By: Eric Myers
Maryland will host Temple in its first true home game of the 2018 season after a 2-0 start. Saturday marks the first time that Maryland’s players will step onto Capital One Field in game action since the death of Jordan McNair and beginning of the subsequent, yet largely still pending, fallout.
McNair’s number, 79, is displayed prominently behind the west end zone, close to the student section. His number is also on both sidelines at the 21-yard line, 79 yards away from the endzone.
Between those sidelines, the Terrapins will look to finish their non-conference slate with a 3-0 record before beginning Big Ten Conference play against Minnesota. Despite the Owls’ 0-2 start to the season, interim head coach Matt Canada and his teams’ focus remains on Temple.
“It’s a very good opponent, a team that’s won 10 games two of the last three years [and] won seven last year,” Canada said. “They know how to win. [It’s] a very good program, very good players, they’ve recruited very well.”
Both of Temple’s early season losses have come in close games, as the Owls fell 19-17 against Villanova and 36-29 against Buffalo. Gaining a lead has been difficult for head coach Geoff Collins and his team as they have led just 17 minutes and 40 seconds through two games.
Villanova and Buffalo both enjoyed success in the rushing game against the Owl defense, which has allowed 151.5 yards per game on the ground, and that fact bodes well for a Maryland offense who accumulated 444 rushing yards against Bowling Green.
In the passing attack for Maryland, Kasim Hill returns to the same field where he tore his ACL just shy of a year ago against UCF. The redshirt freshman quarterback is prepared, mentally and physically, to get back on the home turf and continue to prove that the injury is behind him.
“I’ve worked to get back here. So just having trust in myself, trust in the process that took me back here, so just going out there and playing again is a blessing,” Hill said.
Maryland’s vastly improved defense will take on a Temple offense that has leaned heavily on the passing game given their deficits in games. Led by quarterback Frank Nutile, the Owls offense averaged 222.5 passing yards per game in their unsuccessful comeback attempts.
The Terrapins defensive unit’s success can be credited to more attention to detail this year. Players are committing to watching film and understanding their assignments instead of a more read and react concept that was in place a season ago.
Maryland has come away victorious in each of their past 12 home openers and the team is eager to play in front of the faithful Maryland fans.
“Just the atmosphere of being on a college campus and playing in front of your classmates and all your fans is just a great feeling,” senior safety Darnell Savage said. “I can speak for more than myself when I say we’re all excited.”