By Max Marcilla
Maryland football’s struggle capitalizing on its opponents blunders was evident once again on Saturday during its 37-21 loss to the Northwestern Wildcats.
The Terps’ defense, which struggled mightily for the majority of the game, did record two crucial takeaways. Midway through the first quarter, Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson’s pass was intercepted by Darnell Savage Jr., whose nifty ball skills set the Terps up at Northwestern’s 32-yard line — the edge of field goal range.
After a three-play, negative two-yard drive, the Terps were forced to punt and unable to extend their 7-0 lead.
“To win games you’ve got to do those things,” head coach DJ Durkin said after the game. “When there’s a sudden change or a big play on special teams or a turnover, you’d like to get some momentum and keep it going, but we haven’t been able to do that.”
Later in the game, while trying to stage a comeback, Clayton was intercepted in the end zone by JC Jackson as the Wildcats were unable to increase their six-point lead.
Once again, the ensuing possession featured a quick three-and-out and negative yardage by the Maryland offense and another punt. The drive stalled any potential ‘juice’ from Jackson’s takeaway.
Both interceptions were timely for the Terps — especially Jackson’s, which came just moments after Taivon Jacobs’ 20-yard touchdown trimmed the deficit to six. Neither time, Maryland was able to build on the momentum.
Senior linebacker Jermaine Carter Jr. said that the offense’s struggles following crucial defensive plays does not impact the defense’s mindset.
“We’ve just go to focus on when we’re on the field,” Carter said. “When we’re on the field, we’re expected to make a stop. We have to go out there and no matter what the offense does, we have to go out there and get a stop.”
Getting stops also didn’t come easy for the Terps’ defense, which allowed 531 total offensive yards to the Wildcats, something it needs to drastically improve before taking on No. 7 Wisconsin. The Badgers have the best third down conversion percentage in the Big Ten and the third-best scoring offense through Saturday’s afternoon games.