By: Adam Gotkin
After a disappointing week one for the Maryland Terrapins, things won’t get much easier this week, as the Terps welcome in the Minnesota Golden Gophers. The Golden Gophers were ranked at number 21 in the country last week, before they lost in their first game against Michigan, 49-24. While not a good way to start the season, this loss doesn’t mean that Minnesota is anywhere close to a bad team. Unfortunately for the Terps, this week is where Minnesota hopes to show their true talent and potential.
Minnesota on offense this season is led by a trio of stars at their quarterback, running back and wide receiver positions. This trio is led by Heisman hopeful quarterback, Tanner Morgan. Morgan returns to Minnesota for his junior season after last year becoming the first quarterback in Minnesota history to throw for 3,000 yards
and 30 touchdowns in one season. Morgan struggled a bit in the teams opener, not reaching the 200 yard mark and only throwing for one touchdown. Morgan is joined in the backfield by Mohamed Ibrahim who when given the chance to shine at his career at Minnesota, has. This was highlighted when he ran for 140 yards last season in the Outback Bowl, and Ibrahim showed no sign of slowing down in week one. Ibrahim was
able to run all over the Michigan defense, accumulating 140 yards and two touchdowns on 26 carries. Ibrahim needs to be the main focus for the Maryland defense this week, after they gave up an astonishing 325 yards on the ground to Northwestern. Yet, the offensive firepower doesn’t stop there. The third member of the offensive trio could be the best, in potential first round draft pick Rashod Bateman. Bateman had originally opted out of the season, after having a nasty run-in with the virus during the summer.
But, he decided to opt back in after the Big Ten announced the return to play plan in late September. Bateman showed no signs of being behind in week one, with nine receptions and over 100 receiving yards. Minnesota also returns all of their starting lineman from last season, and their top four tight ends who help round out the offense
and protect their star playmakers.
After the Terps woes against Northwestern’s offense last week, giving up 43
points, everything would need to go perfectly along with some big adjustments to give themselves a chance to win. The veteran offensive line of Minnesota had a very hard time stopping Michigan’s pass rush last week, which makes that one spot that Maryland is going to need to take advantage of. Also, if Maryland can lock down Bateman, which is not at all easy to do, then they give themselves a much better chance at winning if
they can then also stop the rush.
Over on the other side of the ball is where both teams look to improve the most. Both the Maryland offense and the Minnesota defense struggled immensely. For Maryland, this was large because of Taulia Tagovailoa’s struggles in his first career start. Tagovaiola threw three interceptions, two of which were into double coverage, and was inaccurate on plays when he needed to roll out of the pocket. His problems, while not looking good, were things that are very fixable and will get better as the young quarterback matures and develops. Against a young Minnesota defense this week, he’s
got a chance to do that. Minnesota’s strength on defense, however, is in the secondary where they return all but one starter from last season. Outside of their secondary though, the defense is young and inexperienced. The team only returns one defensive lineman, in nose tackle Micah Dew-Treadway. The defense has Boye Mafe and Esezi Otomewo on the edges, both talented and athletic players who have a chance to be stars but need more time to develop. For Maryland’s offense to succeed against Minnesota, they’re going to have to do exactly what Michigan did last week, run the ball effectively and go for big plays. Minnesota allowed two runs over 65 yards last week. That is something Maryland is going to have to do if they want a chance at winning. In addition, they allowed a massive five rushing touchdowns. Last week, the Terps threw more than they ran and that will have to be the opposite against Minnesota. Funk and Boone both looked mildly impressive in their season debuts, both lashing out for big gains, but they will need to
step up and play even better in week two against Minnesota.
Mike Locksley needs his team to come together and play hard after getting destroyed last week by Northwestern. It’s on national television, and the Terps will be looking to shock the world. The odds are very against them with Minnesota coming in as 19.5 point favorites and with an 81.8% chance to win by ESPN’s Football Power Index. But, as I said last week, don’t count the Terps out. With guys on offense like Tagovailoa, Dontay Demus, Jake Funk, and Rakim Jarret, the potential for a breakout game is there. While they struggled a lot in week one, the potential and star power is still there to
shock us all.
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