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Four takeaways from Maryland’s 59-0 loss to No. 12 Penn State

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Here’s what stood out from the embarrassing defeat.

Maryland football loss to Penn State Sept. 27 Sarah Sopher / Testudo Times

Maryland football’s 59-0 loss to Penn State was quite an ugly showing.

The Terps weren’t able to put any points on the board and have now been outscored 163-6 in their last three matchups with Penn State.

Here are the biggest takeaways from the Terps’ Big Ten opener.

1. Josh Jackson was atrocious. After completing 15-of-38 passes for just 183 yards and throwing an interception against Temple, it didn’t seem like Jackson could play any worse. His first two games in a Terps uniform were incredibly impressive, and that start in Philadelphia seemed like an anomaly. After all, Jackson was dominant at Virginia Tech for over a season.

But against Penn State on Friday, he was flat-out ghastly. Once again, Jackson failed to complete at least half of his passes, throwing 11 incompletions on 21 attempts. He managed just 65 yards in the air, which comes out to 3.1 yards per attempt. To put that into perspective, Nittany Lions signal caller Sean Clifford averaged 12.8 yards per pass.

And it wasn’t just the inefficiency that hurt Jackson. He also made a number of poor throws, throwing two interceptions and nearly tossing a couple more. Jackson was under pressure all night long, but he still failed to make the throws he needed to, clean pocket or not.

“My job is to figure out the things that will allow us to play with confidence on the offensive side of the ball,” head coach Mike Locksley said postgame. “It starts with our quarterback, this offense is quarterback-driven. ... I’m disappointed in, obviously, the turnovers. But we’ve got to protect Josh.”

The first pick put Penn State on the 8-yard line two minutes into the game, allowing them to take a 7-0 lead in just one play. Later in the first quarter down 14-10, the Terps were in the red zone when he made a fatal mistake.

2. The running game was hilariously bad. As bad as Jackson was as a passer on Friday night, there was a silver lining to his performance — he was Maryland’s leading rusher. Taking out sacks, he rushed the ball seven times for 27 yards.

Maryland lost veteran running back Jake Funk to a torn ACL against Temple, leaving the backfield a bit shorthanded entering Week 5. Lorenzo Harrison III was expected to fill Funk’s shoes, but he was knocked out of the game due to injury following an eight-yard run in the first quarter.

The rest of the backs weren’t able to find any room all night long. Star rusher Anthony McFarland Jr. netted just 24 yards on nine carries, good for 2.6 yards per carry. Tayon Fleet-Davis rushed five times for 12 yards and Javon Leake ran for 10 yards on six attempts. The offensive line struggled, especially through injuries (more on that below), but it was an all-around disaster for the offense.

“We do have a few inexperienced guys, guys moving around, but with the way we practice and the reps we get, when you go out, you expect to execute,” senior offensive lineman Ellis McKennie said. “There’s no excuses for [the performance]. We’re going to work on it, we’re going to get better — especially in the O-Line room, I can promise that — and we’re going to work and get ready for next week.”

3. Injuries piled up. Following a 7-yard gain on a reverse sweep in the opening quarter, running back Lorenzo Harrison III exited the game and did not return. Harrison has been limited so far this season with a hamstring injury and was expected to have an increased role with Funk out.

Locksley did not provide an update on him following the game.

Maryland cornerback Marcus Lewis suffered a knee related injury, which Locksley said he doesn’t know the severity of, and offensive tackle Marcus Minor suffered a dislocated toe. Both injuries were also suffered in the first quarter.

Due to Lewis’ injury, sophomore defensive back Kenny Bennett lined up at the other cornerback position across from Tino Ellis. Bennett would exit the game in the second quarter with an unknown injury, pushing Deonte Banks into game action.

Senior defensive lineman Oluwaseun Oluwatimi also exited the game in the fourth quarter, but Locksley did not provide any further information on him.

4. The secondary got eviscerated... again. Since Week 2 against Syracuse, Maryland’s back line of defense hasn’t been up to the task against some strong offensive attacks. Orange quarterback Tommy DeVito threw for 330 yards and three touchdowns — though in a defeat. In the loss to Temple, the Terps allowed Owls passer Anthony Russo to gain 277 yards in the air while also scoring thrice.

On Friday, Nittany Lions quarterback Sean Clifford was nearly perfect. Outside of an interception by freshman defensive back Nick Cross, the redshirt sophomore was lights out. On the night, he completed 26-of-31 passes for 398 yards, scoring three times. That included a dynamic play from KJ Hamler for a 58-yard touchdown, making multiple Terps miss in the process.

It wasn’t entirely the secondary’s fault though, as the front seven generated no pressure whatsoever. The Terps registered zero sacks on the night, and until the Penn State starters were pulled late in the game, they didn’t have a single quarterback hit either.

“We’re a pressure defense, and for whatever reason we didn’t necessarily affect [Clifford],” Locksley said. “He made some early, quick decisions, got the ball to [Hamler], who’s a big time player. We knew that he had the capability.”