The first two weeks of the 2019 season saw Maryland putting up points at an incredible pace, but none of that seemed to matter Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia. No. 21 Maryland (2-1) suffered the first loss of the Mike Locksley era in a 20-17 setback against Temple (2-0) in a game that saw Maryland unable to score any points inside the 10-yard line despite having multiple opportunities. Multiple goal-line stands and fourth down stops by Temple’s energized defense were the key to a big victory for the Owls.
While neither team really had much to be proud of on offense, Temple quarterback Anthony Russo turned in a fine day on the box score with 277 passing yards and three touchdowns. That included a 79-yard pass to Jaden Blue just two plays after Maryland took its first lead of the game in the third quarter to retake the lead. But the story of the game was the defense, who shut down Maryland time and time from start to finish to frustrate a Terrapins offense that had scored close to 100 points in the first half of their first two games, only to score two points before halftime on Saturday. Maryland certainly had their chances, but far too many points were left on the field despite knocking on the doorstep.
Neither team was effective on third downs in the game. It took a combined 16 failed third-down conversions before Maryland converted back-to-back third downs late in the first half. But the teams then combined for 8-of-35 on third down. Maryland quarterback Josh Jackson was off the mark all afternoon, completing 15 of 38 passes for 183 yards. Temple wasn’t able to slow down Anthony McFarland on the ground (163 yards) but they did stuff the Maryland running game when it counted the most.
The hits piled up for Maryland too as offensive lineman Terrance Davis left the game with a lower-body injury. He was helped off the field after appearing to have his left leg rolled on by a defender at the end of a play, and he returned to the Maryland sideline in street clothes.
Maryland will get the next week off to prepare for their Big Ten opener. The Terps host Penn State on Friday, Sept. 27. The Nittany Lions, who have dominated the all-time series, will also be coming off a bye week after facing Pittsburgh in State College this afternoon. Because Maryland lost to Temple, the chance of seeing both Penn State and Maryland ranked in the same game for the first time since 1985 was wiped out.
Temple will hit the road next week to play at Buffalo. Buffalo defeated Temple in the season opener in 2018, 36-29, snapping a three-game winning streak by the Owls in the series.
The ACC entered Week 2 with just two schools ranked in the Associated Press Top 25. Based on an early game Saturday, that number could very well be sliced in half by Sunday afternoon.
Maryland, which won its opener 79-0 under first-year head coach Mike Locksley, kept its offensive machine rolling right along as they scored 42 first-half points en route to a 63-20 waxing of No. 21 Syracuse. The Terrapins put up 650 yards of offense, with 296 coming through the air and 354 on the ground. They averaged an impressive 7.9 yards on their 45 carries for good measure.
Josh Jackson, the graduate transfer from Virginia Tech, finished just four yards shy of becoming the first Terps’ 300-yard passer since Caleb Rowe in 2013.
Including the opener, the Terrapins have now scored 142 points in two games this season; their first five games last season, they scored 158 in going 3-2.
For Syracuse, it was the football program’s worst loss since they were drubbed 56-10 by Louisville in November of 2017. And, in the bigger picture, it was about the worst thing that could happen for the very top-heavy ACC.
Syracuse will drop out of the Top 25, which will leave the conference with just No. 1 Clemson, which faces No. 12 Texas A&M Saturday, guaranteed to enter Week 3 in the rankings. There’s a possibility that Virginia, tops in the “Others Receiving Votes” category in the most recent poll and 52-17 winners over FCS William & Mary Friday night, could slide in at the back end, but that’s far from guaranteed.
It also means that College GameDay, which was very likely headed to the Syracuse-Clemson game next Saturday, will instead make the trek to Ames for the annual Iowa-Iowa State grudge match.
To the surprise of almost nobody, perhaps, Josh Jackson will be the starting quarterback for the Maryland Terrapins this fall. Head coach Mike Locksley made that decision official on Monday as the Terps are preparing for their season opener this weekend against Howard.
Jackson was the starting quarterback at Virginia Tech each of the past two seasons, although his 2018 season was cut short due to injury last September. Jackson underwent surgery for a fractured left fibula after suffering the injury in an upset loss to Old Dominion early in the 2018 season. Jackson had completed 36 of 58 pass attempts for 575 yards and five touchdowns with one interception and rushed for 61 yards and a touchdown for the Hokies in 2018. As a freshman in 2017, Jackson passed for 2,991 yards and 20 touchdowns with nine interceptions and he rushed for 324 yards and six more touchdowns for the Hokies.
Jackson transferred to Maryland this offseason as a graduate transfer. The addition of Jackson was a nice addition for Locksley fresh into the job and was expected to give Maryland a solid option at quarterback to begin the season. Maryland ranked 13th in passing offense in 2018 with just 141.3 passing yards per game as a team, with the third-fewest touchdowns thrown (12, tied with Michigan State; only Illinois (10) and Rutgers (5) had fewer touchdowns thrown among Big Ten teams) in the conference. No team in the Big Ten attempted fewer passes per game than Maryland last season, with just 20.1 attempts per game.
Supposing Jackson retains the job after the season opener, he’ll go head-to-head against a former ACC foe, Syracuse, in Week 2. Jackson did not face the Orange during his brief time at Virginia Tech.
Justin Fuente is sticking with what works.
On Thursday, the Virginia Tech head coach confirmed to reporters at a press conference that senior Ryan Willis has kept the starting job and will be QB1 for the team when they open against Boston College in Week 1.
Willis took over early last season when previous starter Josh Jackson suffered a broken leg against Old Dominion. The latter wound up transferring to Maryland while Willis, a transfer himself from Kansas, threw for 2,716 yards, 24 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 2018. Though he did keep the Hokies’ bowl streak alive — barely — thanks to a win over rival Virginia in the final week of the regular season, Willis was just 4-6 as a starter overall.
Fuente and company will certainly hope for better play out of the position with another year in the system and can get off to a good start in 2019 with three straight home games against ODU, Furman and Duke following their trip to Chestnut Hill on Aug. 31.
Blacksburg has become quite the fertile recruiting ground for Mike Locksley’s first-year Maryland football program.
In January, wide receiver Sean Savoy completed his transfer from Virginia Tech by moving on to Maryland; four months later, Savoy’s former teammate, Josh Jackson, became his current teammate yet again as the quarterback moved to the Terrapins from the Hokies. Wednesday, Dejuan Ellis indicated that he will join those former teammates as he too has decided to transfer to the Terps.
The wide receiver had opted to transfer from the Hokies earlier this offseason.
Ellis was a three-star member of Tech’s 2018 recruiting class. The Owings Mills, MD, native took a redshirt as a true freshman.
It’s believed the receiver will be forced to sit out the 2019 season, leaving him with three years of eligibility moving forward.