By Jack Rothenberg
After getting run out of the building last Friday night against Iowa, the Maryland Terrapins will look to rebound in any way possible against Ohio State. With four wins in their back pocket, the Terps are still focused on getting to six wins and returning to a bowl game for the first time since 2016. Here are the keys to Maryland getting their fifth win this Saturday.
Tayon-Fleet Davis vs. Ohio State’s front seven:
In the one contest that Ohio State lost against Oregon, the Buckeyes conceded over 250 rushing yards. Oregon running back C.J. Verdell also racked up two touchdowns, one on a 77 yard rush. Last week against Iowa, the Terps’ leading rusher was junior quarterback Tualia Tagovailoa with 24 yards. If Maryland hopes to pull off the upset, they’ll need to get the running game involved, and that starts with senior running back Tayon Fleet-Davis. Now that the Terps are down their top wide receiver target in Dontay Deus Jr, Maryland must find offense from other spots and the running game needs to provide a spark on Saturday.
Rakim Jarrett and Jeshaun Jones vs. Buckeyes’ defensive backs:
Minus Demus Jr., the Terps will need other play makers to step up and carry the load in the passing game. Sophomore wide receiver Rakim Jarrett and junior wide receiver Jeshaun Jones are next in line on the depth chart and have been able to fill the stat sheet early in the season. While Jones hasn’t quite been able to find a groove in the Locksley run offense, this is a perfect opportunity for the red shirt receiver to make his mark. As for Jarrett, he will be Maryland’s top receiver for the rest of the season which may bode well for the Terps next season. He has proven himself on the field, but will now get the chance to be the leader of the receiving room. Other options in the passing game to watch out for are sophomore tight end Corey Dyches and senior tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo. Okonkwo has three touchdown receptions on the season.
Taulia Tagovailoa vs. Ohio State Secondary:
The Ohio State defense plays a lot of cover three defense which has given most teams trouble outside of Oregon. Tagovailoa had trouble with Iowa’s cover two look last weekend, which may play into the Buckeyes’ play calling on Saturday. No matter what defense the Buckeyes play, Tagovailoa will need to decipher what the coverage is pre-snap and find the right read. Especially against a cover two defense, it’s important that the quarterback uses his eyes in order to move the safeties to uncover receivers. Failure to do this against Iowa cost Tagovailoa and contributed strongly to his five interceptions.
Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud vs. Maryland defensive front:
The redshirt freshman out of California has thrown for over 1,200 passing yards this season and has just about a 4-1 TD-INT ratio. Even though his stats have been superb through five games, when Stroud is pressured he is less accurate and is more errant with his throws. While this applies for most quarterbacks in college and even in the pro game, it’s vital that Maryland continues to get pressure against Ohio State – most importantly on big plays and third downs.Maryland is ranked second in the Big Ten in sacks with 18 and was able to sack Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras twice on Friday despite facing a Hawkeyes’ offensive line that had only yielded nine sacks on the season. Stroud has two NFL level receivers in junior Garrett Wilson and senior Chris Olave, so the less time he has to survey the field the better.
Saturday, October 9th – 12 PM on FOX
Maryland Terrapins vs. Ohio State Buckeyes (-21) – O/U 71
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