Maryland staggering to finish in Michael Locksley's first season
College Park, Md. — It’s been a struggle for coach Michael Locksley in his first year at Maryland, and there’s no indication it’s going to get any easier.
The Terrapins have lost five of six, are coping with two injured quarterbacks and must face Top 25 mainstays Michigan and Ohio State over the next weekends.
Locksley insists the players have kept their focus throughout a slump that includes three lopsided defeats, including a 52-10 bashing last week at Minnesota.
“There hasn’t been a question for me of the effort,” Locksley said Tuesday. “I just haven’t seen the corrections that we have make on a daily basis translate on Saturdays.”
Maryland (3-5, 1-4 Big Ten) is well on its way to a fifth straight losing season. Locksley would have loved to win more often, but he’s in this for the long haul.
“We’re in Year 1 of the developmental stage of our program,” Locksley said. “We want to win every week, that’s our goal, but there are small battles within the game that we need to continue to show our players where we’ve taken some steps forward as we develop the standards of how we play the game.”
Maryland beat Howard, 79-0, in the opener and lost by six touchdowns last week, but that’s not necessarily the only takeaway from then until now.
“I think we’ve taken some strides from the first game until now,” defensive back Marcus Lewis said. “It’s been kind of roller-coaster season, but we’re only going to get better.”
The Terps enter Saturday’s game against No. 14 Michigan (6-2, 3-2) with uncertainty at quarterback after using three different players last week.
Tyrrell Pigrome hyperextended his left knee at Minnesota and is day-to-day. Saline's Josh Jackson (ankle) returned from a two-game absence to throw two passes before being benched, and third-stringer Tyler DeSue finished.
While Pigrome adheres to a limited schedule at practice this week, Jackson will work with the No. 1 offense and DeSue, a redshirt freshman, will guide the No. 2 unit.
After throwing seven touchdown passes in his first games, Jackson has tossed only three since — along with three interceptions. In his return last week, he was tentative and ineffective.
“I thought after he came off the field, I didn’t feel like he had his confidence,” said Locksley, who can only hope that won’t be the case against Saturday against the nation’s eighth-ranked defense.
“With the time off and having only played limited reps Saturday, I feel like he’s better,” Locksley said of Jackson, a transfer from Virginia Tech.
Running back Anthony McFarland Jr. is nearly 100 percent healthy after spraining his ankle in Week 3 against Temple. He can only hope the Terps also operate at full efficiency against the Wolverines.
“We’ve just got to come out and execute,” McFarland said. “Looking at the film last week, we just left a lot out on the field, whether it was one person missing a block or us running wrong routes. All 11 of us have to lock in on each play.”
Against Indiana two weeks ago, the Terrapins made a game of it after falling behind 31-21. Against Minnesota, an early 14-0 deficit seemingly put Maryland into panic mode.
That’s what happens sometimes to a team that needs to be taught and reminded about the right way to play.
“We shouldn’t know it’s 14-0. We shouldn’t watch the scoreboard,” Locksley said. “I thought we took steps forward against Indiana, but we took steps back last week in the consistency of understanding that’s the way you have to play. We keep trying to hammer home that philosophy and that standard.”
Michigan at Maryland
Kickoff: Noon Saturday, Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium, College Park, Md.
Records: No. 14 Michigan 6-2, 3-2 Big Ten; Maryland 3-5, 1-4
Line: Michigan by 21