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Maryland-USF Preview: 5 things you need to know

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Maryland-USF Preview: 5 things you need to know

Maryland faces South Florida on Saturday at noon in College Park. Here are 5 things you need to know as you prepare.

1) What Caleb Rowe is expected to change

Maryland found out in its first two games that Perry Hills is not a deep ball quarterback. As a result, defenses cheated up and starting stacking the box, making it more difficult to get the running game going.

The staff put senior Caleb Rowe in as the starter at quarterback to change that.

Maryland has playmakers at the skill positions. It was the inability to get the ball in their hands that caused issues. The hope is that Rowe can find Levern Jacobs, Taivon Jacobs, and D.J. Moore in the passing game, which should stretch the field vertically and open up the running game.

2) Shuffling WRs = solving offensive woes?

It hasn’t been completely Perry Hills’ fault that the offense has stagnated. There were at least five drops by Maryland pass-catchers in Saturday’s loss, with a number of those coming in situations that could have resulted in a first down.

In response, Taivon Jacobs and D.J. Moore have been elevated to starters. For that reason, there will be no shortage of weapons for Rowe to take advantage of offensively.

If Rowe can get the ball in their hands, along with Levern Jacobs, Maryland hopes good things will happen.

MORE TERPS: 'STEF-LIKE' CATCH PROPELS FRESHMAN INTO STARTING JOB

3) Spread, we meet again

South Florida’s spread offense won’t be as fast as the Bowling Green scheme Maryland saw last week, but it is a spread nonetheless.

Expect more in the running game, with the Bulls utilizing all-conference caliber RB Marlon Mack. Quarterback Quinton Flowers is a dual-threat in both the running game and passing game. That is a first for Maryland in an opposition this season.

The key for Maryland will be stopping the snowball. The spread is effective because it finds flaws, exploits them, then works at a pace that keeps you from addressing those flaws. Maryland fell victim to that against Bowling Green, which resulting in back-to-back back-breaking 99-yard and 73-yard touchdown drives.

4) Secondary needs to bounce back

On paper, Maryland’s secondary is its most talented and most experienced group. But it got picked apart against Bowling Green. Sean Davis was specifically targeted, but there were communication issues over the top, which led to some Falcon deep balls.

The secondary will set the tone for the rest of the defense. If they cover, that gives the front seven a chance to get to the quarterback.

5) Still no sacks allowed

If there has been a bright spot on Maryland’s offense, it has been the offensive line. Hills was not sacked in his two starts. More protection like that for Rowe would make his job easier in his first start of the season.

Protection allows guys to get open. Rowe has the arm strength to find open guys.

But the counterpoint is this -- the athletes on defense for South Florida are the best the line has faced this season. We’ll see what Maryland’s response is.

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Not the homecoming former Terp D.J. Moore was hoping for against the Redskins

Not the homecoming former Terp D.J. Moore was hoping for against the Redskins

Former Maryland Terrapin D.J. Moore made his first trip to FedEx field as an NFL star. His Carolina Panthers traveled up to Landover, Md. for a Week 6 matchup with the Washington Redskins.

However, it was not the homecoming he and the Panthers were hoping for. 

The first-round draft pick had two fumbles in the first half against the Redskins. Both were punch-outs due to Moore not holding the ball tight enough.

The wide receiver's first came as he fielded the Redskins' first punt of the afternoon.

The second being a fumble coming off of his first reception, punched out by Josh Norman, who had his best game as a Redskin.

Both plays had enough effort, probably too much. Moore was clearly trying to make something out of nothing and both times it cost him and the Panthers two key possessions on the road. 

First two touches, two fumbles. Not a good look. 

But in other Maryland Terps news, Vernon Davis did haul down the first touchdown of the game and Torrey Smith scored a late touchdown and converted the two-point conversion. 

MORE NFL TERPS NEWS: 

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As one of the most penalized teams in college football, Maryland's penalty woes showed vs. Michigan

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As one of the most penalized teams in college football, Maryland's penalty woes showed vs. Michigan

On the field, it has been a season of ups and downs for the Maryland Terrapins. On Saturday, it became evident that the team's penalty issues are at epic proportions based on their loss to Michigan.

This season, Maryland is one of the most penalized teams in all of Division I football. 

No matter if the penalties are coming in wins or in losses, yellow flags have forced Maryland to dig themselves out of holes this season. Quickly these holes become insurmountable with the inconsistent offense the Terps have this season. 

Below is where they stand on the NCAA FBS Division I leaderboard:

  • Penalties per game (4th worst) - 9.8 penalties
  • Penalty yards per game (3rd worst) - 93.8 yards
  • 7 penalties per 100 plays (t-worst) 


This past Saturday against Michigan, their penalties were a significant factor in a loss for the first time this season. Twelve times the Terps were flagged, costing them 107 yards. 

The first major penalty was just after the Terps got a big kickoff return for a touchdown by Ty Johnson to give them an early 7-3 lead. Two scrimmage plays later, Darnell Savage got his second interception of the season on Michigan's side of the field with the upset in full swing. A holding penalty on the return pushed the Terps back to midfield where they would go three-and-out. 

That mistake, although minuscule at the time, cannot happen on the road against a top-25 opponent. A momentum-swinging play was diminished by the penalty and kept them from adding to their lead.  

The offense though was responsible for most of the dirty laundry on the field. Of their 12 penalties, half of them were on the offense. Five of those six were detrimental to their success. 

A holding penalty in the second quarter prevented the Terps from having the chance to answer Michigan's first touchdown of the game.

On the first drive of the second half for the Terps, three penalties in the first four plays pushed them back to a 4th-and-36. 

Although they converted a fourth-and-6 in the red zone, they got pushed back to that mark because of a false start the play prior. This was their first drive of the fourth where they were behind by three scores and desperately trying to come back.

In their Week 1 shocking upset over the ranked Texas Longhorns the team had eight penalties for 70 yards. This was the only game that their opponent committed more penalties.

The next week at Bowling Green (14 for 139 yards) was worse, at home vs. Temple (five penalties, 35 yards) and at Minnesota (10 penalties, 118 yards).

Currently, the team is sitting at 3-2 with a win over the No. 9 team in the country, Texas. Considering everything that has happened, and they are under interim head coach Matt Canada, they are rising above expectations. 

But by no means are there many confident in how the Terps have played this season. Mostly that is due to these penalties. 

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