- The Washington Times
Tuesday, November 15, 2022

Maryland coach Mike Locksley told his players after their bye week in October that college football teams are remembered for what they do in November.

Unfortunately for the Terrapins, the month has been one to forget and one without reprieve so far as undefeated No. 2 Ohio State comes to College Park on Saturday.

“We need to find a way to win a game against a ranked team here at home this week. And that’s what all of my energy and focus has been about,” Locksley told reporters Tuesday.

Nothing went right for Maryland in a humbling 30-0 loss at Penn State last week. Locksley and his players have repeatedly cited “execution” as the problem, with the fourth-year coach blaming it again when questioned about play-calling decisions.

“I’m not saying this to be disrespectful: Every play you design and draw up is designed to work, because you’ve got everybody blocked on paper,” Locksley said. “But it takes one or two guys to not make their block, and now it doesn’t work.”

In many cases over the last two weeks, though, it’s come down to Maryland being overwhelmed and outmuscled at the line of scrimmage.

“If there’s anything that really jumped off the screen to me, it’s that Penn State, they out-beat us,” Locksley said. “They out-toughed us.”

On defense, that means the Terrapins have been unable to establish the edge. Both scores from Penn State running back Nicholas Singleton came off right tackle on identical fourth-down plays.

On offense, that means no time for Terrapins quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa or running back Roman Hemby to work. Tagovailoa has looked unsettled in the pocket since his return this month from a knee injury, and rightfully so: He’s been sacked 12 times in the last two weeks.

“Have we protected him very well? No, we haven’t,” Locksley said. “But there were opportunities for him to maybe not take as many sacks by getting the ball out. There were some guys open.”

“It’s my job to make sure we’re doing things to get him protected,” Locksley added. “We’re calling things that allows him to get the ball out of his hands quicker.”

Trying to correct the Terrapins’ recent shortcomings has involved introspection. In a meeting this week, Locksley asked his team, “Where are we?” Multiple players, both veterans and underclassmen, rose and spoke to acknowledge aspects they need to change and improve.

“I felt like it was a good heart-to-heart with the team that we needed,” Terrapins safety Dante Trader Jr. said. “It brought out a bunch of opinions and cleared the air, because I felt like a lot of us were frustrated from coming off two back-to-back losses where we didn’t play good.”

Maryland (6-4, 3-4 Big Ten) will need to make those corrections quickly against what Locksley believes is “probably the No. 1 team in the country.” Ohio State (10-0, 7-0) is one of only three programs to have both a top-10 scoring offense and defense. The Buckeyes have won 29 straight games against unranked opponents, the longest such streak in the nation.

“Specifically, we’ve got to be able to change the picture up on them, get them out of their groove,” Trader said. “Because once they’re in their groove, that’s a high-powered machine.”

Note:Locksley offered his condolences to Virginia coach Tony Elliott and his program after three players — Devin Chandler, Lavel Davis Jr. and D’Sean Perry — were shot and killed Sunday night by a former Cavaliers player as they returned from an off-campus trip to D.C. Two others were wounded, including Virginia running back Mike Hollins.

“Really personal. When things like this happen, it puts a lot of things into perspective, especially for me,” Locksley said, noting his son, Meiko, was shot and killed in 2017. 

• George Gerbo can be reached at ggerbo@washingtontimes.com.

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