December 9, 2019

Maryland Football: Terps hope to salvage some semblance of respect in border battle with Penn State

(Photo by: ESPN)

(Photo by: ESPN)

Isn’t it fitting that Randy Edsall is fired just before the Maryland Terrapins face off in a rematch with Penn State, the team that Edsall had arguably his most important win against during his tenure in College Park. Not only was the 20-19 victory just the second in Maryland’s 38 game rivalry with the Nittany Lions, but it probably helped jump start the DMVtoUMD movement. Maryland was notorious for losing local products to other schools in the region, and a win at State College surely went a long way of helping develop the Terrapins program.

You may remember that the game started before the opening kickoff when the Terps captains refused to shake the outstretched hands of the Nittany Lions at the opening coin toss. After a pre-game brawl, both sides knew that they would be in for a physical battle all about winning in the trenches.

Unfortunately for Maryland, as they have learned too often this year, C.J. Brown and Stefon Diggs are gone and the offense is sputtering. Know interim head coach Mike Locksley, the offensive coordinator under Edsall, will have to find some way to get Perry Hills to extend some of his flashes of Brown like plays across an entire 60 minutes. According to the defending national champions head coach Urban Meyer, Hills drove Ohio State “insane” two weeks ago when the dual-threat quarterback kept Maryland in the game into the second half.

It is clear that Perry Hills is the quarterback for the foreseeable future in College Park. Many, including myself, believed that Oklahoma State transfer Daxx Garman would be next in line to receive an opportunity to start a regular season game against Ohio State. However it is clear with the revelation that Locksley has Garman as the FOURTH quarterback on the Maryland depth chart, Garman had no chance to play against the Buckeyes with the probability that Locksley had serious pull in the decision with possible internal rumblings of Edsall’s imminent dismissal.

Hills will have his work cut out for him when facing the 20th best scoring defense n the country where Penn State gives up just 17.7 points per game. To Hills’ credit, he put up four touchdowns against Ohio State who only gives up 16.3 points per game, good for 13th in the country. Unfortunately for Hills, he will likely be harassed all day by Penn State’s Carl Nassib who leads the nation with 11.5 sacks. Expect that number to go up if Maryland gets down early and has to turn into a pass heavy, one-dimensional offense in order to catch up.

Something that could benefit Maryland should they have implemented more of it during the bye week, is the read-option that turned the Washington Redskins into division champions in 2012. Hills is C.J. Brown in another body, he always looks to scramble and run when the first read is not there. Sometimes that worked out for Hills, namely his 75 yard gasher right up the gut against Ohio State, but sometimes it would turn into negative plays. If given the chance, Hills could be a factor on designed quarterback runs as well as help out his tailbacks Brandon Ross and Wes Brown get back on track after recent struggles against consistent eight man fronts. Maryland might have some success against the Nittany Lions on the ground game as they do allow a fairly hefty 145.3 yards/game.

Coming into the season, Maryland’s defense might have been most concerned with Christian Hackenberg, who many dubbed the #1 quarterback in the 2016 draft class. Since, Hackenberg has taken a tumble back to reality but will still be able to pick apart a fairly poor Maryland secondary, namely a streaky Sean Davis. Things get worse for Maryland when they start to watch the recent game tape of one Saquon Barkley who has rushed for 566 yards over his past four games including most recently outrushing top pro-prospect Ezekiel Elliott at last week’s matchup with 194 yards on 26 carries. In short, this has the possibility of again turning ugly early for the Terps.

If there is one thing to look forward to while Maryland fans wait for the basketball regular season opener on November 13th or SportsCenter coming to College Park following the Georgetown game on November 17th, it is Under Armor jerseys! After rumors had already broke that the team would be sporting throwbacks from the 1961 season, the school officially revealed the look earlier this week.

Saturday’s game will be televised nationally on ESPN at 3:30 PM from M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. With eyes across the world watching, hopefully Maryland can regain some respect for a program that is all but out of contention of a postseason bowl game. The Nittany Lions opened as a 7.5 point favorite over Maryland, a fairly kind margin for Terp fans. In the end, this will be a game where one program is looking to be part of a prominent bowl game come December while the other is just hoping for next season to come when they can build around a “franchise” (for three years) quarterback recruit.

Prediction: Maryland Terrapins 6, Penn State 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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