down the sideline and safety Jordan Mosley attempted to lay the boom, but took out Flythe instead. Antoine Brooks Jr. attempted to play hero from his hybrid safety/linebacker position, but Wright had too much of an advantage to catch up with.
The Terrapins will certainly need to shore up these defensive errors by the secondary moving forward, as playing catch-up after misreads is a lot more costly than sitting back and keeping things in front of you.
Punting was inconsistent
While the weather in West Lafayette, Indiana, was certainly not pristine, the type of inconsistencies seen in the punting game loomed large for Maryland as it struggled to put Purdue on its heels.
Anthony Pecorella seemingly held on to the starting job against Purdue, booting five of the Terrapins’ six punts. He averaged 40.4 yards per punt, but had totals of 63, 48, 33, 31 and 27.
While the offense got off to a rough start, Pecorella hit his worst punt of the afternoon with a net of just 27 yards. This field position led to a Boilermaker touchdown less than two and a half minutes later, putting the Terrapins in a deeper hole quickly.
On his next punt however, Pecorella was able to boot a 48-yard punt that bounced at the six and kicked forward slowly to get downed at the one yard line.
Punts like that one and his 63-yard kick in the fourth quarter show that the talent is certainly there in the freshman, but consistently hitting punts of 40 yards or more would help give the Maryland defense a chance to make a difference.
The bottom line
Maryland played a fairly disappointing game against Purdue, especially after what was thought to be a bounce back performance against Rutgers on the road one week prior.
Inconsistent play on both sides of the ball led to Purdue being able to put up a season-high of 547 yards and its second-highest total of 40 points. The Boilermakers certainly are not as bad of a team as their 2-4 record may claim, but with the amount of injuries they are working through, there is no reason the Terrapins couldn’t have gotten a win.
Jackson’s availability and how head coach Mike Locksley and his staff prepare the team in practice will certainly play a factor in the team’s success week-by-week as the heart of this season hits.
With a 3-3 record through six games, Maryland will have to start working some magic if it hopes to find three wins for a potential bowl game this season.