Temple next for Maryland football team’s season of adversity
The Terrapins have stayed together in light of the tragic off-season death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair.
For a team that has faced so much adversity and turmoil during the offseason, Maryland has responded remarkably well.
The Terrapins take a 2-0 record into Saturday's game in College Park against Temple (noon, Big Ten Network).
Temple is attempting to rebound from an 0-2 start.
Maryland, meanwhile is playing with heavy hearts after the death during the spring of offensive lineman Jordan McNair.
The 19-year-old McNair was hospitalized May 29 after a team workout. He died June 13,
On Aug. 11, head coach D.J Durkin was placed on administrative leave amid allegations of poor behavior of the football staff that came to light after McNair's death.
Offensive coordinator Matt Canada was named interim head coach.
This move came after an ESPN report that described a toxic coaching culture under Durkin.
Maryland will announce independent investigation findings into McNair's death on Sept. 21.
Canada was hired Jan. 23 as offensive coordinator, after serving in the same capacity for one season at LSU.
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"As a staff, we are all together in this, we are all sticking together, we are all working very hard," Canada said during Tuesday's Big Ten media conference call. "From the moment this all started to occur which was a very horrible, hard day for us with Jordan, I think as a staff we have put our players first, we have focused on our players…"
Maryland, which was 4-8 last year, set the tone for the season with a 34-29 opening day win over Texas at nearby FedEx Field. Texas entered the game ranked No. 23.
Last week Maryland won 45-14 at Bowling Green, after outscoring the Falcons, 28-0 in the fourth quarter.
"It is a great credit to our players," Canada said. "I think the job they have done of taking everything a day at a time and focusing on just each other and obviously on game day, focusing on finding a way to win no matter who gets the credit and it is amazing what you can accomplish when nobody cares who gets the credit."
Canada says the biggest adjustment he has had to make on game-day, is calling the offensive plays from the field. As a coordinator, he always worked in the press box.
Maryland has used a balanced attack, with seven players having scored at least one touchdowns (while Temple has five). The Terrapins have committed just one turnover, compared to five for Temple. Redshirt freshman quarterback Kasim Hill has thrown two touchdowns and no interceptions in 45 passing attempts.
Four different running backs have gained 70 or more yards led by senior Ty Johnson, who has rushed for 154 yards, (6.7 average) and one touchdown.
On defense 11 different players have contributed at least one tackle for loss, led by junior linebacker Isaiah Davis who has 19 tackles and two sacks, both team highs.
"They are playing really good run defense and they are running the ball really well," said Temple coach Geoff Collins, whose team will wear a No. 79 sticker on their helmets on Saturday in remembrance of McNair. "…Hats off to Matt Canada. I think he is doing a really good job."
Temple at Maryland
Saturday, noon, Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium, College Park, Md.
Records: Temple, 0-2; Maryland, 2-0.
Coaches: Temple Geoff Collins (second season, 7-8); Maryland: (Matt Canada, interim, 2-0)
TV/Radio: Big Ten Network/97.5 FM, The Fanatic.
Series history: Maryland leads 7-1, with the most recent game a 36-27 Terrapins win Sept. 8, 2012 at Lincoln Financial Field.
Three things to watch
1. Can the Owls stop the Terrapins ground game? Last week Maryland rushed for 444 yards in its 45-14 victory at Bowling Green. That was the most by the Terps since gaining 444 yards against Virginia in 1999. In two games, which also includes a 34-29 victory over Texas, Maryland has rushed for 587 yards (5.9 average). Four players have rushed for 70 or more yards, led by Ty Johnson (154 yards, 6.7 avg.). Conversely, Temple has allowed 303 rushing yards (3.9 average).
2. The play of quarterback Frank Nutile. The graduate student has struggled in the first two games. He has completed just 52.38 percent of his passes for 401 yards, four touchdowns, but four interceptions. Last year he threw seven interceptions in his six starts, when the Owls went 4-2. Nutile has gotten off to slow starts in the losses to Villanova and Buffalo and how he performs early, could give an indication if the Owls will be competitive.
3. Getting pressure on the quarterback. Temple has just two sacks, with both coming against Villanova. Opposing quarterbacks have attempted 85 passes. Maryland's offensive line has allowed just one sack. A player to watch on the Maryland line will be Derwin Gray, a 6-foot-5, 330-pound senior who was an honorable mention Big Ten selection last year.