December 7, 2019

Maryland Football: Terps travel to Iowa in hope of their first Big Ten win and major upset against surging Hawkeyes

Maryland Terrapins’ interim head coach Mike Locksley has his first game under his belt in a tough loss against the Penn State Nittany Lions. Things get a whole lot harder for the Terps as they have to face off against the undefeated, 10th ranked Iowa Hawkeyes who are coming off of their midseason bye.

It seems that Maryland has found their quarterback for the remainder of the season. Although Perry Hills committed five turnovers in the loss to Penn State, including not coming through in the clutch in two situations where the Terps could have taken the lead with a field goal, he is still the best option Maryland has.

In the two games Caleb Rowe started against West Virginia and Michigan, Maryland mustered a total of three points. Hills, at the very least, has led the offense to 58 points against Ohio State and Penn State — even if it seems that he has caught the turnover bug from Rowe. Hills will have to be careful when throwing against Iowa defensive back Desmond King, who is second in the country with six interceptions.

(Photo by: Baltimore Sun)

(Photo by: Baltimore Sun)

The one thing Hills has going for him is his positive experience he had last year against Iowa. After C.J. Brown went out due to injury, Hills, with a major assist from receiver phenom Stefon Diggs, put Maryland up by two possessions late in the fourth quarter with a 53-yard touchdown pass. Sadly, the game changing, play making ability of Diggs no longer resides in College Park.

These days, Maryland has turned into a run-heavy offense when switching back over to Hills under center, because of the quarterback’s ability to scramble and accelerate away from defenders. Hills has successfully rushed for 294 yards — averaging nearly six yards a rush — and three touchdowns.

Unfortunately, Iowa has the fourth best rushing defense in the country as they allow an average of just 74.1 yards per game. We have seen how Hills can get stifled under pressure of having to run a one-dimensional offense if the run game is not working. Things get worse when you understand that many of Hills’ completions in the pass game are a result of play-action passes instead of traditional drop back throws.

Even though Iowa’s leading rusher, Jordan Canzeri, went down with a sprained ankle two weeks ago against Northwestern, the Hawkeyes did not miss a beat in the running game behind their massive offensive line. Junior running back Akrum Wadley stepped right in and had him a whale of a game, rushing for 204 yards and four touchdowns.

So whether it is Canzeri — who last rushed for 256 yards against Illinois — or Wadley, the Maryland front seven will have their hands full. Luckily with the return of Roman Braglio, the Terps did an effective job last week against the Penn State’s young phenom, Saquon Barkley, who they contained to just 65 yards on 20 carries.

Iowa’s run heavy offense actually plays into the hands of the Terps, because their secondary was absolutely put out to dry against Penn State, being beaten consistently for big plays down the field. That is why it is a good thing that Iowa junior quarterback C.J. Beathard is far from PSU’s Christian Hackenberg in talent.

Rather than being called upon to be the playmaker in the offense, Beathard is more of a game manager, and usually does not fare well when having to throw the ball more than 30 times in a game. Similarly to Hills, Beathard is not the most accurate, but he is smart with the footballm as evidenced by his mere three interceptions.

It is hard to see Maryland knocking off a ranked team on the road that is actually playing for a shot at not only challenging Ohio State for the Big Ten championship, but also with College Football Playoff aspirations. Stranger things have happened, though, and the Terps have been competitive in recent weeks. However, it might not be until the final two weeks of the season before Maryland has a realistic chance of picking up a conference victory.

Prediction: Maryland Terrapins 17, Iowa Hawkeyes 31

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.

Comments

  1. I’m here to comment on your thoughts of CJ Beathard as an Iowa fan. It’s clear to me that you haven’t watched enough film on CJ. The stats don’t tell the story considering he has played hurt most of the season. Almost being ruled out of a couple games. The coaches are calling plays around his nagging injuries. Believe it or not, CJs only knock was being too aggressive on deep balls. He always looked to go deep. He has since taken what the defense has given him but he can burn you at any time. He is by far our best player on on offense. Christian Hackenberg is NOT by far more talented and honestly, I’d take CJ any day. Christian was the best QB out of HS and has simply underperformed. But he is still being talked about for this reason. The game manager part makes me laugh too. I think you are mistaking him for Jake Rudock. Beathard will burn you deep with his arm and he loves to run. Look up his 3rd down conversions running the ball. He’s the full package at QB when it comes to his arm/legs. Once a healthy CJ comes around, you will see the opposite of everything you described. My rant is over but you are the first person I’ve seen say something of this nature about Beathard. Check out Narduzzi’s comments on CJ.

  2. Mark Jordan says:

    Can you give me an example of a game in which Beathard has thrown more than 30 times and not fared well? The guy is unbeaten as a starter. Game manager? Have you even watched him play? Iowa is near the top of the league in big plays. Iowa’s game manager QB now plays for Michigan.

  3. You do realize CJ has a completion percentage of 61%, Hackenberg’s is 51%…. Beathard also has a QB rating of 137.2, and a QBR of 72.5, Hackenberg is at 129.6, and a QBR of 44…. On top of that Beathard averages more yards passing per game, has 200 yards rushing an 3 tds on the ground, and he’s been playing the last month with a pulled groin. Why don’t you at least do you job…..

    • So just for reference CJ Beathard has a higher completion %, averages more passing yards per game, averages more yards per attempt, has a higher passer rating, his QBR blows the doors off Hackenbergs, and he can run……. But he’s far from as talented?

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