The Terrapins (2-1) made wholesale personnel changes to their offense after a week two debacle that ended in a 48-27 home loss to Bowling Green, promoting backup quarterback Caleb Rowe to the starting position over Perry Hills, and featuring two new starting receivers in Taivon Jacobs and D.J. Moore.
Head coach Randy Edsall said prior to last week’s game that he hoped the changes would make Maryland’s offense more dynamic, and that Rowe had the ability to stretch defenses in the vertical passing game, which would open up the rest of the field.
For one week, coach Edsall was right. Despite throwing an interception on Maryland’s third offensive play of the day, which resulted in a touchdown for USF, Rowe kept his composure and bounced back. The redshirt junior finished the day 21-of-33 through the air for 297 yards and four touchdowns, but he did throw two additional interceptions throughout the course of the game.
Wide-outs Jacobs and Moore each made contributions after seeing their roles in the offense increased. Jacobs caught two passes for 82 yards and a touchdown, while Moore chipped in three catches for 47 yards.
Maryland’s defense, which was torched for 692 total yards against Bowling Green in week two, held the Bulls to 300 yards of total offense Saturday and limited them to 60 yards through the air. The Terrapin secondary had given up 491 passing yards the week prior.
“We are coming off a good win over South Florida here this past weekend. I thought our guys played pretty well. We were more productive offensively and our passing game was better. I thought defensively we did a better job communicating, and then I just thought we played a very solid game in terms of our special teams,” said head coach Randy Edsall.
While Maryland was getting some of its new players’ feet wet against South Florida, West Virginia had the luxury of increased scouting time with an open date on its calendar last week. The 2-0 Mountaineers got the chance to sit back, relax, and watch for tendencies and possible areas to exploit Saturday afternoon, while the Terrapins had to put in a tough three-hour work day against the Bulls.
“We’ve got a tough one this week against West Virginia, who is 2-0, and had last week off. They’re playing at a very high level on offense and defense, and are loaded with a lot of experienced players coming back on defense. They also have a very good punter and place kicker. It will be a challenge for us when we go to Morgantown this weekend,” Edsall said.
While most coaches do some sort of breakdown of all three phases of their opponent’s game, Edsall isn’t just blowing smoke when he praises the Mountaineer specialists. He got firsthand experience of how dangerous they can be when WVU kicker Josh Lambert silenced Byrd Stadium with a 47-yard dagger as time expired against the Terrapins in 2014.
Lambert won’t be the only talented place kicker on the field Saturday, however, as the Terrapins boast last year’s Lou Groza Award winner Brad Craddock as the leader of their special teams.
“Josh Lambert is an outstanding kicker. He was a finalist for the Lou Groza Award that Brad won last year. He’s having a really good year this year, and I know Brad really liked him as he got to know him last year at the functions they were at,” Edsall said.
“I think those are two outstanding kickers in this game; place kickers who work very, very hard. Last year Josh beat us on a field goal at the end of the game, hopefully that doesn’t happen this year.”