All season, Maryland Football head coach Mike Locksley has preached a Maryland-first mindset.
“It’s always about us, never them.” Coach Mike Locksley constantly says about his Maryland team.
The Terps faced a reality check after they suffered their first loss of the season to Temple. The defense was not as aggressive as advertised. Meanwhile, the offense was the complete opposite of the high-powered unit of the first two games. The Terps were held to just 17 points after blowouts against Howard and Syracuse.
“Some fundamental things we just have to get cleaned up, so there’s a big emphasis on the fundamentals.” Locksley continued.
This Friday night, the Terrapins have a chance to redeem themselves as they host No. 12 Penn State in a highly anticipated sell out.
Maryland last beat Penn State in 2014, when the Terps pulled off a one-point victory. The two more recent seasons have been less encouraging, with Maryland collectively tallying 6 points in comparison to Penn State’s 104. But, ahead of Friday’s “black out,” the buzz around campus is tangible.
The Nittany Lions are currently undefeated (3-0) with wins over Idaho, Buffalo and most recently, Pittsburgh. Penn State’s margins this season have been identical to Maryland’s. It, too, ran up the score to 79 against Idaho — and pulled out a 30-point win against Buffalo. But the Nittany Lions found success in week three, skidding past Pittsburgh with a final score of 17-10. That said, both teams have something to prove coming into Friday’s game.
Penn State lost their dominant quarterback Trace McSorley to the Baltimore Ravens via the NFL Draft. The next option on the depth chart, Tommy Stevens, transferred to Mississippi State, leaving Sean Clifford to take the reins. Clifford only started three times last season, but has looked comfortable. So far this season, the junior has thrown for 976 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions.
“He [Clifford] has the ability to pull the ball down and run,” Locksley said. “And has the athleticism to do some of the things they’ve done on offense when they had Trace McSorley.”
Clifford is helped by redshirt sophomore wide receiver K.J. Hamler, who has caught 10 passes for over 200 yards, along with two touchdowns so far.
Despite the numerous offensive weapons at Penn State’s disposal, Locksley remains steadfast to his Maryland-first mindset. The Terps enter the game ranked sixth in FBS in sacks (4.33 per game.) Linebacker Keandre Jones leads the way, with 3.5 sacks this season.
Maryland also has two interceptions and six forced fumbles, four of which were recovered. The Terps have forced a turnover for 15 consecutive games, ranking fourth in FBS. The streak continued in an otherwise disappointing performance at Temple, as the Terps forced three turnovers.
On the offensive end, Maryland remains a threat. They enter Friday ranking fourth nationally for scoring offense, trailing only LSU, Oklahoma and Ohio State. Maryland also leads the Big Ten in rushing yards.
The Big Ten opening matchup is scheduled to kick off at 8:00pm as the Terps look to keep their winning record and dispatch a massive rival in the process.