The Mike Locksley era of Maryland football officially began today with the home opener against the visiting Howard Bison.
Their offensive execution lacked on the first possession of the game, but from there they were nearly flawless. The Terrapins moved to a 3-4 on the defensive side and they weren’t stressed at any point during this contest. It was a dominant showing by the defense and an explosive outing for the offense, resulting in a 79-0 win. They put up a program record 56 points in the first half.
The Bison seemed overmatched from the very start, resembling nothing of last year’s team where they couldn’t be overlooked just because they were a MEAC team.
The Terps were able to generate a pass rush without sacrificing coverage and the somewhat predictable Howard offense didn’t help matters. They got after Caylin Newton(2017 MEAC Rookie of the Year, 2018 MEAC Offensive Player of the Year), once the ball was snapped he either had to protect himself or look down the field. Regardless of the decision he wasn’t given much time to do either.
It was also the Terrapin debut for former Virginia Tech signal caller Josh Jackson. He looked right at home in Locksley’s offense, showing off his arm with several touch throws and strikes in the opening quarter.
The Bison came out with the intent to stop the run game, routinely sending more players than Maryland could block. The “zero pressures” as Locksley cited, required Maryland to show that they’re more than capable of passing the ball well. They went empty several times, using the quick passing game to counter the pressure from Howard.
Jackson became the first Maryland signal caller since 2013 to throw three touchdowns in the first half, he accomplished this early in the second quarter. He would throw touchdown number four with 1:30 left in the half, hitting a wide open Tyler Maybry down the right sideline. Jackson had amassed 245 yards and four touchdowns in the air by the end of the first half.
Due to the amount of pressure sent by the Bison, Anthony McFarland didn’t get a chance to get going on the ground. He got 18 yards on just six carries, but his fellow running backs got on track in the second half. Jake Funk and Tayon Fleet-Davis ran for 79 yards a piece.
“I was glad to be able to see us make adjustments and then get going with being able
to manage versus all the pressure they brought.” – Mike Locksley
Dontay Demus made his bid as one of Jackson’s favorite targets early in the contest, he finished the half and game with three catches for 100 yards, and two touchdowns. He did a good job of creating separation and showing off his ability to run after catch.
The Terps defense held the Bison offense to 15 total yards, while piling up five sacks en route to a first half shutout. They were very sound outside of a few plays, the longest play they gave up on the day was a 26 yard catch and run by Howard’s Khalid Dorsey. The front seven wreaked havoc for four quarters, ringing up eight sacks and 15 tackles for loss. For the game, the Terps defense held Howard’s offense to just 68 yards on 57 plays.
Locksley spoke about the importance of developing the players not on the starting unit for either side of the ball. That opportunity was given to several players today due to the game being that far out of reach. Despite the lopsided score, Maryland’s head coach talked about the need to clean up little things in all three phases.
Up next Maryland will face a stiffer test than Howard, next week they host 22nd ranked Syracuse.