In a rivalry game on the cusp of Big Ten play, Maryland struggled to get much of anything going. Saturday’s game against West Virginia was at no point truly competitive, amounting to a 45-6 Maryland loss in Morgantown.
Here are five things you need to know.
1) Quarterback struggles means offensive stagnation -- and a change
Caleb Rowe was intercepted four times and there was a visible frustration at times as he was continually unable to find his receivers even when they were open.
On two different occasions, the defense or special teams unit forced a West Virginia turnover and it was given back to the Mountaineers by an interception on the next drive.
He was replaced late in the third quarter by Oklahoma State transfer Daxx Garman after his fourth interception of the day, which was picked off in the end zone.
2) The spread snowball returns
This was the issue for Maryland against Bowling Green. The offense was unable to sustain drives, which taxes the defense and keeps them on the field against a team that runs an up-tempo spread offense and can pound the ball on the ground.
Defense gets tired, gives up points, then is put back on the field after the offense gives the ball up. Rowe’s four interceptions also backed the defense into a corner.
That’s a recipe for West Virginia running back Wendell Smallwood to carry the ball 22 times for 147 yards and a touchdown.
The quarterback, Skyler Howard, was removed from the game in the fourth quarter with the contest all but decided. He finished 21-of-33 for 294 yards, four touchdowns, and one interceptions.
3) Frustration boils over
Safety A.J. Hendy was nearly ejected for targeting after hitting the quarterback, Howard, while he was out bounds. The 15-yard personal foul penalty stuck. Cornerback Sean Davis was called for a personal foul penalty for hitting another player out of bounds later in the game.
There were hands throw in the air, chatter, and chirping on plays, too, as Maryland continued to struggled offensively to get anything going.
4) A different feel to this loss
Maryland has lost games, but this defeat at the hands of West Virginia had the feel of its blowout loss to Wisconsin last season and to Florida State the year before that. There was really no point at which this game was competitive.
In a rivalry game that held importance before the start of the Big Ten schedule, it would have been asking a lot for this team to go into Morgantown and get a win. But for the Terrapins never to be able to get something going offensively and to turn the ball over four times is the type of loss that hurts more.
The question now is if Garman remains the starter facing West Virginia’s defense in the second half, though keep in mind that the Mountaineers had all but called off the dogs.
5) Brandon Ross the lone bright spot
Maryland running back Brandon Ross was the lone bright spot against West Virginia, but he also made the play that was most emblematic of the day as a whole.
He finished with 130 yards on 15 carries and in the second quarter he ripped off a 55-yard catch and run from quarterback Caleb Rowe. But as he approached the goal line, he fumbled the ball and it rolled through the back of the end zone. That triggered a touchback, which gave the ball to West Virginia and Maryland had nothing to show for it.