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Taivon Jacobs, Matt Canada Remain Confident In Terps' Passing Game

October 10, 2018
The Maryland football team ranks last in the Big Ten with just 127.6 average passing yards per game, more 20 yards behind the next lowest team, Illinois. During their 42-21 loss to Michigan Oct. 6, the Terps managed 73 passing yards compared to the Wolverines' 294 yards through the air. 

Despite those early season struggles, neither senior wide receiver Taivon Jacobs nor interim head coach Matt Canada expressed concern Oct. 9. 

"The passing game has been a great spot," Jacobs said after the team's practice. "We have a lot of talent on this team and a lot of offense, so it's just hard to find ways to utilize everybody. We're still getting used to that."

Each game will have a unique offensive approach, Canada said, but overall the passing game can improve. 

Canada, who doubles as the Terps' offensive coordinator, hopes to spread the ball around more and get the receivers more involved as the season progresses. Jacobs and junior receiver DJ Turner lead the team in catches with 13, but no other Terp has more than six catches. Freshman receiver Jeshaun Jones had 73 receiving yards during the season opener against Texas but has just 29 yards since then. 

"Well, we've got to get them the football more," Canada said. "Our receivers are working hard. I'm excited to see them touch the ball more, which we can say is all on me, but we've all got to do our job. They're playing well and we've just got to get them more involved in the game."

Jacobs, who has been in College Park, Md., since 2013, isn't going to fret. The sixth-year senior has been through tough stretches before -- he missed the 2016 season due to injury -- so a struggling passing game won't distract him from his goals. Jacobs bounced back from his injury by posting 553 receiving yards and five touchdowns on 47 catches in 2017.

Now, he's 46 yards away from 1,000 career yards. Jacobs didn't even know about that milestone until a team spokesman told him, he said. 

"It's always a great accomplishment, a milestone, to be part of such a great group," Jacobs said of the 1,000-yard club.

While Jacobs has stayed healthy the past two seasons, the Terps' quarterbacks have been unable to do the same. Five different quarterbacks attempted a pass last year. Maryland's top two quarterbacks, Tyrrell Pigrome and Kasim Hill, suffered season-ending ACL injuries early on.

Hill has started all five games this year and has thrown for 578 yards on 54.6 percent passing, while Pigrome has appeared in all five games and has run 19 times for 113 yards. Despite their recent struggles against Michigan, Jacobs has faith in both quarterbacks, and he hopes it leads to more winning than last season when the Terps won two Big Ten games. 

"They're both exceptional," Jacobs said. "They both can run, they both can pass, so they're always a problem for a lot of defenses."

Injury updates

The Terps announced senior defensive end Brett Kulka is out for the season after he missed the Michigan game Oct. 6 and underwent knee surgery Oct. 9. Kulka was a team captain this year after posting a career-high 30 tackles last season. 

On the offensive side of the ball, junior running back Jake Funk was participating in practice Oct. 9 while wearing a yellow non-contact jersey. Funk broke his hand in practice before the team's meeting with Bowling Green in September and has been out the past month.

Senior running back Ty Johnson was also practicing after being helped off the field against Michigan.

Missing Tre Watson to start the Rutgers game

The Terps will be without senior linebacker Tre Watson for the first half against Rutgers Oct. 13 after he was ejected for targeting during the third quarter against Michigan. Per NCAA rules, Watson must sit out the first half of Maryland's next game.

Watson is the Terps' defensive leader so far this season with 49 total tackles and two interceptions. He transferred from Illinois before the season.

"It's going to be tough but we've got depth on this team," cornerback Tino Ellis said. "Guys like [linebackers] Isaiah Davis and Chance [Campbell] have to step up and make plays in the game."

Blackshear the focus

While Rutgers has not won since their season opener against Texas State Sept. 1, Canada and Jacobs praised the Scarlet Knights Oct. 9. Jacobs was general with his praise, but Canada focused on Rutgers running back Raheem Blackshear. 

Blackshear leads his team with 362 rushing yards and has also added 142 yards on 25 receptions. Blackshear has three touchdowns, which ranks second on Rutgers. 

Rutgers offensive coordinator John McNulty called him the team's best player earlier this season, according to NJ.com

"I think he's a tough guy, a physical guy and they do a good job of getting him the ball," Canada said. "Offensive football is matchups and they do a very good job, I think, of going in week to week looking at who we're going to matchup [against]."

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox