Maryland Football: Three takeaways from Minnesota win

(Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)
(Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) /

The Maryland football team had their fair share of struggles in last week’s 38-10 loss to Central Florida.

With a week to prepare this time around, quarterback Max Bortenschlager led the Terrapins to a 31-24 win over Minnesota to open Big Ten play.

Maryland racked up 416 yards of total offense and established the running game early. The Terps rushed for 262 yards and averaged 5.6 yards-per-carry.

Ty Johnson bounced from a less-than-stellar outing last week to run for 130 yards and a score. Johnson’s 34-yard touchdown in the final moments lifted Maryland to the win.

The most important statistic is that the Terps didn’t turn the ball over at all. On the other hand, they came up with a pair of turnovers with interceptions from J.C. Jackson and Josh Woods.

Maryland was able to make enough plays to keep the chains moving. Let’s take a closer look at what made Maryland successful on Saturday.

Bortenschlager impresses

Bortenschlager definitely had his fair share of struggles in last week’s loss to Central Florida.

He certainly bounced back in a big way with a strong performance against Minnesota. Bortenschlager completed 18-of-28 passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns while also running for a touchdown on the ground.

The sophomore quarterback was aided by a stellar running game, especially in the early going. With 2:44 remaining in the opening quarter, Bortenschlager couldn’t find anybody open in the red zone and ran it in for a seven-yard touchdown.

Bortenschlager ended up rushing for 18 yards on four carries, which probably came as a surprise to some people.

One of the most impressive throws of the afternoon came in the second quarter. Bortenschlager found star wide receiver D.J. Moore in the corner of the end zone for a 27-yard touchdown.

Bortenschlager didn’t seemed phased by the moment and wasn’t sacked at all. This comes a week after being sacked five times at the hands of Central Florida.

It seemed like Bortenschlager played much better when the gameplan was tailored more to his skillset. Offensive coordinator Walt Bell called a flawless game that didn’t force Bortenschlager out of his comfort zone.

The schedule does get harder with Ohio State next week, but this is a great performance for Bortenschlager.

Run defense shuts Minnesota down

Minnesota came into Saturday’s game as the fourth-best running team in the Big Ten.

Well, that certainly didn’t phase Maryland as they held the Golden Gophers to just 2.6 yards-per-carry. Minnesota carried the ball 31 times for just 80 yards, which is far below their average.

Rodney Smith had 18 carries for 35 yards while Shannon Brooks registered just 39 yards on 12 carries. Each back did score a touchdown, but only from a yard out.

Maryland was very strong at the point of attack. As soon as a Minnesota runner was hit, he was stopped in his track and forced to the ground.

The Terps’ run defense hasn’t been terrible by any stretch, but this performance was definitely surprising. Minnesota doesn’t have the quickest backs, but both are very powerful and can accumulate plenty of yards-after-contact.

Considering Maryland has Ohio State up next on the schedule, this is a very big deal.

The Buckeyes are averaging a mind-boggling 241.0 yards-per-game on the ground and 6.2 yards-per-carry. Their 11 touchdowns rank second in the conference.

If Maryland can come with the same tenacity, they certainly stand a good chance to minimize some of the damage that Ohio State is capable of doing.

D.J. Moore continues to thrive

If you didn’t know how good D.J. Moore was before the season, you certainly know now.

The Maryland wide receiver had another strong performance on Saturday as he caught eight passes for 90 yards and a touchdown. He caught the 27-yard touchdown pass from Bortenschlager in the first half of Saturday’s contest.

Moore definitely can make an impact on deep routes. However, his ability as a possession receiver really helped the Terps in this game.

Bortenschlager obviously had a lot to prove from the Central Florida game. When throwing the football, he leaned on Moore, especially on third down. Three of Moore’s receptions came on third down.

Moore was often targeted near the sideline, so Bortenschlager wasn’t leaving himself vulnerable to interceptions.

Moore is so dangerous as a wideout. He can catch those short passes and make plays after the catch while also being a deep threat. For Bortenschlager, having a receiver like Moore is about as good a security blanket that a signal caller can have.

The Maryland star may end being the top wideout in the Big Ten when it’s all said and done this season. Moore currently leads the Big Ten in receptions (30), receiving yards (403), and receiving touchdowns (5).

Next: Late Ty Johnson touchdown lifts Terps

It’s pretty clear that Moore is going to have the best season of his collegiate career as a junior.