COLLEGE PARK -- Maryland senior Caleb Rowe was handed the keys to the offense this week in advance of Saturday’s game against South Florida.
The first half brought some mixed results for the quarterback, but it was clear there was an offensive improvement. We break it down here.
1) Turnover bug bites early
Caleb Rowe threw two interceptions in three pass attempts against Bowling Green. The first drive against South Florida didn’t start much better. On 3rd-and-8, Rowe overthrew Levern Jacobs and the pass was intercepted.
It was brought back inside the Maryland 10-yard line, putting the defense in a difficult spot. USF scored shortly after.
He made one other poor decision in the second quarter, lofting a ball up under pressure on a third down that was intercepted.
2) Shades of Kirk Cousins
Let me explain. When Kirk Cousins took over the reins of the Redskins offense, there was a marked difference, compared to the offense with Robert Griffin III at the helm.
There was movement and progress and flow. But interceptions were a concern.
It was the same with Rowe on Saturday in the first half. His first drive under center ended with an interception, but it was clear by the second that the offense had more flow to it than nearly any drive Hills could get going against Bowling Green.
3) Hitting his stride
Maryland’s second drive ended with a short touchdown pass to Kenny Goins from Rowe. The fourth appeared it would stall, before a 70-yard catch and run from Rowe to Taivon Jacobs gave Maryland its first lead of the game.
That is the vertical passing threat that Maryland lacked through two games. Teams did not fear passes like that before Rowe took over as the starter.
4) Masterful final drive
A South Florida field goal late in the second quarter cut the Maryland lead to just four points, 14-10 and the Terrapins had just 0:52 to try to get points before the half from their own 32-yard line.
A Brandon Ross run, a 10-yard pass to Levern Jacobs, and a 49-yard pass to Levern Jacobs set Maryland up inside the USF five-yard line. An option pitch to Ross put Maryland up, 21-10.
The key to that? Maryland is set to receive the ball out of the half.
Final first-half stats for Rowe: 12-of-20, 225 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions.