Terps feeling good heading into next game against Ohio State

After morale-boosting win in Big Ten opener, Maryland sets sights on Buckeyes

September 28, 2014|By Matt Zenitz | Baltimore Sun Media Group

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — The game against Indiana on Saturday was a chance for Maryland to make a first impression, an early opportunity for the Terps to show they can be a competitive team in the Big Ten Conference.

"We showed that Maryland football is as good as anybody else," Terps inside linebacker Cole Farrand said after Maryland beat Indiana, 37-15, at Memorial Stadium.

Before the season, Big Ten writers picked the Terps to finish just fifth out of the seven teams in the conference's East Division.

But this was a good, almost dominant win over an Indiana team fresh off an upset win over No. 18 Missouri. And the Terps (4-1) appear to be coming together and playing their best football of the season as they head into a challenging second half of their schedule that includes games against Big Ten powers like Ohio State, Wisconsin and Penn State.

"We definitely came out here today and showed how good we can be against a very good Indiana team," Farrand said.

The Terps did so on both offense and defense.

On offense, Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown had likely his best game of the season before he was forced to leave with a sprained left wrist that he suffered late in the first half. Even after Brown was injured, backup Caleb Rowe stepped in and threw for 198 yards and two touchdowns without an interception despite only really throwing the ball for about a quarter and a half.

Brown and Rowe went a combined 22 of 33 for 361 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Brown also ran for a touchdown. The Terps scored on four of their first five possessions and then scored on three of their first five possessions in the second half.

Indiana, which has struggled defensively, had allowed a combined 72 points in its previous two games. But Saturday was a clear step forward for Maryland's offense, which has progressively improved during the first month of the season.

Standout wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Deon Long were heavily involved in the offense, and both made big plays while combining for 16 catches, 220 yards and a touchdown. Running back Brandon Ross had 61 yards on just six carries and turned a screen pass into a 36-yard touchdown in the third quarter.

The Terps also received contributions from players like running back Wes Brown (84 total yards), fullback Kenny Goins Jr. and freshman wide receiver Juwann Winfree, who caught a 30-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.

"To me, we can be scary good on offense once we start hitting on all cylinders," Terps coach Randy Edsall said Saturday. "I don't think we've done that. [But] I thought we got better today in that regard."

C.J. Brown may not be able to play when Maryland hosts No. 22 Ohio State on Saturday. At worst, though, the Terps have Rowe, who had the success he did against Indiana and has started for Maryland in the past.

"The level of confidence [in Rowe] is high," Diggs said.

The Terps also have to be feeling good about their defense. Maryland has been banged-up on defense and played Saturday without a starter at each level.

But Farrand was back after he played just a limited amount of snaps against Syracuse last week because of a shoulder injury, and Farrand and fellow inside linebacker L.A. Goree helped the Terps limit an Indiana offense that entered Saturday averaging 33.7 points per game to just nine points through three-plus quarters.

Maryland gave up nearly 700 yards of total offense during its 40-37 loss to West Virginia on Sept. 13. Syracuse then rushed for 370 yards last week as the Terps were forced to play without several starters, including Farrand, for most of the game.

However, the Terps had allowed an average of just 3 yards per carry before the game against Syracuse and held standout Indiana running back Tevin Coleman to 79 yards Saturday, excluding a 43-yard run that he broke during the second half. Coleman finished with 122 yards and one touchdown.

Maryland also played well in the secondary. Indiana quarterback Nate Sudfeld, who had thrown for 599 yards in the Hoosiers' first two games, finished 14 of 37 for only 126 yards with no touchdowns and an interception.

The Terps face another test next week. Even without star quarterback Braxton Miller, Ohio State is 3-1 and beat Cincinnati, 50-28, on Saturday.

But the Terps could surprise some people during the next two months if they continue to play like they did Saturday.

"I feel like we're where we need to be," Rowe said. "You can always improve, but I feel like we're hitting our stride."

mzenitz@tribune.com

twitter.com/mzenitz

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