Maryland football was simply outplayed and outcoached in its 59-18 loss to No. 6 Michigan on Saturday afternoon.
From mishaps on special teams to the Terps continuing to make the same mistakes, here are three takeaways from a gloomy day at Capital One Field.
Special teams mishaps piled up.
There was a lot that went wrong for Maryland against the Wolverines. The Terps’ performance on special teams stood out the most.
With Maryland facing a fourth-and-4 on Michigan’s 30-yard line during its first drive of the game, the Terps elected to kick a 48-yard field goal instead of going for it. Senior kicker Joseph Petrino missed, making him 10-for-15 on the season.
Late in the second quarter, Maryland’s punt was blocked by Michigan receiver Matt Torey, and the Wolverines took over on the Terps’ 42-yard line. Michigan took advantage of the short field position and scored on a 13-yard touchdown reception by receiver Mike Sainristil, which extended its lead to 21-3 with 2:51 left in the first half.
During a kickoff return in the third quarter, Michigan linebacker Michael Barrett threw a lateral pass to sophomore wide receiver A.J. Henning, who raced down the field for a 79-yard touchdown that made it 38-10.
Entering Saturday’s game, Maryland ranked 100th out of 130 Football Bowl Subdivision programs in special teams efficiency according to ESPN’s SP+ ratings. Simply put, the Terps have not gotten the job done under special teams coordinator Ron Zook, a former head coach at Florida and Illinois who was promoted this year after serving as an analyst for two seasons.
“This game got blown open with our special teams play,” Maryland coach Mike Locksley said. “We’ve had some games where our special teams play well, so they’re no different than offense or defense. Today just wasn’t our day on special teams.”
Maryland’s running game had its best performance in a while.
The Terps had an impressive afternoon running the ball, as they outgained the Wolverines 181-151 on the ground. This was Maryland’s second straight game recording 100 or more rushing yards, and the first time it recorded more rushing yards than its opponent since Week 2 against Howard.
Senior running back Tayon Fleet-Davis rushed for 71 yards on 11 carries, while freshman running back Colby McDonald showed promise, totaling 68 yards on 11 carries.
Junior quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa also rushed for 30 yards on eight carries, including a 17-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter that cut the deficit to 38-18.
Maryland keeps making the same mistakes.
Whether it is because of a lack of discipline, focus or simply not paying close attention to game film, the Terps keep making the same mistakes week after week.
It’s Week 12, and Locksley is still talking to his players about committing costly penalties. The Terps committed eight penalties Saturday, including three in the red zone during the first quarter that forced them to settle for a field goal. The Terps have committed eight or more penalties in six of their 11 games this season.
With less than two minutes remaining in the third quarter, Michigan receiver Donovan Edwards took advantage of a busted coverage and scored on a 77-yard touchdown reception.
Tagovailoa had his moments, setting the Maryland record for most completions in a single season, but he overthrew sophomore tight end Corey Dyches twice in the end zone during the second quarter and threw a pick-six with 34 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
Maryland also struggled mightily on third down, going 3-for-14.
“The execution starts with coaching and then starts with players doing their job,” Locksley said. “We have great plans in place when we play good teams. For us, [it’s on] our players and their focus [in] understanding that they’ve got a job to do as well.”
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