Maryland defense to ramp up aggressiveness after flat performance against Rutgers

Maryland sophomore Isaiah Davis said he and the team’s other linebackers are trying to “set the tone in practice” heading into this week’s home game against Michigan. It follows a disappointing performance by the defense in last week’s 31-24 loss at Rutgers.

“I guess the best word to say is, we’re trying to be violent again,” Davis said Wednesday. “If you watch last week, we weren't violent at all, we were getting held, we were staying on blocks, they were just driving the ball down the field.”


Despite a career-high 11 tackles against the Scarlet Knights, Davis was disappointed by his own performance.

“They weren’t the kind of tackles I’d like to make. A lot of them were downfield,” Davis said. “I feel like I could have played a little more aggressive, coming downhill. I feel like I was watching the play develop a little too long and not being as reactive.”


Weeks after hearing from Big Ten about blown calls by officials, Maryland coach DJ Durkin didn't challenge the call on a potential tying touchdown against Rutgers.

Davis, the younger brother of former Maryland standout and Pittsburgh Steelers defensive back Sean Davis, made a rare admission, saying during media availability with local reporters that the Terps might have not given Rutgers the proper respect.

“It was obviously disappointing, losing to Rutgers after that big win against Indiana,” Davis said. “I don’t know. I think the whole team just came out flat on Saturday. We just felt we expected to win. And we just underestimated their run game.”

Asked how a team that has struggled defensively for most of the season could take any opponent lightly, Davis said, “I feel like just because of how dominant we were against them last year, we kind of took this game a little more lightly than we should have.”

Maryland won 31-13 at home last season.

On Saturday, the Scarlet Knights rushed for 239 yards and two touchdowns on 46 carries, pounding the Terps early in turning a 7-0 deficit into a 17-7 lead and then again in the fourth quarter after Maryland built a 24-17 advantage.

It was the second-most rushing yards the defense has surrendered this season, behind only Ohio State’s 281 on 50 carries.

“We just weren’t getting off blocks,” defensive coordinator Andy Buh said Wednesday. “We had guys in position at times, most of the time, we just weren’t making the play. It goes back to the start of the week and the entire week of practice and into the game. We could have probably [done] a lot of things better.”

With a shoulder injury possibly sidelining sophomore Max Bortenschlager, walk-on Ryan Brand could become the fourth different quarterback to start for Terps this season.

Davis said the Terps should take a different mindset into Saturday’s game at Maryland Stadium. The Wolverines rank third in the Big Ten in rushing offense (213.2 yards a game). Given that Michigan’s passing offense ranks 11th, it’s easy to assume that Jim Harbaugh will continue to pound the ball on the ground.

“Michigan’s a really good team, especially up front. We know they have a young quarterback [sophomore Brandon Peters], so they’re going to try to run the ball a lot,” Davis said. “So we’ve got to be more disciplined, play hard up front. Linebackers have got to be disciplined in our gaps. … We’ve just got to play our kind of football. We’ve got to play hard for 60 minutes.”

Buh conceded that the Terps did not play with urgency nor efficiency against Rutgers.

“We weren’t very excited as a team, how we all played, how we all coached as an entire organization. Rutgers got the better end of us,” Buh said Wednesday. “Every facet of the preparation and the execution could have been better.”

Asked if it’s frustrating to have the same mistakes repeat themselves nearly every week, Buh said, “It makes things exhausting for both the player and the coach. But we’ve got to keep pressing forward, keep coming up with better ways to do things. We don’t believe the way we’re doing things are wrong, we’ve just got to do them better.”

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