The Maryland football team lost at Penn State, 38-3, to finish 5-7 and fall short of bowl eligibility. Here are five takeaways from the loss:
1. The Terps probably emptied the tank against Ohio State Nov. 17.
Maryland exchanged body blows with Ohio State in College Park, Md., Nov. 17, taking a top-10 Buckeyes team to overtime before falling in
. It was the second straight week the Terps had come up barely short of clinching bowl eligibility; they lost, 34-32, at Indiana Nov. 10, in a game that came down to the final possession.
Penn State set the tone Nov. 24 by scoring in four plays on the first possession of the game. Quarterback Trace McSorley got the drive started with a 34-yard throw to receiver KJ Hamler, and running back Miles Sanders followed it up with a 35-yard run down to Maryland's 5-yard line. It was that kind of day for the Terps: they couldn't stop the Nittany Lions, who rushed for 310 yards, and the Terps' offense couldn't block the Lions or string together many positive plays.
Maryland looked like an emotionally exhausted team playing against a superior opponent, and the score reflected that.
2. Redshirt sophomore Tyrrell Pigrome, the leader in the clubhouse to start at quarterback next year, finished the year with mixed results.
Pigrome took over for redshirt freshman Kasim Hill for the balance of the season after the latter tore the ACL in his left knee against Indiana. Pigrome completed 10 of 13 passes for 146 yards against the Hoosiers; he dug the Terps out of an early hole but turned the ball over on the final drive of the game. Pigrome threw just 13 times against Ohio State; he hit on some big plays but couldn't connect with freshman receiver Jeshaun Jones for the game-winning two-point conversion.
He completed 14 of 23 passes for 185 yards against Penn State, and he showed much of what he did against Indiana and Ohio State: the athleticism to extend plays and a deft touch on deep balls but also the need for an improved feel in the pocket and on short and intermediate throws. Pigrome will likely be the team's No. 1 quarterback in the spring and has to be the current frontrunner to start at quarterback next year, especially with Hill's timetable unknown.
3. A lot of seniors who played a lot of football played their final game for Maryland.
Left tackle Derwin Gray, right tackle Damian Prince and center/guard Brendan Moore -- three-fifths of the starting offensive line for the past three years -- played their final game for Maryland Nov. 24. Senior running back Ty Johnson, who
became the fourth Terp
to ever eclipse 4,000 all-purpose rushing yards earlier this year but has been in and out of the lineup due to a calf injury, sat out.
Defensive lineman Jesse Aniebonam, who recorded 15 sacks throughout his time at Maryland, will also move on. So, too, will safety Darnell Savage, who developed into one of the
best defensive backs
in the Big Ten. Inside linebacker Tre Watson, who more than capably filled a position of need as a graduate transfer, finished his Maryland career, too.
4. Maryland has some skill guys on offense returning.
The Terps' top returner on offense will be running back Anthony McFarland, who will be a redshirt sophomore next year. After redshirting the 2017 season to round back into football shape after suffering a broken leg as a senior in high school, McFarland showed off the talent that made him one of the best running backs in the nation at DeMatha. Armed with a combination of quickness and explosion, McFarland ran for 1,034 yards this year.
Maryland will return receivers Jeshaun Jones, Dontay Demus and Darryl Jones, all of whom came on strong down the stretch. On the defensive side of the ball, the Terps' top returners look like defensive backs Tino Ellis, Antwain Richardson and Antoine Brooks.
5. Maryland has a decision to make on interim head coach Matt Canada.
Canada did a commendable job leading a program that entered the season in a state of turmoil following the offseason death of 19-year-old offensive lineman Jordan McNair and the subsequent revelations about McNair's death and the program itself. Whether the Terps' next permanent coach is Canada or someone else, the top priority for the team and school will be to ensure the program is a safe place for student-athletes to develop as players and people.
The next coach will also have the task of competing in the Big Ten East against Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan, which are perennially top-10 teams and recruit heavily in Maryland's backyard. The new skipper will also have to get the Terps out of their years-long stretch of mediocrity: they're 82-103 since 2004.
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