Bowling Green stymies Maryland running game

Entering this season, Maryland trumpeted its bulked up offensive line as a reason for optimism in its second year in the Big Ten Conference. Coach Randy Edsall complimented the Terps' adjustment to their new "linemen league" and it was expected to bring significant returns with veterans Brandon Ross and Wes Brown running behind it.

Through one game, it looked like the Terps were reaping the benefits. They rushed for 341 yards in their season opener against Richmond and averaged 7.6 yards per carry.


But on a rainy Saturday against Bowling Green, Maryland couldn't muster much of a push up front, and it showed. Ross and Brown combined to rush 17 times for 63 yards, an average of 3.7 yards per carry. Quarterback Perry Hills boosted the rushing numbers by gaining a career-high 94 yards on the ground on eight carries.

The Terps said a slight adjustment along the Bowling Green defensive line made things more difficult for them in the trenches against a team that surrendered 399 yards rushing a week ago.

"They ended up moving the front a little bit," Edsall said. "A thing that we saw. We just weren't able to sustain some blocks and do some of the things that we wanted to do. We knew that they would try to do that."

After showing a decisive streak against Richmond and rushing for a career-high 150 yards, Ross rushed for just 10 yards on eight carries. His long run was seven, and half of his eight carries went for either no or negative gain. The Bowling Green defense forced him to the outside, stringing out plays and preventing him from getting to the corner.

Brown's longest run came in the first quarter when he took a handoff, ran right, trucked a Falcons defender and gained 14 yards and a first down. The Terps leaned on him in the second quarter when he carried five times on a seven-play drive that led to a Brad Craddock field goal to put the Terps up 13-6.

But on third-and-1 from the Bowling Green 2-yard line, the Falcons defense stiffened, and Brown was knocked back for a loss of three yards. It was a surprising defeat for a running back who has been productive in short yardage for the Terps in his career. Last season, all six of Brown's touchdown runs were from two yards out or less.

And then there was Hills. The quarterback talked about improving his athleticism in the offseason, and it showed. He's nimble in the pocket and can feel pressure and read the running lanes. He had rushes of 36 and 22-yard yards, which gave the Terps an element many thought they'd be missing after the departure of the speedy C.J. Brown this offseason.

"They did a good job covering receivers," Hills said. "And the one play they were in man coverage and I had an opening to run because no one has the quarterback on that, so I took the opportunity to run."

Maryland will see bigger and badder defensive lines and linebackers than Bowling Green's in the Big Ten. There was much reason for optimism after last week's performance. But the Terps showed they can be dominated up front, and when they can't establish the run game, there's a ripple effect. Maryland couldn't stay on the field, which exposed them to a Bowling Green offense that eventually ran 105 plays and wore the defense down.

Moving forward, Maryland will have to develop a consistent ground attack to continue to compete in the Big Ten.



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