Maryland played its best conference game of the season against Penn State Saturday, but it still wasn't enough to win. The Terps held a brief advantage in the third quarter after Perry Hills completed a 10-yard touchdown to DeAndre Lane but were ultimately overtaken in the fourth quarter and unable to charge back late.
Here's a non-exhaustive list of who's up and who's down after the loss:
Yannick Ngakoue, defensive end. The junior end has been having a great season, but he had his best game so far against Penn State. He was a constant disruptor, getting to Christian Hackenberg on several occasions, sacking him twice and forcing an intentional grounding penalty in the second quarter that led to a Brad Craddock field goal. He also had four tackles and two tackles for a loss in a performance that is sure to put him on the map among Big Ten defensive ends who aren't named Carl Nassib or Joey Bosa.
Will Likely on offense. He was electric when he got the ball in open space, and he was also an extremely effective decoy when Mike Locksley sent him out on offense. He ran the ball four times 30 yards, including a 17-yard gain where he made several defenders miss. When he wasn't carrying the ball, the Terps would usually send him in motion and fake a reverse to him before quickly throwing a bubble screen or some other pass to a receiver on the outside. Likely was scary enough in the few times they did give him the ball that he received a good bit of attention on every play. Chances are we'll be seeing a good deal more of him on offense this season.
Maryland's rushing defense The team's front seven, headed by Ngakoue, held Penn State running back Saquon Barkley to 65 yards rushing on 20 carries. The talented freshman averaged 3.3 yards per carry after coming into the game averaging 8.3. Barkley had broken runs of over 50 yards three times in his four games, but his longest run on the day was 10 yards. Ngakoue and company on the defensive line got a great push against Penn State's subpar offensive line all game, making five tackles behind the line of scrimmage. This performance came after they were able to hold Heisman candidate Ezekiel Elliott to his second-lowest yardage total of the season. Things are looking up for a group that's lost nose tackle David Shaw and linebackers Abner Logan and Jefferson Ashiru.
Mike Locksley, interim head coach. A Locksley mantra since being named interim head coach has been that "football is supposed to be fun." That mindset was clear in this game. Players on the sideline were jumping up and down, waving towels, and generally looking excited for the first time in a while. However, he didn't coach a perfect game, and he deserves some of the blame for Maryland's struggles against the pass and the team's inability to score in the fourth quarter, where a Brad Craddock field goal was the team's sole source of points.
Maryland's pass defense. This was a scary-bad game for the Terps' secondary. After coming into the game averaging 12.1 yards per catch, Penn State's receivers averaged 24.2 yards per catch, constantly burning or just out-fighting Maryland defenders for the ball. Despite completing less than half of his passes, Hackenberg had a season-high 315 passing yards. Maryland just couldn't stop the deep ball, allowing five completions of over 30 yards, including a two-play drive that consisted of a 38-yard pass to Saeed Blacknall and a 37-yard touchdown pass to Chris Godwin. Overall, this was a day the Terps' secondary would probably rather forget.