Instant Reactions: Penn State 30, Maryland 0

In a long-awaited border matchup between Maryland and Penn State, Maryland was outmatched from beginning to end and fell to 6-4 (3-4) after a blowout 30-0 loss on the road. Breaking down the instant reactions:

New Game, Same Offensive Struggles

Despite Penn State without Curtis Jacobs and Joey Porter Jr., Maryland’s passing attack failed to throw for 100 yards for the second consecutive week. The Terps amassed just three total yards of offense and three three-and-outs through the first quarter as Taulia struggled getting the ball out to his receivers, helping the Nittany Lions to a pair of early sacks to pin the offense deep in their own territory. Maryland worked to get Taulia easier looks midway through the first quarter, but the Nittany Lions’ coverage in the flats limited the big play potential.

Maryland would begin to find its footing midway through the second quarter, eventually driving into Penn State territory before failing to pick up the needed nine yards on 4th down. The drive helped Maryland amass positive yards of offense for the first time on the day, but the Terps would go into the locker room with just 27 total yards of offense with Taulia just 5-of-12 and the rushing attack averaging 0.5 yards per carry.

Maryland showed promise on its second drive of the second half, driving near midfield before another failed fourth down attempt ended the drive. Maryland was able to pick up five first downs in the third quarter, one more than the first-half total, with Hemby, McDonald and Littleton able to find slightly more success on the ground. Maryland also showed its first signs of a vertical offense, but struggled to convert as Taulia would finish just 5-of-17 on throws over five yards down field.

To make matters worse, backup QB Billy Edwards Jr. checked into the game with eight minutes left but had to be helped off the field with 3:40 left following the third and final failed fourth-down attempt.

While Taulia struggled once again coming out of the bye week, the offensive line struggled just as much if not more than its starting quarterback. Maryland was expectedly without Mason Lunsford once again, prompting Coltin Deery to make his third career start but he struggled in his second road game again. Along with a handful of high snaps, the Nittany Lions took advantage of the freshman center to load up pressure in blitz packages to help successfully rattle quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa. That was evident as Maryland finished just 4-of-15 on third downs, including 1-of-7 in the first half, and managed to trim the average yards to-go from 13 to 9.6 in the loss. The only problem? Maryland failed to convert all eleven third-down attempts with more than four yards to go.

Still, Maryland’s offensive line allowed seven sacks, including five in the first half, along with nine tackles for loss and a pair of forced fumbles. Offensive tackle Jaelyn Duncan struggled mightily in pass protection in a concerning offensive effort from all ends. Maryland’s rushing attack entered the locker room averaging just half a yard per carry but were able to find more success late and finished with 60 yards on 37 attempts.

Penn State Runs All Over Maryland

After allowing over 200 yards on the ground in each of the last two games, Penn State would find success with their rushing attack thanks to a monster performance from freshman Nick Singleton. He led the way with 122 yards and a pair of touchdowns, averaging a whopping 11.1 yards per carry, despite having an offensive line that was without both its left tackle and guard.

Penn State was able to capitalize on the field position battle early thanks to their two sacks, giving the offense a short field, but the run defense struggled wrapping up early as RB Nick Singleton took full advantage to jumpstart the Nittany Lion offense. After holding Penn State to a 4th-and-1 in the closing minutes of the first quarter, Maryland’s inability to set the edge loomed large as Singleton broke into a clear lane for a 45-yard touchdown to push the lead to 14-0.

It didn’t help that Maryland struggled to wrap up against the Nittany Lions, frankly regardless of who the ball carrier was. That held true when Maryland blitzed QB Sean Clifford all night as the outside blitzers like CB Tarheeb Still were able to get their hands on Clifford, but were unable to bring him down to give the Nittany Lions a chance to tack on additional positive plays.

Clifford wasn’t asked to do much after finishing 12-of-23 for 139 yards and a touchdown, but the Nittany Lions saw the ball spread around with 12 different receivers catching at least one pass. In the end, the Nittany Lions rode the 105 rushing yards picked up in the first quarter and finished with 249 yards and two touchdowns.

Numbers to Know:

74: the total number of passing yards that Maryland finished with. Taulia Tagovailoa finished 11-of-22 for 74 yards, while Edwards finished 0-for-1 in a brief appearance to close the game.

70: the number of penalty yards by Maryland thanks to seven penalties. Maryland was called for a roughing the kicker and defensive pass interference, but the offense was responsible for the five remaining penalties including a trio of holding calls.

56: the number of yards accumulated by Penn State’s defense on the nine tackles for loss.

10.3: the average yards per completions by Penn State’s quarterbacks. Sean Clifford played into the third quarter before freshman Drew Allar made his first appearance, finishing 3-of-6, only for Christian Veilleux to close out the game. Maryland, meanwhile, averaged 6.7 yards per completion in the loss.