Maryland’s cruise through a two-game homestand hit some choppy waters last Saturday against Purdue. But the Terrapins still have the wind at their backs as they visit Indiana this weekend.
The defense gave a Herculean performance — highlighted by three-straight third quarter Boilermaker turnovers — but Maryland’s offense struggled outside of the final five minutes of a 31-29 loss.
“There were some things within that game that we had control of as a program and as a football team that we didn’t take care of,” Maryland coach Mike Locksley told reporters Tuesday. “And that comes down to execution.”
It could have tempered this season’s expectations slightly. But to a man, the Terrapins (4-2, 1-2 Big Ten) acknowledged the game was one they let slip away. And it was the demeanors of players postgame that signaled this wasn’t going to be a loss that would knock Maryland into a spiral as in previous seasons.
“The good thing is nobody in the locker room had their heads down,” Locksley said. “Obviously, they’re disappointed, but there was no fingerpointing. We all know there’s a lot of football left to be played.”
Exactly half of the season, to be precise. And the Terrapins kick off on the second half with a visit to the Hoosier State’s other Big Ten school and an Indiana team that’s reeling.
The Hoosiers (3-3, 1-2) are battling injuries to five key players as well as staff upheaval. Coach Tom Allen fired offensive line coach and run-game coordinator Darren Hiller Sunday after IU’s 31-10 loss against Michigan. He’s been replaced by fellow assistant Rod Carey, himself a former Indiana lineman.
Indiana only managed 19 yards rushing and allowed seven sacks against the Wolverines, adding to their conference-worst total of 19. Maryland enters off of a five-sack performance against the Boilermakers, and is third-best in the Big Ten with 15.
“It’s tough to have that type of impact in this short period of time in terms of what’s able to change,” Locksley said of Carey’s promotion. “I’m sure he’ll have some suggestions, but what they do on offense is kind of what they do.”
Former Maryland offensive coordinator Walt Bell directs Indiana’s offense, which is led by Missouri transfer quarterback Connor Bazelak. He’s steadied the position for the Hoosiers, tallying 1,597 yards, nine touchdowns and six interceptions, putting him on pace for a third-straight season of at least 2,300 yards passing.
He replaces talented dual-threat quarterback Michael Penix Jr., who played parts of four seasons at IU, but was injured in each of them (including an ACL tear against Maryland in 2020) and transferred to Washington late last year.
Regardless of who’s quarterbacking, expect Jaishawn Barham to disrupt what they do. The Big Ten co-freshman of the week had his best performance as a Terrapin last week, one that bears repeating: Five total tackles (four solo), two sacks, two tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
For all of the plaudits coming the District Heights, Maryland, native’s way, he conducts his business in the most unassuming of ways.
“He’s quiet, but you know he’s going to go out there and give it all he’s got,” said cornerback Jakorian Bennett. “He just plays fast, physical. He’s smart. And he’s just a playmaker.”
“You can’t really coach a football player like that. Seems like what he was born to do is play football.”
Though Maryland enters anywhere from a 10-to-11 point favorite according to oddsmakers, recent trends indicate a tighter contest. Of the eight matchups between the two schools since the Terrapins joined the Big Ten, five of them have been one-score games.
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