Terps Football: 5 Thoughts Before Maryland/Indiana
Opponent: Indiana Hoosiers (3-4, 0-4 Big Ten Conference)
Location: Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium (51,802)
Date: Saturday, September 28, 2017
Time: 3:30 PM ET
TV/Radio Broadcasts: Big Ten Network, Maryland Sports Radio Network
Series Record: 4-1 Indiana
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It’s homecoming weekend at the University of Maryland, and campus is set to be filled with a plethora of alumni (including this Class of ’16 alumnus). The Terrapins will be looking to end a three-game losing streak on Saturday afternoon against Indiana. The Hoosiers have won 2 of the 3 games played between these two teams since Maryland joined the conference.
1. Get Back On Track
After losing their last three games, the Terrapins have a chance to get back on track with a win over Indiana. A win would get the team’s record back to .500 and build their confidence before the tough stretch of upcoming games. There ought to be a big homecoming crowd on hand, and Durkin will surely be reminding his team of last year’s game against the Hoosiers which saw them run all over the Terrapins for over 400 yards. Indiana has yet to win a conference game this season, but they’ve played very well against Michigan and Michigan State in their last two matchups.
2. Last Week Wasn’t Terrible
After the 62-14 drubbing that the Terrapins suffered at the hands of Ohio State three weeks ago, many people were expecting more of the same against a higher-ranked Wisconsin squad. And while the game wasn’t very close, the team was able to fight a bit better against the Badgers. The defense forced two turnovers in the game, and the offense was able to run the ball well for the first time in weeks. Running backs Ty Johnson and Lorenzo Harrison each averaged over 5 yards per carry, and Harrison was featured a lot on screen passes. Offensive coordinator Walt Bell said to expect more screens as they continue to tweak the offensive scheme for sophomore quarterback Max Bortenschlager.
3. Get Better on Third Down
One of the most glaring issues with the Terrapins as a team this season has been the defense’s inability to get off of the field on third down. They are one of the worst third down defenses in the country, and things were no different last week as Wisconsin converted 8 of their 13 third down chances. Something curious that I’ve noticed this season is the number of times that defensive coordinator Andy Buh calls zone coverages when the offense is facing a third and short. It’ll be interesting to see whether or not he gets more aggressive this week when Indiana is facing similar situations.
4. Taivon Jacobs Stepping Up
Recently, I was clamoring for some fresh blood among the wide receivers on the roster due to a lack of production from DJ Moore’s supporting cast. Over the course of the last two weeks, Taivon Jacobs seems to be stepping up to fill that #2 role behind Moore. Jacobs has caught touchdown passes in each of his last two games, bring his season total up to three. He was the team’s leading receiver against Wisconsin, catching 5 passes for 45 yards. Bortenschlager desperately needs another weapon at his disposal other than Moore, and if Jacobs could fill that role it would open things up for everyone offensively.
5. Enjoy It While You Can
While this week and next week feature winnable games for the Terrapins, the final three weeks of the season look brutal. The team will host Michigan and Penn State, and travel to East Lansing, MI to face Michigan State. While the Wolverines have fallen off of the map a bit recently, the Nittany Lions and the Spartans are extremely talented teams having plenty of success this season. If Durkin’s team can get on a roll by beating Indiana and Rutgers, their game against Michigan could be interesting.