With a bowl opportunity officially out of the picture, the Maryland football team is still motivated.
The Terrapins haven’t recorded a victory since defeating South Florida 35-17 back on Sept. 19. However, the mindset is still a positive one despite the adversity.
“I said to the guys that obviously our goal is to prolong the season,” coach Mike Locksley said. “We won’t be able to extend our season with the bowl opportunity, but as I told the guys, this is also the start for young players. I really feel that this could be the nucleus for a team that could contend for a Big Ten Championship, and that they have to continue to prepare, give the effort of that type of team, and as I told the seniors, this is their legacy.”
On Maryland’s latest two-deep depth chart, there are 10 offensive players that are sophomores or younger while there’s nine on the defensive side of the football. Among those are some of Maryland’s biggest contributors this season, including linebackers Jalen Brooks and Jermaine Carter, tight end Avery Edwards, and wide receiver D.J. Moore.
“We still have the opportunity to make the best out of this situation,” Locksley added. “We’re not going to do much forecasting – we’re going to focus on the task at hand which is Michigan State. I think our guys have really bought into sticking to this thought process. We have a great opportunity against a ranked team, and our players are excited about it.”
The Terps will travel to East Lansing on Saturday for a matinee with No. 14 Michigan State.
“It is going to be a great experience,” wide receiver Levern Jacobs said. “Going into that stadium, going against the number 14 team in the nation. We are going to come in fighting. We are not going to lie down for any team. They are going to get the best of us. I am pretty sure we are going to get the best of them. Now that we are not eligible for a bowl, from here on out we are going to treat every game like a bowl game. They are going to see a good team out of us.”
Maryland is certainly going to have a chance to make some noise on Saturday, seeing that the Spartans have a depleted secondary. Cornerback Vayante Copeland (fractured vertebra) and R.J. Williamson (torn bicep) are out for the rest of the season, and Michigan State was forced to start three freshman defensive backs in a 39-38 loss against Nebraska this past weekend.
“I feel like we have to take advantage of every opportunity,” wideout DeAndre Lane said. “When we see a weakness we have to take advantage of it. I feel like we can throw the ball a lot more. They give up a lot of passing yards. We also have a strong running game. So both will be equal.”
Cornerback Darian Hicks has also missed the last three games with a concussion, but signs point to a potential return against Maryland this weekend.
Maryland is going to leave it all out on the field and has every reason to be confident as they travel to East Lansing. The Spartans currently rank No. 10 in the Big Ten in pass defense, yielding 249.8 yards-per-game through the air.
There’s certainly yards to be had through the air, especially with young personnel.
“We need to continue to improve the consistency of our possession passing game – we just haven’t been as consistent in our base pass and attack with making the right decisions on the right kind of footballs.” Locksley added.