Maryland football: No reason for COVID-ravished Terps to hang heads after loss; focus must be forward
After missing three weeks of action due to a COVID-19 outbreak, Maryland would’ve loved nothing more than to come into Indiana and pull off an upset against the upstart Hoosiers.
Maryland admirably kept the game close for a half with just a 7-3 deficit going into the third quarter. However, the effects of rust and being significantly short-handed eventually were too much to overcome, as Maryland (2-2) fell 27-11 in their much anticipated return.
Maryland was extremely sloppy and it significantly hindered its chances against a talented Indiana squad that could be headed to the B1G title game. Maryland threw 3 interceptions, had a safety, and committed 8 penalties.
It’s going to always be hard to win with those kind of impediments, let alone while being down so many players.
While it was a loss on the scoreboard, Maryland merely getting back on the field after a 21-day delay was the most important outcome on Saturday. That’s not to say that losses should be excused, but this defeat isn’t any indicator of Maryland’s future potential.
With so many players sidelined, Maryland deserves a pass for losing to Indiana (5-1). What matters more is that Maryland had the opportunity to gain more reps and experience as it attempts to establish a new culture under coach Mike Locksley.
Unfortunately, the pandemic has dramatically altered the college football landscape. That being said, you won’t find Maryland making any excuses.
Locksley’s accountability in these rough times proves he’s the right man to turn Maryland around.
“I want to give Indiana credit. Tom Allen and his staff had their team prepared to play today. Obviously, we have had a challenging couple of weeks here, but it is my job as the leader to have us prepared,” Locksley said. “I thought two of the three phases of our team came in and executed as if we were prepared, and the one phase, offensively, didn’t. I didn’t feel like we were prepared, and I didn’t do a good job getting this team ready.”
Maryland started the game with a promising 12-play drive that unfortunately ended with a missed field goal. Later in the first quarter, Maryland came up without points after an overthrow by Taulia Tagovailoa in the end zone.
Maryland didn’t score a touchdown until Tagovailoa found Dontay Demus Jr. for a 43-yard reception with 3:34 remaining.
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) November 28, 2020
The Maryland defense performed admirably in the first half, forcing 6 punts and allowing a lone touchdown. Then with Indiana 5 yards from the end zone on their opening drive of the second half, Maryland snuffed out a fourth-down run play.
Maryland regressed to allow 20 points the rest of the way.
So, yeah, it was a certainly a case of the good, bad, and the ugly. Ultimately though, it’s better to learn hard lessons on the field than to be forced to sit idly. At least Maryland has some new tape to review.
Maryland entered the season with virtually no expectations; and after getting crushed by Northwestern in its opener, the bar was lowered even more by many. Maryland then responded with impressive back-to-back wins against Minnesota and Penn State. Maryland’s games the last two weeks vs. Ohio State and Michigan State had to be cancelled because of its rash of COVID-19 cases.
Add it all up and it’s definitely been a rollercoaster of emotions in this unprecedented season.
“We know COVID-19 is going to be an issue,” Locksley said. “You knew that all year long. We’ve tried to develop our team to manage it and to find ways to mitigate it. You know, we finally got it under control and hopefully this week we can get back to a little normalcy within our routine or our preparation.
“You can get the tape watched here today and get this thing corrected and things fixed, and then move our team forward as we move up, move throughout the scheduling this week.”
Which brings us to the present and what to expect as we head down the stretch of the regular season. After all that’s transpired, to sit at 2-2 with two games left in the regular season is an accomplishment for a Maryland team that finished last season with a 3-9 record.
With Saturday’s game against Michigan now canceled, Maryland closes out the year at home vs. Rutgers. Even without its full roster, its a winnable contest. Throw in a win in the Champions Week game, and the Terrapins could finish the season with a 4-2 record.
Winding up over .500 will give Maryland excellent momentum into what the Terps hope will be a much more stable 2021 season.