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Maryland strives to improve Big Ten's worst defense

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Maryland strives to improve Big Ten's worst defense

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Maryland's season is spinning out of control, and the Terrapins find themselves defenseless in their bid to stop it.

Although much of the attention at Maryland this season has focused on the quarterback position, the team's most obvious flaw is its porous defense.

The Terrapins have yielded an average of 36.5 points per game, which ranks last in the Big Ten and 115th of 129 teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision. They are permitting 439 yards per game -- last in the Big Ten and 104th in the FBS.

Over the past two games, Maryland (3-3, 1-2) has given up 99 points and 1,115 yards. One big reason is that the Terrapins have one sack in their last three games.

"We definitely need more pressure on the quarterback," coach DJ Durkin said Tuesday. "That's pretty much a staple of football. If you allow a quarterback to be patient and calm in the pocket, they usually find a guy open."

That's happened more times this season than Durkin would care to remember, and goes a long way toward explaining why Maryland's pass defense is 107th in the FBS.

Even though injuries have cost the Terrapins their top two quarterbacks , perhaps the most notable injury is the broken ankle sustained by defensive end Jesse Aniebonam in the season opener. Aniebonam had nine sacks, 14 tackles for a loss and 30 quarterback hurries in 2016.

"It's been a little shaky getting through it," defensive back Antoine Brooks Jr. said.

"When you lose Jesse off the bat like that, he's your main pass rusher," end Brett Kulka said. "So it's going to be an issue to work through."

Durkin got the job at Maryland after a successful runs as a defensive coordinator at Florida and Michigan. In his second season at Maryland, he's tried just about everything to turn things around with this unit.

In the end, though, it comes down to individual effort.

"I'm sure there's always times when you can have a better call in certain situations, but guys have to win 1-on-1s," Durkin said. "If they keep enough guys in the block, someone's got to win a 1-on-1. It's really an attitude and a demeanor. It's about having the right attitude of, `I'm going to go win. I'm going to beat a block.'"

That didn't happen often last weekend in a 37-21 loss to Northwestern. Not only did the Wildcats pass for 293 yards, but tailback Justin Jackson rambled for 171 yards.

It was the third defeat in four games for the Terps. Things don't get any easier Saturday against No. 5 Wisconsin and Big Ten rushing leader Jonathan Taylor, who amassed 219 yards on the ground last week in a win over Purdue .

"He's hard to tackle," Durkin said. "He's got good speed, good vision. He understands what they do. Where to hit the hole, when to be patient how the blocks are going to unfold."

It's going to take a huge effort from the Maryland defense to pull off an upset.

"We need to go back to the basics," Brooks said. "We need to run to the ball more, make more tackles, cause more turnovers."

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Maryland rolls to 96-43 victory over Maryland-Eastern Shore

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Maryland rolls to 96-43 victory over Maryland-Eastern Shore

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Anthony Cowan had 16 points and nine rebounds, Jared Nickens scored 15 and Maryland opened its home schedule with a 96-43 rout of Maryland-Eastern Shore on Sunday night.

Cowan scored eight points in a 17-0 run that gave the Terrapins (2-0) a 43-15 lead late in the first half. The 6-foot sophomore had 12 points, eight rebounds, two steals and a block before halftime.

Nickens made all five of his shots, including four from beyond the arc. Dion Wiley finished with 14 points and freshman Darryl Morsell added 12.

Coming off a comfortable win over Stony Brook on Friday, Maryland yielded the game's first basket before Wiley drilled successive 3-pointers to spark a 12-0 run.

Maryland shot 70 percent (14 for 20) from the floor in the first half and forced nine turnovers, including four by freshman Cameron Bacote.

Bacote led UMES (1-1) with 18 points. He had 28 points and 11 rebounds in the Hawks' opener against Valley Forge.

BIG PICTURE

UMES: Games like this make money for the program and help the Hawks get ready for the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference slate. The UMES schedule includes road games against Georgetown, Virginia Tech, Iowa State and Creighton before league play begins in 2018.

Maryland: The Terrapins put five players in double figures for the second game in a row. Justin Jackson and Kevin Huerter are expected to be the go-to scorers this season, but they've not been needed thus far. Maryland will need that kind of balance when the competition gets tougher.

NOT A RIVALRY

The Terrapins are 18-0 against UMES in a series that began in 1979. This was the first game between the teams since 2015.

UP NEXT

UMES: Travels to St. Bonaventure on Wednesday night.

Maryland: Hosts Butler on Wednesday night in the second of four straight home games.

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No. 21 Michigan dominates Maryland in 1st half in 35-10 win

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No. 21 Michigan dominates Maryland in 1st half in 35-10 win

COLLEGE PARK, Md.  -- Brandon Peters threw two touchdown passes, Chris Evans ran for two scores and No. 21 Michigan dominated Maryland in the first half in a 35-10 victory Saturday.

The Wolverines (8-2, 5-2 Big Ten) have won three straight. The Terrapins (4-6, 2-5) have lost five of six.

Before the second quarter was halfway over, Michigan had a 28-0 lead thanks to Peters' passing and some madcap miscues by Maryland.

Peters threw touchdown passes of 33 yards to Zach Gentry and 3 yards to Sean McKeon. Henry Poggi and Evans ran for scores. Evans, who scored from a yard out in the second quarter, added a 17-yard run late in the fourth quarter.

The Terrapins started their fourth quarterback of the season, Myles Brand, but unlike the previous three, couldn't come close to engineering a win. Brand was 16 for 35 for 136 yards.

In one particularly embarrassing sequence, Lorenzo Harrison badly overthrew Brand with lots of running room ahead of the quarterback, and three plays later, caught a pass from Brand and managed to lose 14 yards.

Trailing 14-0, Maryland tried a fake punt from its own 30. After Jaquille Veii gained just 3 yards and turned the ball over to Michigan, the Wolverines immediately scored on the 33-yard pass from Peters to Gentry.

After a 29-yard pass to Taivon Jacobs was overturned by replay, Michigan blocked Wade Lees' punt. Two plays later, Peters hit McKeon for a 3-yard pass, and the Wolverines' lead was 28-0 with 8:21 to play in the first half.

In the second half, Maryland scored on a 20-yard field goal by Henry Darmstadter and a 10-yard pass from Brand to Jacobs.