Three up, three down: Maryland vs. Indiana

On Saturday, the Maryland Terrapins thumped the Indiana Hoosiers 44-17 in what was there most complete effort of the season. This brings the Terrapins to 5-0 for the first time since 2001 and 2-0 in the Big Ten for the first time ever. However, still no ranking as Maryland unofficially places 26th in Sunday’s AP Poll. With a huge coming up this week let’s take a look at 3 up and 3 down in Maryland’s 7th consecutive victory.

Three Up

QB Taulia Tagovailoa

For the third consecutive week, quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa finds himself on the positive side of the postgame analysis after a stellar performance. Tagovailoa arguably had his best game in a Terrapins uniform as he finished 24-of-34 passing for 352 yards and five touchdowns, also adding a 19-yard touchdown run. Again, it was confidence that was the key for Tagovailoa and it was evident from the start.

On the first play from scrimmage, he found Jeshaun Jones for 62-yards. From then on, he was surgical. The offensive line also held up, so he had time to read the Hoosiers’ defense and had minimal problems picking them apart. With this time in the pocket, Tagovailoa is as good as any quarterback in the Big Ten. Even with some slight pressure, Tagovailoa stepped up in the pocket and made big throws. He also utilized RPO’s very well and even found Tai Felton for a score on his second touchdown pass. His best throw of the day was his 5th touchdown throw to Kaden Prather. Tagovailoa pleaded with head coach Mike Locksley to stay on the field on 4th down, and responded with a beautiful ball on a deep drag route from Prather. If Tagovailoa plays with this confidence up against the big boys of the conference, we could have something special on our hands.

WR Tai Felton 

Entering Saturday’s contest, receiver Tai Felton had never caught a touchdown pass. He made up for that on his mom’s birthday, scoring three times in the first half and added 134 yards on seven catches. Felton is often the forgotten receiver in a deep position group. He reminded the fan base of his talent today. On his first touchdown grab he made multiple Hoosiers whiff on the way to a 13-yard score. His second touchdown grab was a clean seam route and his third was hard ran slant route in tight coverage. Felton added a beautiful 46-yard grab in the second half where he high pointed the ball and “mossed” the defender to get the Terrapins inside the five-yard line. A very impressive day from Felton; if he can add this production to the receiver room then it may be deeper than we thought. Quite possibly, Felton’s performance is the latest in a string of strong showings from the receiver room, flashing just how dynamic Maryland’s passing attack can be.

LB Ruben Hyppolite

Linebacker Ruben Hyppolite has been a mainstay on the Terrapins defense for the past few seasons. After playing through growing pains as he transitioned into a Big Ten linebacker as a freshman, Hyppolite has proven he’s a “safe” player along the now-lethal Terps’ front seven. With the absence of star linebacker, Jaishawn Barham, Hyppolite had to step up to keep the Terrapins defense in check. Hyppolite did just that by finishing with seven total tackles. Hyppolite was constantly around the ball and helped fill up holes in the run game, while helping contain the Indiana quarterbacks on the edge which allowed his teammates to pick up the scraps. I found myself watching #11 in red making repeated impactful plays on the defense. If Hyppolite can keep up solid inside linebacking play, it is going to make this Terrapins defense all the more better.

HM: DE Quashon Fuller 

A quick honorable mention to edge rusher, Quashon Fuller. Fuller had a sack on the day but was also getting consistent pressure on the quarterback, a sore spot for the Terps in recent years. There were numerous occasions were Fuller got by the offensive tackle and into the backfield. However, he often over ran his assignment as the quarterback would easily just move up in the pocket. If he works on this, he can find himself creating more of an impact in pass-rush situations, but a good game nonetheless.

Three Down

K Jack Howes

Jack Howes finds himself on “three down” again. Howes went 1-for-2 on his field goal attempts and missed an extra point in Saturday’s win. A missed extra point should never happen. It should be a guaranteed point as it a 19-yard kick. Even after drilling a 44-yard attempt, a blocked field goal on his second 44-yard attempt did not help Howes on the day. Fortunately for Maryland, the kicks did not cost them this time but points left on the board may be come back to bite them later this season.

RB Roman Hemby

Roman Hemby also finds himself on “thre down” for the second consecutive week. I could include the entire run game, but Antwain Littleton found some success in his limited carries as he averaged 10.4 yards a carry, giving the run game ammo in the second half. Hemby finished with 54 yards on 14 carries good for a 3.9 average. Hemby broke out a 22-yard run in garbage time to help his average, but he really could not find his groove all day. The run game has been a struggle for the Maryland offense so far in conference play. With such high expectations on Hemby, he has not lived up to them in the past few games, struggling to break through initial contact and hit the hole with speed. The offensive line is not doing him any favors in run blocking, but you would still like Hemby to break longer runs more consistently. Hemby has hit a cool period but there is still a lot of football left for him to hit his groove. Maryland is going to need it as the schedule ramps up.

OL Run Blocking

The offensive line has started to become more consistent in terms of the names you are seeing on a week-to-week basis. The unit was a giant question mark heading into the season; however, they have exceeded expectations up to this point in some ways. The pass protection has been elite as the Terrapins did not allow a sack on Saturday and only three all season. The run blocking has still been an issue over the past two games. Only one starter (C Mike Purcell) earned run blocking grade above 60, per PFF. This means LT DJ Glaze, LG Kyle Long, RG Corey Bullock, and RT Gottlieb Ayedze had subpar grades in run blocking. Even Mike Purcell finished with a measly 62.7. The offensive line is not generating enough push off the line and is not creating holes for the Maryland backs. This has to be better if Maryland is going to have a chance against “the big three” of the conference or even when they travel on the road to play some tough Big Ten West teams in Northwestern and Nebraska. The trenches have to work in unison with the running backs to get the ground game back on the right track.

Overall, Maryland had their most complete effort in Saturday’s win over Indiana. There was a lot to highlight such as strong quarterback and receiver play but there were some of the same issues such as the kicking and run game. Maryland will look to fix those issues and build off their momentum as the travel to Columbus to take on fourth-ranked Ohio St on Saturday.

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