Three takeaways from Maryland's 23-0 loss at No. 19 Iowa

Maryland interim coach Matt Canada wore a bit of a glazed look after Saturday’s 23-0 loss here at Kinnick Stadium. There was more than a little frustration in his voice.

Yet there was also a sense that Canada was not going to allow the Terps to be torn apart by a disheartening defeat that saw their defense let down all afternoon by their offense.

“We have to stick together as a football team,” Canada said. “Today was disappointing. Disappointing on me because I’m the guy calling the plays. I’m the guy doing it.

“We didn’t score any points. We didn’t move the ball. The blame is on me. But the challenge is to get up tomorrow, get off the mat, get ourselves ready to play, stick together and find a way to win a game.”

Maryland (4-3, 2-2 Big Ten) has a two-game homestand, playing Illinois Saturday and Michigan State on Nov. 3. The Terps need to win two of their remaining five games to be bowl eligible.

Here are three takeaways from Maryland’s loss at Iowa:

1. The offensive line needs to get a little tougher against better competition.

Much was made earlier this season when the Terps struggled to get their running game going against Temple with three starters out on the O-line, then dominated Minnesota up front with the return of guard Terrance Davis and tackle Derwin Gray.

While that was a reflection of how much better Davis and Gray are than their backups, it also had to do with the Gophers, who went from having a stout run defense before Big Ten play began to a below-average one since.

Since then, the Terps also did well running the ball against Rutgers, but have had problems against Michigan and Iowa. For Maryland to have a chance to get to six or even seven wins, it will have to be able to keep pounding the bad teams up front and get stronger against the good ones.

2. Maryland quarterbacks have to do a better job with ball security.

The Terps have made seven turnovers this season, including two against the Hawkeyes, and all have involved either redshirt freshman Kasim Hill or redshirt sophomore Tyrrell Pigrome.

Hill has four interceptions, including a pair that turned into a pick-six, and a fumble against Rutgers deep in his team’s territory that would have been costly had not the defense forced an interception on a deflected pass that was intercepted. Hill’s interception Saturday was not all his fault, since it appeared freshman wide receiver Brian Cobbs had run a technically sloppy route.

Pigrome has two turnovers, a fumble and an interception. While his fumble Saturday against the Hawkeyes that was recovered in the end zone for a touchdown was not entirely his fault either since he collided with Cobbs while faking a jet sweep, Pigrome gets a little too carefree with the ball at times and needs to take better care of a very important possession.

3. Canada has to figure out halftime.

Ever since the Terps scored 35 points after halftime and shut out Bowling Green in the second half of a 45-14 road win during the second week of the season, Maryland has struggled the first couple of offensive series after halftime away from College Park.

Canada vowed to clean up the problems that occurred early in the second half of the Oct. 6 loss at Michigan. The same issues reappeared Saturday at Iowa with what Canada likes to call no-talent penalties.

Making halftime adjustments in football is probably tougher than in basketball since there are more than twice the moving parts, especially for a first-time head coach who is still an interim. Doing it in rowdy road environments is also difficult, and Canada was not the only Big Ten coach to struggle Saturday away from home.

Just ask Urban Meyer.

don.markus@baltsun.com

twitter.com/sportsprof56

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad
34°