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Four Observations On The Terps' Loss To Ohio State

October 7, 2017
Maryland lost to Ohio State, 62-14, in Columbus, Ohio Oct. 7. The Terps are now 3-2 overall and 1-1 in the Big Ten. Here are four observations on Maryland's loss:

1. The Terps still have a lot of work to do.

DJ Durkin’s first season as Maryland head coach last year featured a lot of positives, but also a dose of reality: the Terps lost to top-tier Big Ten East foes Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan by a combined score of 159-20. If Maryland was to take the next step in its development as a program this year, the Terps were going to have to be more competitive against the powers of the Big Ten.

The early returns were not positive at Ohio State Oct. 7. The Buckeyes were ahead, 14-0, less than four minutes into the contest and secured a 41-7 lead just before halftime. Maryland was out-gained, 361-26, by Ohio State in the first half, and sophomore quarterback Max Bortenschlager completed just two passes for 14 yards. The Buckeyes had 18 first downs in the first half; the Terps, just two. 

Ohio State was noticeably bigger, stronger and faster than the Terps on both sides of the ball, as the Buckeyes controlled the line of scrimmage. Maryland couldn’t create any room for running backs Ty Johnson and Lorenzo Harrison and the Terps' defense couldn’t get anywhere near Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett, giving him ample time to find open receivers.

The Buckeyes had 24/7 Sports' second-rated recruiting class in the nation in 2017; fourth in 2016; seventh in 2015; third in 2013. Ohio State's talent level was evident Oct. 7 and offered a stark reminder of the uphill battle Durkin and his staff face in competing both on the recruiting trail and the field in the Big Ten East.

2. Maryland might be down to one healthy scholarship quarterback.

With the Terps down, 55-7, late in the third quarter and trying to find a rhythm on offense before leaving Columbus, Bortenschlager became the third Terps’ quarterback to leave a game with an injury this year.

Facing a third-and-8, Bortenschlager scrambled up the middle and slid to avoid contact. Ohio State's Damon Arnette hit Bortenschlager as he was sliding, appearing to contact the quarterback's helmet. Bortenschlager was down on the field for a few minutes but walked off the field under his own power. Arnette wasn’t flagged for a penalty, which irritated Durkin. The play was reviewed and Arnette was called for targeting and ejected.

Junior Caleb Henderson entered for his first action of the season and finished out the game but completed no passes. Henderson was the last available scholarship quarterback; walk-on Ryan Brand was the third-team quarterback entering the game. Durkin didn't offer an update on Bortenschlager after the game, per Roman Stubbs of the Washington Post.

3. Maryland couldn’t move the ball.

The Terps' offense, after a week of practice with Bortenschlager under center, made positive strides during a 31-24 victory at Minnesota Oct. 1. Bortenschlager managed the offense, completed 18 passes and the Terps ran for 262 yards against the Gophers. It became quickly apparent against Ohio State that Maryland’s offense wouldn't build on that effort at all.

Bortenschlager was stripped by Ohio State’s Nick Bosa on the Terps’ third play from scrimmage, and the fumble was returned for a touchdown by Jerome Baker. The next six drives for Maryland's offense to complete the half lasted five, seven, three, four, three and three plays and resulted in no points. 

Even when Maryland's offense was set up in favorable field position, the Terps couldn't do anything with it. Edge defender Chandler Burkett blocked a field goal that gave the Terps the ball around midfield at the end of the first quarter. Safety Josh Woods forced a fumble that was recovered by Burkett on Ohio State's very next drive that again gave the Terps the ball around midfield.

Maryland tried to establish its running game but the Buckeyes stacked the box and stifled Johnson and Harrison. Ohio State also challenged the Terps' receivers with aggressive one-on-one coverage on the outside, and Bortenschlager never burned them. He nearly connected with junior receiver D.J. Moore for a long touchdown, but Moore, who was blanketed down the field, couldn’t corral quite corral throw with one hand.

Maryland completed three passes all day.

4. The Terps' defense quickly wore down.

Maryland’s defense allowed touchdowns on its first two drives, but the unit didn’t allow points during Ohio State's next three drives, with Woods’ forced fumble being the highlight. But Maryland’s defense wore down after the Terps' offense couldn't get the team back into the game with the opportunities it was presented. 

The Buckeyes closed the first half with three straight touchdown drives to ice the game. Barrett completed 20 of 31 passes for 261 yards and three touchdowns for the game, while nine Buckeyes caught at least one pass. Star freshman running back J.K. Dobbins ran 13 times for 96 yards and a score. Former Maryland commit Dwayne Haskins entered at quarterback in relief of Barrett in the second half and finished the game.

Another concern for the Terps' defense is the status of senior linebacker Shane Cockerille, who didn't make the trip to Columbus, per Stubbs. Durkin said after the game that Cockerille is "day-to-day" with the team, according to Stubbs. Cockerille, a starting linebacker, missed all of spring ball earlier this year due to what Durkin described as "responsibilities he needs to fulfill."

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox