By Jack Rothenburg –
With Maryland coming off a morale boosting victory over Howard, their attention turned to Syracuse. A top 25 team, coming off a win over Liberty. The Terrapins would have a chance to win their first home game over a ranked opponent in 9 years. Although, if they were going to do that, they needed to continue to move the ball on offense and remain tough on defense.
Due to Syracuse’s offensive struggle against Liberty last week, the matchup to watch was certainly the Josh Jackson led Maryland offense against a top 15 Syracuse defense, who like the Terrapin’s, held their opponent to 0 points last week.
Moving the ball on offense starts with quarterback Josh Jackson. Jackson has helped the team get off to great starts in the first two games. In both games, during the first half, they have scored a school record of 98 points. Head Coach Mike Locksley addressed their fast starts after the game. “We were fortunately able to start quickly…we keep stressing that starting fast is really important for us in all three phases,” Locksley said. In total through six quarters, Maryland has scored 121 points.
In the first quarter of Saturday’s game, Jackson went 7-10 passing with one touchdown. Their rushing attack during the entire first half was clicking as well. A combination of Anthony McFarland and Javon Leake put the Terrapins over 100 yards rushing. Jackson also added two more touchdown passes in the second quarter, which helped Maryland show off all of their offensive talent and take a 42-13 lead into the break.
All of the credit can’t be given to the offense though. The Terrapins defense rose to the occasion, by forcing 2 turnovers and extending their streak to 14 games in a row with a fumble recovery. They recorded four sacks and five tackles for loss, which attributed to the team only giving up 7 second half points.
Maryland ended up with over 600 yards on offense and executing all throughout the game when they needed it most. They went 11-15 on third downs, and 8-8 in the red zone when it came to scoring touchdowns. “We keep talking about football IQ and situational football, and I think our guys are starting to get it,” Locksley said.
Taking a look at the season so far, Maryland seems to be a sleeper team. Locksley has only coached two games, and it looks like something special is happening here. As I noted earlier, the Terrapins haven’t beat a ranked team at home since 2010, and Locksley just beat one in his second game as coach. After putting on a show like this, on ESPN with a national stage, maybe there should be talk surrounding this team. Maryland could enter the top 25 this week. With this upset over Syracuse, a win against Temple and another upset against rival Penn State, we could very well see this team pushing up the ranking before October.