Terps Present Yet Another Big Opportunity For MSU

Terps Present Yet Another Big Opportunity For MSU

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Terps Present Yet Another Big Opportunity For MSU

Michigan State travels to College Park, MD for another huge opportunity following last Saturday’s big bounce-back win over Purdue. The Terps see this game the same way the Spartans do – it’s a chance for the winner to head into the final three games with big goals in view.

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The Maryland Terrapins are flying under the radar right now and are quietly putting together one of the more impressive performances across all of college football, considering their circumstances.

The team has been without its head coach, DJ Durkin, since before the season due to the university putting Durkin on administrative leave in the wake of the tragic death of former Terp player Jordan McNair during summer workouts.

The controversy that the University of Maryland’s football players were overwhelmed by had nothing to do with anything any of them did and all they and interim head coach, Matt Canada, have done over the last few months is persevere admirably.

The Terps immediately asserted themselves on the field by beating Texas 34-29 in the season opener – the second straight year Maryland took it to the Longhorns.

Since then, Maryland has played well enough to have an identical overall and Big Ten record compared to Michigan State –  the Terps are 5-3, 3-2 and see this Saturday’s game against the Spartans in College Park as their own opportunity to take their season to another level with more big games ahead.

Maryland’s losses have come at home against Temple (35-14), at Michigan (42-21), and at Iowa (23-0).

Temple is having a nice season – the Owls sit at 5-3 right now and are 4-0 in the American Conference.

The Terps were handled by both Michigan and Iowa, having been overmatched and overwhelmed in each game.

From a statistical standpoint, Maryland shouldn’t strike fear into the Spartans – the Terps rank 11th offensively overall in the Big Ten (with Michigan State 13th in the conference.)

Maryland’s offensive strength comes with its ground attack – the Terps have averaged 246 yards per game.

Michigan State moved back into the nation’s #1 spot in rushing defense following the performance against Purdue – the Spartans now are surrendering an average of 79 yards per game on the ground.

The Terps are going to want to run the ball and Michigan State will gladly take on that challenge.

If Maryland’s offensive front can move the ball against the Spartans’ Green & White brick wall, we’ll tip our caps to the Terps.

Meanwhile, Maryland does not have an air attack that is anything comparable to Purdue or Michigan or Northwestern.

The Terps have gained an average of 131 yards per game through the air.

Maryland is led by second year freshman quarterback Kasim Hill.

Hill is 6’2″, 234 pounds and he’s 72 for 137 on the year – good for 966 yards with 9 touchdowns against 3 interceptions.

Running backs Anthony McFarland and Ty Johnson have done double-duty on the ground.

McFarland has carried the ball 67 times, gaining 497 yards with 2 touchdowns.

Johnson has 61 carries for 468 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Hill has been able to spread the ball around all season to a batch of receivers that are dependable and solid.

Taivon Jacobs is a 5’11”, 170 pound senior who has had 18 catches for 225 yards with 2 touchdowns.

Jeshaun Jones is a bit of a dual threat – he’s run for 152 yards with 2 touchdowns and caught the ball 11 times for 163 yards and 3 touchdowns.

DJ Turner is a 5’9″, 203 pound junior with 13 catches for 159 yards and 1 score.

Jahrvis Davenport is 5’9″, 190 pounds – the senior has 9 receptions for 156 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Maryland doesn’t have a Donovan Peoples-Jones or a Rondale Moore and Kasim Hill is not Shea Patterson, David Blough, or Trace McSorley.

It’s reasonable to expect that Michigan State can corral Hill and his receiving corps by combining pocket pressure with what is starting to feel like strong and steady coverage provided by a Spartan secondary that has improved over the course of the season and should have Josiah Scott back on the field for the first time all season.

Maryland has a middle-of-the-pack Big Ten defense.

The Terps are giving up 162 yards rushing per game and 258 yards through the air.

In last Saturday’s 66-13 destruction of Illinois, Maryland’s Antoine Brooks – a 5’11”, 210 pound junior defensive back – led the way for the defense with 5 solo tackles and 2 assists.

Isaish Davis is a 6’1″, 245 pound junior linebacker who had 2 solos stops and 4 assists against the Illini.

Darrell Savage has been a savage all season – he’s a 5’11”, 200 pound senior defensive back who had 3 solo stops to go with 2 assists against Illinois.

Maryland has a batch of other solid defensive contributors – but, like the offense, the Terps defense doesn’t have any true “stars.”

Before Matt Canada was thrust into the role of interim head coach after Durkin was placed on administrative leave, he had just arrived as Maryland’s offensive coordinator following high profile stints as the OC at LSU, Pitt, NC State, Wisconsin, Northern Illinois, and Indiana.

Canada is one of the more well-respected offensive minds in college football but he didn’t expect to serve as the Terps head coach, especially under these circumstances.

And Canada deserves major credit for not only keeping the train on the tracks for a team that might have folded up under unique pressure – he’s looking at a realistic shot at getting to seven wins.

This game against Michigan State is probably the most important swing game on the remainder of the schedule for Maryland with a trip to Indiana, a visit from Ohio State, and a trip to Penn State following this Saturday’s battle against the Spartans.

Each team has a lot to play for and has every reason to think that this game can be the catapult to a strong finish.

On a piece of paper, Michigan State fans should have reason to be optimistic about the Spartans’ chances of being 6-3, 4-2 by the time they get ready to return to East Lansing late on Saturday.

Bringing the focus, the intensity, the play-by-play attention to detail, and the fire that all contributed to what was a terrific win over Purdue will be needed from start to finish for Michigan State.

Michigan State’s leaders deserve a ton of credit for holding everything together following the tough loss to Michigan and making sure that the entire approach to the preparation for and execution within the Purdue game was businesslike and intense.

The leaders need to take that same approach this week – there is the potential for significant rewards for this team if the Spartans just take care of their own business.

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