Sep 27, 2014; Bloomington, IN, USA; Maryland Terrapins quarterback C.J. Brown (16) runs with the ball during the first quarter against the Indiana Hoosiers at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports
Maryland opened the Big Ten portion of their schedule with a statement 37-15 win on the road against Indiana on Saturday. The Terrapins looked better than they had through the first four games. I take a closer look at the game, and assess what can taken away.
1.) The quarterback position – C.J. Brown had been up and down before turning in an outstanding performance against Syracuse last week. In an injury-shortened game against Indiana, Brown completed 10-of-15 passes for 163 yards and a touchdown, while rushing for a touchdown. He made it a point to get the ball to his playmakers in wideouts Stefon Diggs and Deon Long while still mixing it the ground attack with running back Brandon Ross. However, backup Caleb Rowe looked just as strong. Rowe completed 12-of-18 passes for 198 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Rowe looked to have complete command of the offense, and ran it with absolute fluidity. Even if Brown can’t go against Ohio State next Saturday, the Terps should be in good hands with Rowe under center.
2.) Brandon Ross needs to be more involved – In the first quarter, running back Brandon Ross carried the ball four times, and looked incredible out of the read-option offense. For the next three quarters, Ross only saw two more carries. For a player with the explosiveness of Ross, these numbers need to be much higher. The junior did end up with 61 yards on the ground, but only on six rushes. Maryland did use Wes Brown quite a bit as he had 15 carries (only gained 34 yards). Offensive coordinator Mike Locksley could make his offense even more lethal if he gets Ross involved in the future. The running game is going to have to make a big impact when the Terps face some of the elite teams that the Big Ten has to offer.
3.) Getting pressure on the quarterback – Maryland has had issues getting consistent pressure on the quarterback throughout the first four games of the season. The Terps tied a season-high in sacks as they brought down Hoosiers signal caller Nate Sudfeld on three separate occasions. Linebacker Yannick Ngakoue was one of the most impressive players on the field as he was in Sudfeld’s face constantly. Fellow linebacker Cole Farrand was definitely the star of Maryland’s defensive effort as he recorded 19 tackles, including two for a loss. The Terps did all of this without linebacker Matt Robinson and cornerback Alvin Hill (now out for the season). The defensive line’s success was especially refreshing because Indiana didn’t have a single starter on their offensive line that hasn’t started double digit games in their collegiate careers.
4.) Second consecutive game without a turnover – Turnovers are a huge part of where football games are won and lost. For the second consecutive game, Maryland didn’t turn the ball over, and haven’t done so in 11 quarters. In fact, it’s the first time in Randy Edsall that Maryland hasn’t turned the ball over in a game. It’s huge given that turnovers have been an issue for C.J. Brown (three interceptions) and Ross (two fumbles against South Florida) have had their issues with ball security so far this season. When facing the bulk of the Big Ten schedule, hanging onto possession of the football is going to be monumental.
5. Still a work in progress in stopping the run – Despite obtaining an easy victory against Indiana, Maryland still had their issues stopping the running game at times. Running back Tevin Coleman still managed to rush for 122 yards on 22 carries. In games against South Florida, West Virginia, and Indiana, the Terps surrendered 97.7 yards-per-game on the ground. Running backs Marlon Mack, Rushel Shell, and Coleman are some of the most talented runners in their respective conferences, but Maryland still needs to do a better job in slowing down the run game. With backs like Ezekiel Elliott, Bill Belton, and Melvin Gordon ahead on the schedule, the Terps will need to batten down the hatches, and slow down the opposing team’s primary tailback going forward.