Following two losses to Purdue and Indiana, Maryland football traveled to Minneapolis in an attempt to get back on track against undefeated No. 17 Minnesota. But that did not happen on Saturday as the Terps were blown out 52-10 by the Golden Gophers.
Here are our biggest takeaways from Maryland’s fifth loss of the season.
1. The Terps allowed more rushing yards than they have all season. Maryland’s secondary has been a struggle all season, but normally, the defense is able to get stops on the run. That certainly wasn’t the case against No. 17 Minnesota.
The Terps allowed a whopping 321 yards on the ground — the most they’ve allowed all season, by a lot. The high before this was 198 rushing yards from Penn State. Maryland also gave up 5.9 yards per play and four touchdowns by way of the run, putting up only five yards of stoppage on the ground.
“There were way too many instances where you’ve got a linebacker tackling in the back and there’s nobody else around,” Locksley said. “So that means guys aren’t getting off of blocks and guys aren’t running to the football.”
2. Turnovers are bad. Since quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome made his first start against Purdue, the Terps have been bitten by the turnover bug. In its first five games, Maryland gave the ball away just four times. In its last three, there have been six turnovers.
Five have come off the arm of Pigrome, who continues to struggle with accuracy despite his vast experience. Against Minnesota, the mobile signal caller had a pair of interceptions, the second of which was returned for a touchdown.
Granted, it wasn’t all Pigrome’s fault. His first pass of the afternoon was a bullet to Dontay Demus Jr., who couldn’t secure the catch. The throw had too much juice on it and it sailed high, but a sure-handed receiver likely makes that grab.
And Maryland football has already thrown an interception... pic.twitter.com/AHUGiIMmjG— Lila Bromberg (@lilabbromberg) October 26, 2019
“[A turnover on the first play] was tough, and we gotta go back and look at it,” running back Anthony McFarland said. “No matter what happens, no matter what happened on that play, we do everything as a team. ... At the end of the day, overall, we just didn’t execute.”
His second interception throw, however, was much more egregious. Pigrome likely had too much zip on his throw, but this time, it was well behind Demus. The sophomore receiver had little chance of making a catch, and his deflection made for an easy pick six.
For the second time today, Minnesota gets an interception off the hands of wide receiver Dontay Demus Jr. pic.twitter.com/bnElM9BHR2— Lila Bromberg (@lilabbromberg) October 26, 2019
3. The Terps barely had the ball. To say Minnesota dominated the time of possession in this game is a complete understatement. The Golden Gophers had the ball for 42:53, using long drives to their advantage, over 25 more minutes than the Terps’ 17:07 time on offense.
When Maryland was in control, well, it wasn’t in control. The Terps had five three-and-outs, as well as two drives end in interceptions. In the third quarter, the offense had just six plays for nine yards. And it ended the day going 2-for-11 on third down conversions, walking away with just 210 yards and 10 first downs.
“We knew going into this game because of the style of play they had on offense that we would have limited opportunities. They’re a team that possesses the ball, they control the tempo,” head coach Mike Locksley said. “And so it was going to be up to us to be able to get off the field on defense, which we didn’t do.
4. Joseph Petrino added three points to the scoreboard. Not all went wrong for Maryland football on Saturday in Minneapolis. Entering Week 9, the Terps were the last team in the entire FBS without a field goal make on the season.
In fairness to Petrino and the special teams unit, he wasn’t gifted many opportunities. Before Saturday’s game, the sophomore only had two attempts on the season, one of which was deflected in a missed assignment by the field goal blocking unit.
But against the Golden Gophers, Petrino nailed a 31-yarder to put Maryland on the board, joining the other 129 FBS teams who have made a field goal this season.
Into the eyes of the gopher.— Terps Watch (@TerpsWatch) October 26, 2019
Maryland is on the board! pic.twitter.com/C19PuhoyTo
Editors note: Thanks to Andy Kostka of The Diamondback, who sent us audio from Minnesota.