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5 takeaways from Maryland football's 79-0 win over Howard

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The Terps showed a lot in a record-setting win.

Sarah Sopher / Testudo Times

Maryland football had a scoring rout in its first game of the 2019 season, taking a 79-0 win over Howard. With Virginia Tech transfer Josh Jackson making his Maryland debut, the Terps put up 56 points in the first half, which is a school record for most point scored in a half. Jackson finished 15-of-24 with 245 yards and four touchdown passes.

Despite putting up 79 points, Maryland fell one point short of its program record for points in a game — 80 in 1927 against Washington College. However, the Terps managed to shut out Howard. The last time a Maryland team kept its opponent scoreless was in 2013 against West Virginia.

Besides witnessing Maryland set a number of program records, we noticed a few more things today. Here are the five biggest takeaways from their Week 1 contest.

1. While Howard is an FCS opponent, this was more of a domination than anyone expected.

Going into the game, Maryland was favored to win by 31 points with the over/under at 65.5. Not many people expected this game to be much of a challenge for head coach Mike Locksley and his time, but nobody expected this much of an onslaught.

The two teams had a similar possession time — Howard with 28:04 and Maryland with 31:56 — but the Bison were unable to put any drives together. Howard finished with a total of four first downs, while the Terps had 24 opportunities to move the chain.

On the defensive side of the ball, Maryland was all over Howard quarterbacks Caylin Newton, brother of Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, Ramar Williams and Quinton Williams. The three Bison’s quarterbacks were sacked a combined eight times for a loss of 52 yards, which is 15 yards less than Howard’s total offensive production of 67 yards.

Maryland dominated on special teams as well, capturing a punt return touchdown due to senior DJ Turner and blocking a punt in Howard’s own end zone that resulted in a safety.

“We talked about it as a program that you only get one opportunity to make a great first impression,” Locksley said. “And our guys, I thought, collectively, offensively, defensively and special teams — they all contributed to the win.”

2. For once, the passing game took precedence.

In the past four seasons, the Terps have finished each year with more rushing yards than passing yards. Last season, Maryland heavily depended on the run game, averaging 317 yards per game. But in the first game of the Locksley coaching era, the passing game dominated.

The Terps went to the passing game early and often in the first half to take advantage of Howard’s defensive alignment. The Terps had 306 passing yards and just 56 rushing yards at halftime, before turning to their talented backfield to guide them home. Locksley said after the game that the heavy passing game was dictated off of what Howard did defensively, which made it difficult for them to get the ground game going.

“Howard came in with the plan that they were going to zero pressure us and play a bunch of man, which forced us to throw the ball early,” Locksley said. “So you know, we will continue to try to be balanced in that if a team wants to sell out to stop the run, we have skill on the perimeter, we’ve got some quarterbacks that can make throws.”

Star running back Anthony McFarland Jr. is expected to be a major part of the offense this season after breaking the Maryland freshman rushing record with 1,034 yards and four touchdowns. But in an easy first game, Maryland’s coaching staff decided to only give the redshirt sophomore six attempts before pulling him and going to more of a committee-approach to the running attack. McFarland finished with 19 yards on his six carries and two touchdowns.

3. The Terps finished when it mattered.

Maryland went 5-for-6 on attempts in the red zone, with each opportunity ending in a touchdown for the Terps. Maryland’s only missed opportunity coming at the end of the game when the Terps decided not to score again out of respect for the Bison.

Locksley said after the game that he didn’t know about the 80-point program record but knew he didn’t want his team to score again.

“We got into a situation where we were trying to manage the clock,” Locksley said. “It was done out out of respect for our opponent.”

Capping off each Maryland drive, Maryland’s field goal kickers, including sophomore Joseph Petrino and junior Paul Inzerillo, were perfect on all 11 extra points for the day.

4. Maryland completely halted any offensive momentum for Howard

Howard ended the afternoon with a single rushing yard after being in the negative in that category for almost the entirety of the game. Sam Okuayinonu, who had seven tackles (3 solo and one for a loss) and one sack, Ayinde Eley, who had six tackles (two solo), and Keandre Jones, who had four tackles (one solo, 1.5 sacks and 1.5 tackles for loss) did the majority of the containing for the Terps.

“I thought we executed really well,” Locksley said. “Our philosophy on the defensive side of the ball is, we want to be aggressive, and we’re going to attack. I thought we did a good job about numbering the box with their quarterback, and his ability to make plays on the perimeter.”

5. The blowout gave younger players meaningful minutes

While the starters saw their first minutes of the 2019 season early into the game, the large Maryland lead allowed younger and inexperienced players to see their first game action.

For weeks now, the Maryland football team has been scrimmaging against one another in a practice setting. But today’s game offered the second and third string lineup to gain valuable playing time.

Players like Lance Legendre and Nick Cross saw valuable minutes, along with many other young Terps. Locksley was quick to point out players like freshman linebacker Cortez Andrews, redshirt freshman linebacker Fa’Najae Gotay, freshman defensive back Deonte Banks and freshman Lavonte Gater as players who he saw make some plays.

“One of the things as I said early, we have to develop our young players,” Locksley said. “And the only way you develop them is by executing your offense, defense and special team’s schemes.”