December 7, 2019

Maryland Football: Terps hope not to fall flat again, host Michigan and Joaquin AT NOON

It would not be surprising if Randy Edsall and his coaching staff burned the tape of there 45-6 thumping by the West Virginia Mountaineers. It was indeed that bad.

Probably the only good thing that came out of all of this is that the second best pocket passing quarterback recruit, according to ESPN, Dwayne Haskins has remained strong in his commitment to the University of Maryland. Although it is accustomed for many true freshmen to sit out their first year of eligibility, Maryland might be in such a dire need of a quarterback to rally around that Haskins could play next year.

Unfortunately for the Terps, they cannot ask Haskins to forgo his final year of eligibility in high school because they have three below average quarterbacks currently. The lack of the QB play is probably why a players only meeting was called on Tuesday. Perry Hills was given first crack at the job after an open competition, but then found himself at the back of the line after being blown out by Bowling Green. If Caleb Rowe was able to correct who turnover issue in the game against South Florida, he seemed to be Edsall’s solution. That was a big if by the way the redshirt junior played against West Virginia; however, after being pulled after his fourth interception in favor of Daxx Garman, Edsall continues to stand by Rowe. That leash might be extremely short however as the Terrapins turn their attention to #22 ranked Michigan.

Since dropping a season opening matchup at the currently #10 ranked Utah Utes, the Michigan Wolverines have rallied around new head coach Jim Harbaugh with three impressive victories most recently against then #22 BYU in a 31-0 shutout. Strong defense has now propelled the University of Michigan into the #22 ranked team in the country after many thought it would take more time for the former 49ers head coach to turn around the program.

A Michigan defense that has given up just 9.5 points and 204 yards per game coupled with Caleb Rowe’s FBS leading 9 interception is not a good formula for Maryland. Bearing a streaky hot stretch from Rowe, Maryland will have to hope to see continued production from running back Brandon Ross. Ross was the Terps lone bright spot, forgetting the bad break fumble, against a stingy West Virginia defense with 130 yards on just 15 carries.Hopefully a week of practice with a revamped offensive line will help Maryland against a Michigan front that allows just over 80 yards on the ground a game.

As bad as the Terps defense may have looked against the Mountaineers, it was all compounded by the lack of rest after several three and outs from a “no-huddle” offense. In real time, the defense got at times just five minutes of rest after getting off the field if the offense was forced into a quick punt or committed a turnover. Regardless, having bookend defensive ends consisting of Yannick Ngakoue and Roman Braglio can lead to big time negative plays for the offense. Will Likely might be known for his work as a punt returner but actually is a very capable cover corner who will be given the task of containing WR Amara Darboh for much of the game. Michigan’s quarterback Jake Rudock has looked much better of late, but the Terps will have to force the senior into mistakes to carry the load of the team.

Since having 315 punt return yards in the first two games of the season, Will Likely has had just two opportunities in the past two games for 22 yards. Part of this is teams are not going to let Likely beat them over a far from potent offense. The other is just the fewer amount of punts Maryland is forcing as their opponents get stronger. Whether it be in the punt or kickoff return game, Maryland desperately needs to win the field position battle to have any chance.

Opening as a 12 point underdog, after West Virginia was favored 17 points, Maryland will have their work cut out for them even if it is a home game. The advantage at Byrd Stadium surely is not as great of an advantage as the students provide for the basketball team at Xfinity Center. Randy Edsall better hope for a quick start from his team to keep the student section’s attention past halftime otherwise it could turn out ugly late similarly to the Bowling Green game. Dating back to 2013, Maryland has won 7 regular season games following a loss, but are winless in 10 games against ranked opponents during the Randy Edsall era. Something has to give and it probably won’t be in the Terps favor.

The big X-factor in the game is Hurricane Joaquin, which is suppose to bring torrential rain to the College Park campus starting on Friday. Although Joaquin will not become adjacent to the area until Monday, the  category 3 hurricane will be bringing inches of rain to the DC suburb for multiple days. The game has already been moved up to 12 PM noon on Saturday, while the eye of Joaquin is still further away from the area. Continue to stay tuned to District Sports Page was ny possible news of postponement.

The weather environment’s effect on not just the crowd (which is likely to be sparse if raining) and an increase in the number of mistakes made will play a huge factor in the diversity of offenses run. Expect a lot of running the ball with Brandon Ross to protect Rowe from having another turnover fulled performance in the nasty environment.

Prediction: Maryland Terrapins 10, Michigan Wolverines 24

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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