December 7, 2019

Maryland Football: Terps have best chance of conference win all year against struggling Hoosiers

(Photo by: Testudo Times)

(Photo by: Testudo Times)

It is officially basketball season in College Park. But even after a great victory against the Georgetown Hoyas in a renewed rivalry on Tuesday, there are still two more games that the University of Maryland’s football team has to partake in. After going through the gauntlet of some of the Big Ten’s best and brightest programs nationally — featuring Ohio State, Iowa, and Michigan State — the Terps schedule takes a huge turn for the better. All of that starts with hosting the Indiana Hoosiers this week, who are also looking for their first conference win.

After then-starting quarterback C.J. Brown went down with injury against the Hoosiers last year, now-backup quarterback Caleb Rowe came in to save the day by throwing for two touchdowns on the way to the Terps rout of Indiana in their first conference game as a member of the Big Ten. Of course, a lot of that victory has to do with now-departed receivers Stefon Diggs and Deon Long, who combined for 16 receptions, 220 yards, and a touchdown. Things are much different for the Terps new-look offense now, designed around the legs of Perry Hills.

The only problem with Hills’ running the offense, although at times he makes dynamic scrambles that result in big plays, is that he is far from consistent in the passing game. At times, head coach Mike Locksley has inserted a cold Rowe into the game with the hope of moving the ball down the field quickly. Last week after Hills threw a pick-6, Rowe came in to throw his FBS leading 14th interception (he threw No. 15 later in the game) which ended up resulting in a Spartans field goal. Those ten points kept Maryland’s defense from making that game very interesting.

The makeup at running back is now even worse. On Monday afternoon, the University of Maryland announced the indefinite suspension of Wes Brown for a violation of the student athlete code of conduct. Less than two days removed from being the starters against Michigan State, the Terps will have to transition back to senior back Brandon Ross. This was a once-loaded backfield during the Spring game, but after the departures of Jacquille Veii and Albert Reid during the summer, that is no longer the case. Freshman running back Ty Johnson is expected to see his workload increase and could break out for a few big plays against a below average Hoosiers rush defense.

Indiana is led by senior quarterback Nate Sudfeld, yet another Big Ten passer that is likely NFL bound. Sudfeld might not light it up statistically, but it is consistency that has been the key for several NFL scouts keeping their eye on him. He passes the eye test with his set-up and delivery and could potentially carve up the Terps if they give him the opportunity. That being said, a previously erratic Terps secondary stepped up in a big way last week against another pro-prospect in Connor Cook. Cook struggled against the Maryland secondary, which got contributions from backups Anthony Nixon and A.J. Hendy. Things could get messy for Maryland if they are not able to come back with a consecutive straight week of good backside defense.

Contrary to the woes Maryland has in the run game, Indiana seems to be basking in the sun even after losing Tevin Coleman to the NFL. Last year’s workhorse at UAB Jordan Howard was allowed to transfer to the school of his choosing and is now located in Bloomington. The 6-foot-1, 230 pound Alabama native rushed for nearly 1600 yards for the the Blazers last season and will pass the 1200 yard mark against Maryland this weekend. Coming off a career game of 238 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, and an additional score through the air, Howard has taken the burden off Sudfeld and will be a headache for Keith Dudzinski‘s defense.

Prior to Wes Brown’s suspension, Maryland was an early three-point favorite against the Hoosiers, who have lost six straight since finishing non-conference play 4-0. Not that Brown was the best player on the team, but his presence will surely be missed in pass protection. On what is expected to be a brisk fall day at Byrd Stadium, two teams will fight hard to avoid going winless in Big Ten conference play. Something tells me that the Terps seniors will be treated to a strong home crowd for one last time and the home team will be victorious.

Prediction: Maryland Terrapins 30, Indiana Hoosiers 27

About Neil Dalal

Neil Dalal is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins, Wizards, and Maryland Terrapins. Neil grew up in Silver Spring, MD and attends the University of Maryland. Neil has loved everything related to the Redskins, Wizards, Capitals, and Terrapins since he was eight years old. However, he favors the Orioles, as he started watching baseball before the Expos moved to DC. You can follow Neil on Twitter @NeilDalal96.

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