Maryland vs. Wisconsin: Five Things to Watch

Maryland (6-2, 3-2 B1G) at Wisconsin (4-4, 2-3 B1G)

When: Sat., Nov. 5 | 12:01 p.m. EST
Where: Camp Randall Stadium
Watch: Big Ten Network –  Jeff Levering, Anthony Herron, Meghan McKeown
Listen: 105.7 FM (Balt) / 980 AM (DC) – Johnny Holliday, Steve Suter
Maryland returns to action on Saturday as they travel to Wisconsin. With the Terps searching for their seventh win of the season and first against the Badgers, Maryland will do so with quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa under center. With that, we break down five things to watch.
  • Stop the Run: Without Jaishawn Barham and Ruben Hyppolite against Northwestern, the Terps’ defense had trouble stopping Evan Hull two weeks ago. Hull rushed for 119 yards with a six-yards-per-carry average while adding 31 yards on four catches and a touchdown. Coach Mike Locksley noted in his Thursday press conference that Barham and Hyppolite “are both back and practicing and will be able to play this week,”. The Terps defense gains a significant boost in returning it’s arguably two best linebackers who are expected be a big help in slowing down Braelon Allen. Allen is fourth in the Big Ten in rushing yards and touchdowns. He’s also averaging almost six yards-per-carry. Similar to many previous Wiconson offenses’, slowing down Allen is the key to bogging down and getting Wisconsin’s offense off schedule. This game also provides a litmus test for the Terps’ veteran defensive linemen in Mosiah Nasili-Kite, Ami Finau, and Greg China-Rose with the opportunity for them to show their talent and tenacity in developing Maryland into a much improved run stopping team through their careers as Terps. Another player to note in slowing down the Wisconsin running attack is Beau Brade, having Brade play in the box as a pseudo fourth linebacker and trusting Dante Trader on the back end in single high coverage could force Wisconsin to reconsider their offensive attack.
  • Lower the Pressure on Lia: Quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa will be back after missing the Northwestern game with a knee injury. “He’s playing Saturday,” said Locksley on Tuesday. Taulia might be back after only missing one game, but the Terps should be careful not to push him too hard. Look for short passes and easy completions to try and get Lia into a rhythm early and not to hold the ball for too long. This could also be a game where the Terps look to go to the ground game to play clock control if it’s successful. Lia being back was the biggest news coming out of the bye, and now it’s up to Maryland to make sure he stays on the field. “ I feel good. You Know I’m ready. I had a good time recovering, rehab stuff like that. I’m just ready to get back on the field with brothers,” said Taulia Tuesday.
  • Limiting Nick Herbig’s Efficiency: Herbig leads the Big Ten in both sacks and tackles for loss. Making sure he stays away from Taulia is priority number one for Maryland’s offensive line. This week is left tackle Jaelyn Duncan’s biggest test so far this year. Duncan has been talked about as a first-round pick in the 2023 NFL draft multiple times this season. While it’s not a guarantee he goes that high, a great performance against Herbig could solidify his status as one of the top tackles in the draft. Maryland might also have some quick passes in place to get the ball out of Lia’s hands as fast as possible. The team needs to be aware of where Herbig is on the field all game.
  • Winning the Turnover Battle: In this November battle of two teams that can take control of a game with the run, turnovers could be the difference in the game. On offense, ball security has to be on everyone’s mind and they can’t be careless with it, especially with a Jim Leonhard coached defense who thrives on turnovers. On defense, Maryland has to take advantage when an opportunity comes up. Wisconsin quarterback Graham Mertz has thrown six interceptions on the season, and has had problems with them in the past. If Maryland can force him into bad throws, it could bode well for the Terps.
  • Make Wisconsin’s Defense Respect the Vertical Pass: Despite the desire to get the ball out of Lia’s hands early to get him back in rhythm coming off of his knee injury, the Terps will need to draw respect from the Wisconsin defense. Wisconsin is a classic Big Ten team in the eyes of many with their defensive efficiency, especially in defending the run. A key to Maryland’s Offense not facing an eight man box and press man coverage on the outside through the entirety of the game is to stretch the Wisconsin secondary and make them respect the downfield passing attack. This requires Maryland to take advantage of one-on-one outside matchups early and often and for Taulia to be accurate and effective in his reads. If the Terps offense can do this, the likelihood that the running game and short passing game, which is the “bread and butter” of Maryland’s offense finding success will be significantly improved.

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