The Maryland Terrapins struggles against the Penn State Nittany Lions continued Friday night. The visitors took all of the air out the stadium early on, making the Maryland “Blackout” nearly obsolete by halftime.
Two early turnovers by Maryland’s Josh Jackson, both were bad decisions that led to interceptions. Each time, the visitors capitalized on the turnovers and scored.
Down 14-0 in the first quarter, the Terrapins had a chance to get on the board and settle in a bit. That’s when Jackson’s second interception happened and there was no coming back from it. Penn State marched 95 yards down the field for a score and that was the theme of the night.
The visitors got good field position and the momentum from their defense allowed them to really open the playbook and attack the Terps on all levels. Penn State’s Sean Clifford had a career night with 398 yards on 26-of-31 passing, with three touchdowns and one interception. Wideout KJ Hamler had six catches for 108 yards and a touchdown, much of which came in the first half.
The Nittany Lions trio of linebackers set the tone in this one, Jackson has struggled mightily this season when facing teams with NFL caliber backers. The Temple game was the first in which that happened, last night was the other. Cam Brown, Jan Johnson, and Micah Parsons impacted this game on a regular basis. It wasn’t necessarily in the box score, but what they were able to take away from Maryland’s signal callers. They took away the middle of the field and at times provided pressure up the middle.
As for the Terps, Jackson and their other signal callers have to be better. The offensive scheme gives them a checkdown nearly on every passing play, but they don’t do a good job of taking the easy completion. Anthony McFarland is a very dynamic player once the ball is in his hands, Maryland has to take advantage of that more often. Once the checkdown is taken a few times and he creates plays, the defense will adjust which will open up things for others.
The visitors gained 619 yards of offense to Maryland’s 128 yards, showing just how costly all three of Maryland’s turnovers were.
It’s just one game, but the past couple iterations of Maryland teams have struggled with this opponent. It’s just the fourth game of the Locksley era, it will be interesting to see how they respond from this resounding defeat. The Terrapins fall to 2-2 on the year and 0-1 in Conference play.