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.
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.