Maryland football took the field against Rutgers in the last game of the regular season looking to move above .500 on senior day.
But without several key players, including starting quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, Chance Campbell and Jakorian Bennett, the Terps were forced to play short-handed from the game’s opening kickoff. Going from trading punts in the first half to trading scores in the second, Maryland ultimately came out on the losing end of an overtime thriller.
Here are my takeaways from the loss.
The Terps lack of discipline cost them
From start to finish on Saturday afternoon, Maryland repeatedly shot itself in the foot due to a lack of discipline, with those errors ultimately culminating in a heart-breaking loss.
On a critical third-and-2 in the fourth quarter, Rutgers tried to run it up the middle, but was stuffed by Maryland’s defense, which would have given the Terps’ offense the ball back with a chance to build on a 17-14 lead.
But a miscommunication on defense left Maryland with 12 players on the field at the time the ball was snapped, drawing a flag from the official and giving Rutgers a first down. The Scarlet Knights went on to score that drive and take the lead, with a pass interference call on the next play on freshman corner Tarheeb Still helping them get there as well.
“The thing I’m most disappointed in is good teams don’t beat themselves,” head coach Mike Locksley said. “We continue to be a team that plays without discipline with the type of penalties that we have.”
In total, the Terps committed 12 penalties for 135 yards, including multiple illegal blindside blocks and unsportsmanlike conduct fouls that either killed off promising drives or gave life to Rutgers’.
“We had probably five personal fouls out there today, and you can’t have those when you’re playing a good team,” sophomore linebacker Fa’Najae Gotay said. “You can’t help a good team be better. We just gotta put forth the effort on our part to stay disciplined and the game probably would’ve went different.”
Lance LeGendre was unimpressive
When LeGendre first announced his commitment to Maryland in 2019, there was significant buzz surrounding what the “QB1” star and four-star recruit would bring to the program.
Through the better part of two seasons, though, LeGendre has yet to make an impact with the Terps, seeing minimal playing time at the end of last season and failing to beat out Taulia Tagovailoa for the starting job coming into this year.
But with Tagovailoa not availabley LeGendre was given the opportunity to make his first career start and prove to his coach that he’s capable of leading the offense. However, LeGendre never found a rhythm in the time he was on the field, hurting his case for more playing time going forward.
In his third series, LeGendre dropped back and had a wide open Dontay Demus streaking up the seam. But the ball took too long to get out of LeGendre’s hands, with the throw he eventually made sailing too high for Demus to get more than a single hand on it, tipping it up the air and into the hands of a Rutgers defender for his second interception.
LeGendre was eventually pulled in favor of sophomore walk-on Eric Najarian, who looked far more comfortable in relief.
“Eric became the guy that gave us the best chance to win,” Locksley said. “We started with Lance and we sputtered on offense and felt like we just weren’t in sync, whether it was the communication that read the operation just wasn’t there.”
With Tagovailoa entrenched as the team’s starter going forward and Najarian putting on an impressive performance on Saturday, LeGendre’s future with the program is beginning to look more and more uncertain.
Jake Funk left it all on the field
In what was his final time taking the field for the Terps in College Park, senior running back Jake Funk had yet another outstanding performance running the football.
Despite not having the benefit of playing with Tagovailoa and having to deal with more defenders in the box, Funk rushed 17 times for 180 yards and a touchdown to (potentially) put a cap on his Maryland career.
“I mean, it’s meant everything to me, the five years that I’ve spent here,” Funk said of his time with the program. “I was a small town boy when I came here, and Maryland helped me become a man. I’m very thankful for my time here, and I enjoy every second that I get on that field.”
If this is the last we see of Funk in a Maryland uniform, his final year was by far the best we’ve seen from the Damascus product. In the four games he appeared in this season, Funk has averaged 129.0 yards per game, ranking in the top-10 in the FBS, while tallying four total touchdowns on the ground and through the air.
He also has developed a knack for ripping off long runs, with a yards per carry mark of 7.7, ranking seventh in all of college football. That big play ability was on full display against Rutgers as well, with Funk ripping off runs of 25 yards, 44 yards and 52 yards, gashing the Scarlet Knight run defense all afternoon long.
Jake Funk did it all for the Terps on this drive, carrying the ball three times with his last touch going 44 yards to the house to put Maryland up 10-7. pic.twitter.com/1IZRAqkP2k— Henry Malone (@henrymalone_) December 12, 2020