The Maryland football team didn’t have much offense during the first three quarters.
However, a long touchdown via the screen pass finally was able to get the Terrapins on the board.
It was definitely an interesting afternoon in Lincoln to say the least. Both Maryland and Nebraska started backup quarterbacks in Max Bortenschlager and Ryker Fyfe.
Minutes before kickoff, it was learned that Bortenschlager would be the starter. Obviously, that limited the gameplan a bit due to it being the freshman’s first career start.
Bortenschlager did a serviceable job running the offense and didn’t turn the football over. He targeted wideouts on a variety of crossing routes and took a few chances down the field.
However, it was a fourth quarter play that finally got the Terps on the board.
After a Nebraska punt put Maryland at their own seven-yard line, Bortenschlager and the Terps really had their backs against the wall. On the first play of the drive, running back Ty Johnson rushed for just a single yard.
On second-and-nine, Bortenschlager dropped back to pass out of the shotgun and hit star wideout D.J. Moore on a short jailbreak screen. Moore weaved his way across the field and made about five Cornhuskers miss on his way to the end zone for a 92-yard touchdown.
Moore’s touchdown was the longest by a Terp since 2006 when Darrius Heyward-Bey took one 96 yards. Maryland hadn’t put together many explosive plays all afternoon until Moore took it the distance.
Even with the offensive struggles in recent weeks, the Terps have had a decent amount of success with the screen pass.
In the Michigan game, Maryland really didn’t have a ton to write home about against the Wolverines. However, they did have a few successful plays via the screen game that were huge benefits for the offense.
The Terps were forced to punt on their drive. On their second drive, Ty Johnson lost five yards on a running play on the first play of the drive.
On the ensuing snap, quarterback Perry Hills fake the handoff out of the shotgun before dumping off a jailbreak screen pass to senior wide receiver Levern Jacobs. Jacobs then turned upfield and followed a convoy of Maryland blockers for a 32-yard gain.
The drive went 11 plays and shouldn’t resulted in points, but kicker Adam Greene clanked a routine 29-yard field goal off the upright.
On Maryland’s next drive, offensive coordinator Walt Bell called a similar screen going in the opposite direction. Hills began out of the shotgun once again and hit Moore, who was cutting towards the center of the field.
Moore was able to get a block from center Brendan Moore and turn it upfield for a 19-yard gain.
Maryland wasn’t able to turn the drive into points as they turned it over on downs. However, it proved to be a way to combat the tenacious Michigan pass rush.
It’s pretty clear that Maryland has the personnel to utilize the screen game a lot more often. In fact, Moore had a knack for taking screen passes the distance during his high school days at Imhotep (Pa.).
In addition, the Terps possess a very athletic offensive line that can get up and down the field. Guys like Moore and Damian Prince are certainly quick for their size and can excel in blocking on these types of plays.
If Maryland struggles in keeping the opposing pass rush at bay, it looks like the screen pass is one that can definitely work. It has worked against two Big Ten powerhouses in Michigan and Nebraska.
It’ll be worth watching to see if Maryland uses the screen game more often in their battle with Rutgers this coming weekend. Especially for the simple fact that the Scarlet Knights don’t exactly strike fear into their opponents after the abysmal season that they’ve had.
The speed on the outside is definitely there. Maryland just needs to find a way to utilize it.