Maryland Football Report Card: UCF

Pat Donohue, Staff Writer
Terrapin Sports Report

Welp, the Terps bye week certainly didn’t seem to do them any good. If anything, the case could be made that it slowed down their momentum after blowout victories in the first two weeks of the season.

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In the early onset, last Saturday’s game between Maryland and UCF looked like it was going to be a competitive battle like the year prior, which saw the Terps and Knights go to double overtime in Orlando. But once Maryland quarterback Kasim Hill went down midway through the first quarter, everything seemed to snowball for the Terps in front of their home crowd.

After scoring the first three points of the game, Maryland saw UCF score 38 of the game’s next 45 points on the way to a decisive out-of-conference win.

To look further into what went wrong and give some credit where credit is due, TSR gives out its Maryland football report card for the Terps’ 38-10 loss to UCF.

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Brandon Helwig/UCFSports.com

Quarterback: D

It can be absolutely deflating for a team when its starting quarterback goes down, which is what happened to the Terps for the second time this season. Hill didn’t get to have much of an impact on the game before tearing his ACL on a scramble in the first quarter, but he did complete both of his pass attempts for 23 yards.

Coming into a tough situation, sophomore quarterback Max Bortenschlager wasn’t able to do much with his opportunity. He finished the game 15-for-26 passing for 132 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Bortenschlager was off the mark on most of his throws and didn’t seem to have any chemistry with the first-team offense. Not to mention, he had awful protection from his offensive line throughout the game--but we’ll get to that later.

Bortenschlager was Maryland’s fourth quarterback on the depth chart back in the spring, but an injury-riddled group of signal callers in College Park has forced him into a starting role for the time being.

Running Back: D+

The UCF defensive front looked much better than many anticipated entering the game. This is a talented group on paper for sure, but a three-week layoff from playing seemed like it could make for a sluggish group against a Maryland backfield that has just been running through teams.

The Terps didn’t run through anything against the Knights--not that there were really any holes to run through anyway. The explosive Ty Johnson led the Terps in carries with 11, but only finished with 25 yards on the ground. With his 10 carries, Lorenzo Harrison led Maryland in rushing with 48 yards, which marked a season-high for the sophomore. But neither Terps rusher found much running room throughout the day and once the Knights built a large lead, Maryland’s backfield took a back seat.

Wide Receiver/Tight End: C-

We should probably start calling this category “Pass Catchers” or just keep it at “Wide Receivers” since it has become pretty clear that the Terps tight ends have virtually no role in Maryland’s offense.

Or maybe we can just name it “The DJ Moore Show” because that has been a fitting title for Maryland’s passing game this season. Moore once again easily led the Terps in receiving with eight receptions for 83 yards and a touchdown. He was the only Maryland player to reach the end zone against UCF, but team’s are going to start game planning solely around him if he doesn’t get some help soon from the rest of the receiving corps, which combined for seven receptions and 51 yards in the loss to the Knights.

Offensive Line: D-

For as good as Maryland’s offensive line looked through the first two weeks of the season, it was surprising to see their poor performance last Saturday. The Terps blockers were perhaps the biggest reason for Maryland’s lack of offense against UCF, as they failed to open up run lanes or pass protect. The Terps offensive line allowed five sacks against the Knights and played a big factor in the offense averaging 1.1 yards per carry and gaining only 197 yards total.

Defensive Line: D-

This game truly was lost in the trenches for the Terps. Maryland was punked on both sides of the line against UCF. While the offensive line acted as a revolving door, the defensive line also struggled and rarely came close to getting to UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton. The Terps registered no sacks and allowed the Knights to average 6.4 yards per carry on their way to 250 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.

Linebacker: D

Not a good day for the Maryland linebackers, not a good day at all. The Terps three starting linebackers combined for 13 tackles and had virtually no positive impact on the game. Senior Shane Cockerille, in particular, seemed out of position on many plays and the UCF offense took advantage by constantly running and throwing his way. Linebackers also need help from the secondary when covering talented tight ends like the Knights have in Jordan Akins, but the middle of the Terps defense did very little to stop Akins from catching three balls for 57 yards and a touchdown.

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Brandon Helwig/UCFSports.com

Defensive Back: C+

Maryland’s secondary is one of the few small bright spots of what was otherwise a terrible outing for the Terps. UCF learned quickly in the game that it was best off running the ball against the Terps because Maryland’s defensive backs were not letting up many big plays.

The Knights finished with only 30 pass attempts and 178 passing yards, albeit they played with a lead most of the game, but Maryland’s pass defense still looked much stingier than its ability to stop the run throughout the game. UCF connected on very few of its attempts to throw the ball down field and the Terps finished with seven passed defended. However, a few of those defended passes were near interceptions that could have really helped Maryland swing the momentum in its direction. The Terps will have to do a better job of taking advantage of their opportunities for turnovers moving forward.

Special Teams: C

You know it wasn’t a good day when the Terps punter was perhaps the player of the game for Maryland. Wade Lees set a new career-high for himself with a 64-yard punt in his very first attempt of the game against UCF. He followed that up later with a booming 57-yard punt in the second half. But it was all for naught, as the Maryland defense couldn’t stop the UCF offense throughout the day.

Field goals and kickoffs continue to be a problem for the Terps. Danny Sutton is still the kickoff specialist, but he’s hit or miss when it comes to reaching the end zone. Even when he makes it, it’s rarely deep into the end zone. Maryland replaced senior Adam Greene with grad-transfer Henry Darmstadter as the team’s primary field goal kicker before the Terps Week 2 meeting with Towson, but Darmstadter has been just as inconsistent. He missed a 34-yard field goal in the second quarter, which has to be made when your team is struggling, but he did connect on another 34-yarder before that to put Maryland on the board.

Overall Offense: D; Overall Defense: D; Overall Team: D

There’s not much more to say about all three phases of the Terps game against UCF. It was bad performance all around by Maryland, which failed to overcome adversity for the first time in 2017. There will surely be plenty for the Terps to learn from and a week of practice to gain some stability at the quarterback position should help the team a little bit as it gets set to enter Big Ten play.

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