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Terps have a long way to go in Big Ten and more takeaways from Maryland football’s 66-17 loss to No. 7 Ohio State

Maryland football allowed No. 7 Ohio State to have a field day in its 66-17 loss on Saturday.

Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud threw the ball all over the field at Ohio Stadium while receivers Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson looked every bit like potential first-round picks in the 2022 NFL draft.

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The Terps, who were one of the top defensive teams in the Big Ten through the first four games, allowed the Buckeyes to amass 598 total yards. Stroud was responsible for most of them, throwing for 406 yards and five touchdowns.

Injuries continue to mount for Maryland (4-2, 1-2 Big Ten), as junior receiver Jeshaun Jones was carted off the field during the opening minutes of the first quarter with a knee injury. Jones’ injury comes a week after senior receiver Dontay Demus Jr. suffered a season-ending knee injury.

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Junior quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa looked much better after a disastrous 51-14 loss to then-No. 5 Iowa, throwing for 279 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions against the Buckeyes. Meanwhile, sophomore receiver Rakim Jarrett was silenced for the majority of the game, as he recorded just one reception for 43 yards and a touchdown.

The one positive from the Terps’ performance was that they only committed two penalties after recording 10 a week ago against the Hawkeyes.

Here are three takeaways from Maryland’s second straight blowout loss:

Maryland has a long way to go as a program.

After Maryland opened the season 4-0 for the first time since 2016, the Terps were hit with the harsh reality that they still have a long way to go to be competitive against the top teams in the Big Ten.

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Over the past two games, Maryland has allowed a combined 117 points and 1,026 total yards. Entering Saturday’s game, Ohio State had scored 350 points against Maryland in six recent meetings, the most by one Big Ten school against another over any six-game span in conference history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Maryland is 0-6 against top-15 opponents since Mike Locksley took over as head coach in 2019. In those games, the Terps have allowed 52.3 points per game.

“When you look at it, we played No. 5 [Iowa] and No. 7 [Ohio State] and we are obviously not there yet,” Locksley said. “We have a lot of work to do as a program, and it’s good to see just how far we’ve come sitting at 4-2 at the halfway point as we limp into the bye week. Through recruiting, roster development — we have a lot to do to compete at that level.”

Yes, the culture within the Terps football program has changed. But there’s still much work to be done for Maryland to go toe-to-toe with the elite programs in the conference. That won’t be a quick fix.

Ohio State’s receiving corps is too good.

With Maryland defensive backs Jakorian Bennett, Kenny Bennett and Deonte Banks out with injuries Saturday, Ohio State, which has two of the nation’s top receivers, feasted on the Terps’ depleted secondary.

Throughout the game, it seemed as if Stroud threw to an open receiver every time he dropped back to pass. In the second quarter, Olave slipped past two Maryland defenders to make a 36-yard touchdown grab. Even running back TreVeyon Henderson (four catches for 67 yards) was left open at times.

Sophomore cornerback Tarheeb Still had a rough outing. In the first quarter, Still got beat in the red zone by Wilson, who made a 2-yard touchdown catch to give Ohio State a 7-3 lead. With 12:26 left in the third quarter, Still was draped all over Olave, but the Buckeyes receiver was still able to come away with the 26-yard touchdown catch.

The trio of Olave, Wilson and receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba combined for 307 receiving yards. Olave led the way with 120 yards, Wilson had 84 yards and Njigba added 103 yards while averaging 20.6 yards per catch.

“Our coverage technique was obviously poor,” Locksley said. “We gave up too many yards. It was like 7 vs. 7 out there in the first half.”

Locksley said the Terps switched to Cover 2 in the second half to limit the deep plays, but even that didn’t work. Ohio State recorded 12 plays of 15 or more yards, four of which resulted in touchdowns.

Taulia Tagovailoa still has room to grow.

Tagovailoa’s performance against the Buckeyes was nothing like his five-interception night against Iowa. Despite missing Demus and Jones and facing constant pressure from Ohio State’s defensive line, Tagovailoa was solid through three quarters.

Tagovailoa, the brother of former Alabama star and Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, led an impressive scoring drive in the second quarter that resulted in a 7-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Carlos Carriere.

In the fourth quarter, however, Tagovailoa reverted back to his bad habit of forcing throws. With the Terps facing a third-and-26, Tagovailoa threw an interception to Ohio State’s Craig Young. On Maryland’s following drive, Tagovailoa threw another pick to Young, who returned the ball for a 70-yard touchdown with three minutes remaining in the game.

Locksley said Tagovailoa should’ve handed the ball off instead of forcing a throw that led to the pick-six. Locksley wants Tagovailoa to learn how to take what the defense gives him and understands those mistakes will help him grow as a quarterback.

“For three quarters, he played like the type of quarterback he knows he can be,” Locksley said. “I just would have loved for him to have finished the game making the great decisions, not forcing it, and trying to be competitive. We were trying to win the fourth quarter and that’s not what you do in that position.”

MARYLAND@MINNESOTA

Oct. 23, TBD

TV: TBD Radio: 105.7 FM

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