5 observations from Maryland football’s loss against Iowa


Maryland football traveled to Iowa to take on the undefeated Hawkeyes on Saturday afternoon. Here are our five observations from the loss:

  • Drive-killing turnovers – No matter who was under center for the Terrapins, the story has remained the same. Turnovers are killing potential Maryland scoring drives, and it was no different on Saturday afternoon in Iowa City against the No. 10 Hawkeyes. The game got started off Maryland’s way as Iowa took the ball down to the 27-yard line, but kicker Marshall Koehn missed a 45-yard field goal. On the ensuing drive, Perry Hills completed a 14-yard pass to Malcolm Culmer then followed it up with a 14-yard run of his own. On the next play, Hill ran the read option where he drew the defense towards him then quickly pitched the football off to running back Brandon Ross. Ross turned upfield and gain eight yards, but was then stripped by Greg Mabin. Local product Miles Taylor ended up with the recovery and Iowa took the ball down and scored. While it was their first drive of the game, it was a chance for Maryland to make a statement. In a tight game against a highly-touted opponent, you need to take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way.
  • Defense shows up – This has been a hot-and-cold unit throughout the season. For example, Maryland had success stopping the run and rushing the quarterback last week against Penn State. However, Christian Hackenberg was able to pick the defense apart on intermediate throws. On Saturday, Maryland did a decent job stopping the run. The Hawkeyes only averaged 2.5 yards-per-carry and no rusher accumulated more than 67 yards. They did rack up three touchdowns, but those came when Iowa was already near the goal line due to lengthy drives. Through the air, Iowa didn’t record any plays longer than 26 yards or have a touchdown reception. The pass rush also picked up right where it left off as the Terps tallied four sacks, including 1.5 by star defensive end Yannick Ngakoue. Maryland has moved up to second in the conference in sacks with 3.5 per contest and 28 total. Only Penn State has gotten to the quarterback more times with 36 sacks. It seems that if the pass coverage can hold their own, Maryland always has a chance. If not for a few turnovers, the Terps may have knocked off Iowa.
  • Hills and wideouts not on the same page -There’s no doubt that Hills has helped Maryland’s ground game immensely. Hills became the first Terp to rush for 100 yards in three consecutive games since Lance Ball back in 2005. As successful as Hills has been on the ground, he hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire through the air. Saturday’s game was no different as he only completed 11-of-22 passes for a meager 74 yards and three interceptions against the Hawkeyes. He did manage to find Taivon Jacobs in the back of the end zone in the fourth quarter, which put Maryland on the scoreboard. A majority of the time, Hills just seemed to have balls sail and really wasn’t in sync with many of his wide receivers. For example, Maryland was trailing 21-0 in the third quarter and Hills attempted to hit DeAndre Lane deep in Iowa territory. Hills badly overthrew Lane and the ball went into the waiting arms of Jordan Lomax for a very deflating interception. When down 21 points, that’s a throw that quarterbacks can’t risk being picked off. If that throw is made, it’s a whole new ballgame. The very same goes for the pass that Desmond King took back for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Hills just has to be more accurate if Maryland wants to get a few more marks in the win column in 2015.
  • Will Likely – No matter how bad the offense performs, cornerback Will Likely always has a chance to make an impact. Saturday was different as he provided multiple highlight reel returns that set Maryland up with great field position. Likely averaged 36.7 yards-per-return and was the main highlights of Maryland’s day when he took a kickoff back 100 yards in the fourth quarter. It was the second time that he accomplished such a feat in his career. It’s very clear that Likely has the chops to be playing on Sundays and could be an impact player right away, much like former Terp Stefon Diggs has been in 2015. It’ll be interesting to see if he departs College Park after his junior season or sticks around for a fourth year.
  • Pritchard improves – When Nathan Renfro elected to transfer to Tennesee after the 2014 season, the punter position was immediately clouded with mystery. Freshman Nicolas Pritchard has struggled at times this season, but really had a strong outing on Saturday. Pritchard booted six punts for 270 yards, which was good for a 45-yard average. The New Jersey native’s previous long was 55 yards against Ohio State. The only blemish against Iowa was at the end of the first half when he had a punt partially blocked. If Pritchard can continue this positive momentum, Maryland’s special teams unit will get a huge boost.