Three takeaways from Maryland football’s 73-14 loss at No. 1 Ohio State

From the effort on defense in the first half to Ohio State’s onside kick to how Mike Locksley should approach the last two games, here are three takeaways from the Maryland football team’s 73-14 loss Saturday at No. 1 Ohio State.

As good as the Buckeyes are on offense, it looked like the Terps were going through the motions defensively for much of the opening half.


There have been times in what is now a five-game losing streak when the defense looked motivated and, as Locksley has often said, “not playing to the scoreboard.”

Maryland did it for stretches in the second half after falling behind Indiana by two touchdowns early and by 10 in the third quarter. The Terps even did it after then-No. 14 Michigan became the third straight team to score the first two times it touched the ball against them, including a 97-yard return on the opening kickoff.


That did not happen at “The Horseshoe” on Saturday.

Helped by favorable field position the first two times they scored and by a Terps defense that spent too much time on the field, the Buckeyes wound up going 6-for-6 on touchdown drives before halftime.

Ohio State has bludgeoned several other teams this season, but the 42 points were its most at halftime in a Big Ten game this season and its second most in any first half, behind the 49 it scored in a 76-5 rout of Miami (Ohio) on Sept. 21.

As much as it had to do with the play of sophomore quarterback Justin Fields, who was 16-for-25 for 200 yards and three touchdowns, as well as Ohio State’s massive offensive line, which helped the Buckeyes eat up chunks of yardage on the ground, Maryland was pretty much defenseless the entire afternoon.

Fields not playing in the second half seemed only fair since the Terps defense didn’t play in the first half.

Just as the defense rarely got fired up under former defensive coordinator Andy Buh, who is now at Rutgers, it appears the same is true for Maryland’s defense under Jon Hoke. By the time the Terps did, when Keandre Jones sacked backup quarterback Chris Chugunov and forced a fumble early in the second half, the game was long over.

Only because Day pulled Fields for the second half, as well as running back J.K. Dobbins and a couple of receivers, did Maryland’s defense seem to have a chance to remain somewhat competitive in second half. But the kind of effort we saw at Purdue and Minnesota was on full display in Columbus.

“This is disappointing from Maryland’s side. They’ve been a total no-show today,” Fox analyst Joel Klatt said on the network’s telecast after a botched handoff between redshirt junior quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome and junior running back Tayon Fleet-Davis with under five minutes left.


The Buckeyes wasted a pretty good onside kick play in a meaningless game.

When Ohio State recovered a pooched onside kick while leading the Terps 14-0 in the first quarter and scored another touchdown, many were left scratching their heads. Even though Maryland was technically still in the game, did coach Ryan Day actually think he needed to use that kind of trick play?

It was much different than the fake punt Michigan ran last week at Maryland Stadium. Leading 14-0 and struggling on offense, the Wolverines ran a direct snap to a backup linebacker for a 14-yard gain from the Terps’ 27, then hit a 51-yard pass to set up a touchdown and a 21-0 lead.

Unless Maryland’s kickoff unit had some sort of unique alignment in setting up its return, it’s doubtful that Day can use that play again this season in much more meaningful games — perhaps even in the College Football Playoff.

As for the Terps, look for Nebraska to follow suit in College Park after Maryland’s bye week when the Cornhuskers visit Nov. 23. Even close-to-the-vest Michigan Sate coach Mark D’Antonio might even see the benefit of some trickery when the Spartans finish the regular season against the Terps on Nov. 30 in East Lansing.

For Maryland, what had been one of the few bright spots — the kickoff coverage and kickoff- and punt-return units — for a good chunk of the season has been something of an eyesore the past two weeks.


Is it time for Lance LeGendre to start at quarterback?

Locksley has been steadfast that he is not looking toward next season yet and is trying to coach — and coax — the Terps to win a couple of more games before his first season is over. To that end, he said last week that he thought graduate transfer Josh Jackson and Pigrome give the Terps the best chance to win.

It clearly hasn’t looked that way the past two months, even in the few games that were actually competitive. It’s certainly not completely the fault of the Maryland quarterbacks, given the state of an offensive line that has been banged up for much of the season and is, at best, average when healthy.

Jackson’s lack of mobility has been an issue since the Temple game, and having virtually no protection in front of him makes him a statue. Pigrome’s penchant for turnovers — he had two more against the Buckeyes — makes him a liability when games get tight.

Unless Locksley wants to give redshirt freshman Tyler DeSue another chance — he looked decent coming in after Pigrome was injured and Jackson was pulled after just one series in the 52-10 loss at then-No. 14 Minnesota two weeks ago — the only other choice is freshman Lance LeGendre.

With the Terps heading into a bye week, Locksley and offensive coordinator Scottie Montgomery will have a lot of time to get the former four-star prospect ready if they choose to start him in Maryland’s next game against Nebraska.


There’s a pretty good possibility that the Cornhuskers, who along with Northwestern might be the Big Ten’s most disappointing teams this season, will be coming to College Park with their own four-game losing streak after playing No. 13 Wisconsin next Saturday in Lincoln.

A promising performance by the LeGendre, who still seems to be more of a terrific athlete than a college quarterback at this stage, would at least give Maryland fans a little hope going into the season finale at Michigan State and into what looks like a much-needed offseason.


Nov. 23, TBA


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