By: Jack Rothenberg
The Terrapins fell Saturday to the 12th ranked Indiana Hoosiers, 27-11. Maryland traveled to Memorial Stadium down 23 players, due to the COVID-19 outbreak which had sidelined them for the past two weeks. That includes nine starters, which was a big factor in the loss.
It had been exactly three weeks since the Terps last took the field, and the layoff was evident. Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa missed a wide open Dontay Demus in the back of the endzone on the opening possession. The incompletion forced a 29 yard Joseph Petrino field goal attempt that was missed wide to the left. Petrino hit a 51 yarder in the first win of the season against Minnesota.
Two possessions later, Maryland marched back into Indiana territory. Tagovailoa had Demus open once again down the middle, but threw it behind the junior receiver resulting in an interception. “That was just me trying to do too much again and not reading my keys. Whether it was a dirty read or a clear read, I have to make a decision from it. That’s stuff you can learn from and get better from that,” Tagovailoa said.
Tagovailoa added a third interception to the stat sheet, and another disappointing start to his resume. Two first half drives that got into the redzone yielded zero points and were big contributors to the 7-3 halftime lead for Indiana. Tagovailoa finished the day with 241 passing yards on 17-36 passing.
It didn’t help that three of the offensive starters that were out for this game were senior running back Jake Funk, sophomore wide receiver Jeshaun Jones, and freshman wide receiver Rakim Jarrett. The three have accounted for over 700 yards and five touchdowns this season.
“We’re not the first team to have to deal with this… we’re going to play with the guys that are available to us and that’s just the type of mentality we’re going to have as a team. We had good enough players there today that have to be prepared the right way to go out and execute,” head coach Mike Locksley said.
While the offense certainly looked rusty, the defense picked up where they left off against Penn State, only allowing 139 first half yards to an explosive Hoosiers offense. They didn’t allow any long pass plays, which is what Indiana was able to get all day against Ohio State. “That was the key in the secondary, take away the shots…take away all the concepts they love which are the deep routes,” defensive back Antwaine Richardson said.
Also, Maryland’s pass rush affected Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr. the entire first half. The pressure led to an 84 yard performance for Penix Jr., who left the game in the third quarter due to an injury. Playing mostly man-to-man with a safety over the top, the Terps’ cornerbacks played well. However, as the game moved further into the second half, the Indiana offense finally broke through. They relied mostly on the ground game, as running back Stevie Scott rushed for three scores.
One positive was freshman running back Peny Boone. He rushed for 35 yards and had a sensational hurdle to help Maryland extend a drive. Hopefully Maryland will be able to get a couple of players back that were absent against the Hoosiers next week against Michigan. Even so, Tagovailoa will need to step up his play as the Terps will travel to Ann Arbor for a very winnable game.
Maryland Terrapins vs. Michigan Wolverines – Saturday, December 5th – 3:30 p.m. on BTN
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