The Terps showcased talent on all sides of the ball against the Bison.
Maryland football rolled past Howard, 62-0, in its second game of the season. The Terps tallied 38 first-half points and continued to cruise from there. It was a full team effort as Maryland put up points and maintained its energy throughout the entirety of the matchup.
Now, Maryland has a shortened week heading into Friday’s game against Illinois, its first Big Ten matchup of the season and will look to ride out this momentum from its first two victories. Maryland has not won three consecutive games to start the season since 2016 when it defeated Howard, FIU and UCF.
The Howard game gave Maryland the opportunity to correct some of its mistakes from the first win against West Virginia and to showcase its depth of talent ahead of conference play.
“A great team with thought, you know, our team for four quarters regardless of who’s in the game, maintained the intensity that we wanted to have and we talked about that going into the game with the standard that we set,” head coach Michael Locksley said.
Let’s take a look at some key takeaways from Saturday’s matchup.
Dontay Demus Jr. had another exceptional game and continues to be a consistent talent for this team.
The expectations were high for Demus Jr. ahead of the season as he was one of two Terps, along with tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo, to be named to the Senior Bowl watch list. The senior was also named to the Biletnikoff Award watch list for the second consecutive year which honors the nation’s top receiver.
The last time a Terp earned this preseason recognition twice in a row was when Stefon Diggs did in 2013 and 2014. However, as the season begins, Demus Jr. continues to follow in some of Diggs’ footsteps.
Within the first five minutes of the game, Demus Jr. had his first reception of the matchup marking six consecutive games the wide receiver has caught a touchdown. Six games with a receiving touchdown is the longest active streak in the Big Ten and the longest streak in program history dating back to at least 1985.
Demus Jr. finished the first half with 107 yards making him the first Terp to have back-to-back 100-plus yard receiving games since Diggs in 2013. Diggs had 179 yards against Old Dominion followed by a 110-yard performance against UConn.
Against West Virginia, Demus Jr. had a career-high 133-yard performance and he finished the day against Howard with a team-high 128 yards.
The senior from Washington D.C. has been a steady presence for the Terps since his freshman year. Demus Jr. has played in all 34 games over the last four seasons and continues to make an impact.
“He’s been Mr. Consistent for us the last few years,” Locksley said. “But what I think you see now is, you know, the dividends from the work that he’s put in this summer.”
As a whole thus far this season, Maryland’s receiving corps has shined and given quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa a plethora of options to find deep for touchdowns.
Maryland’s receiving corps is filled with weapons between Demus Jr., Rakim Jarrett, Jeshaun Jones and Brian Cobbs and against Howard, Demus Jr., Jarrett and junior receiver Carlos Carriere all found the end zone.
Demus Jr.’s leadership stretches beyond his stats as he’s been able to lead the receiving core and play a role in helping develop this receiving group.
“Coming in, I would’ve thought he would’ve been like, ‘this is my receiving group, nobody else can even touch it.’ But, you know, he’s been welcoming me, he gave me tips and tools to help elevate my game and he’s really a team guy,” Jarrett said about Demus Jr. “That’s all you can really ask for in Dontay, he’s a great player too so he’s a special person.”
Maryland’s bench showcased its talent.
The benefit of playing a game in which a team shuts out its opponent by such a large margin is that the coaching staff is able to see some of its players who do not play very often out on the field.
Against Howard, they were able to do just that and showed what Maryland’s future could potentially look like.
With nine minutes remaining in the first half, freshman running back Colby McDonald had his first career rush which quickly turned into his first career touchdown. McDonald took the ball on a handoff from Tagovailoa and rushed 11 yards into the endzone for the touchdown extending Maryland’s lead in the second quarter.
Running back Peny Boone also recorded his first career touchdown against the Bison. With about five minutes to go in the first half, Boone had a 4-yard rush into the endzone.
With about eight minutes to go in the third quarter, quarterback Reece Udinski entered the game for Tagoviloa. On his first drive as a Terp, Udinski marched the ball down the field, 68 yards. He went 4-for-4 and finished off the drive with a touchdown pass to Carriere.
Running backs Roman Hemby and Antwain Littleton also showcased their potential. Hemby finished the game with 12 carries for 45 yards, a touchdown and a long rush of 11 yards. The freshman running back averaged 3.8 yards per carry. Littleton had eight carries for 29 yards and averaged 3.6 yards per carry.
“Well I was actually really pleased by that group,” defense back Tarheeb Still said. “That group’s actually really full, you know, got a lot of depth. There’s a lot of young guys that showed what they can do. So, that was just a glimpse of what those guys can do.”
On the defensive end, freshman defensive lineman Taizse Johnson came into the game and tallied a tackle as well as freshman defensive tackle Darrell Jackson who finished the game with a tackle.
“The future looks good for us,” Locksley said. “It was a great opportunity to play a lot of young players and develop a roster.”
The defense continues to stifle its opponents.
Although Howard’s offensive is not necessarily known to be prolific, Maryland held the Bison to just 146 yards and did not allow a single point. Dating back to the Terps’ first game against West Virginia, Maryland has held opponents to just three points in the last six quarters of play.
Maryland’s defense did not allow the Bison to convert on a single third down as they went 0-for-11. Against West Virginia, Maryland allowed the Mountaineers to convert on just five of its 14 attempts on first down meaning that the Terps have allowed just five third-down conversions in two games.
Howard also ran just 49 plays compared to Maryland’s 81 as the Terps had complete control over the possession clock. Maryland had the ball for over 37 minutes while the defense held Howard to just 19 minutes of offense.
This is a theme that carried over from the West Virginia game. The Mountaineers ran 61 plays while the Terps ran nearly the same number they did against the Bison, 80. In that first matchup, Maryland also controlled the clock holding onto the ball for 34 minutes while West Virginia was on offense for 26 minutes.
Another thread that carried through to this matchup was that linebacker Jakorian Bennett had an interception, his second of the season. This marked the first time a Terp has had back-to-back games with interceptions since linebacker Tre Watson recorded interceptions against Rutgers and Iowa in 2018.
Maryland’s defense finished the game with 37 total tackles with freshman linebacker Branden Jennings and freshman defensive back Dante Trader leading the charge. Jennings and Trader each had four tackles and Jennings had one tackle for a loss of yards.
Redshirt sophomore linebacker Deshawn Holt and grad defensive lineman Sam Okuayinonu also had some successful plays for the Terps, tallying three and two tackles, respectfully. Both players also recorded the two sacks Maryland’s defense racked up.
“I love football to death, man, and I respect Howard,” Holt said. “It was a great, great opponent and like I said, you just gotta get ready for next week.”