It’s been a bumpy start to the season for Maryland, and it does not look like it will level out any time soon.
The Terrapins are sitting at 2-3 coming off back-to-back losses as they prepare to travel to Columbus on Saturday to take on top-ranked Ohio State.
Here is a look at coach Randy Edsall’s team.
If you think the Buckeyes have had a complicated quarterback situation, think again.
Maryland has reinvented what it means to have a quarterback controversy this season. It began during the offseason and has yet to subside.
Redshirt junior Perry Hills won the three-way battle during fall camp and led the team to a season opening victory over Richmond — a Football Championship Subdivision program — but he was canned midway through Maryland’s disappointing loss to Bowling Green in favor of Caleb Rowe.
The fellow redshirt junior stepped in and started the last three games for the Terrapins — a win over South Florida and back-to-back embarrassing losses against West Virginia and then-No. 22 Michigan — but struggled immensely.
Rowe — who is dead last in passing efficiency among qualified quarterbacks — has thrown seven interceptions over the last two games, completed a harrowing 33 perecent of his passes and zero touchdowns. In the second half of both games, he was pulled for redshirt senior Daxx Garman.
Sadly for Edsall, Garman hasn’t been able to stop the Terrapin ship from sinking.
In his two relief appearances, the transfer from Oklahoma State has completed just six of 18 passes, has been sacked five times and tossed only one touchdown while also being picked off once.
So which one of these underwhelming résumés will Edsall choose to start in Columbus?
The coach said he does not even know, as he told reporters during his Sunday conference call that “everyone is in play.”
In fact, Edsall stole a page from OSU coach Urban Meyer’s book, saying he might not announce his starter until Saturday at noon. As of Tuesday afternoon, Maryland’s depth chart lists all three as co-starters.
However being on the road against the Buckeyes, it might not matter which of the three it is.
No help on defense
When a team’s offense struggles, sometimes the defense bails it out by shutting down opponents. Just ask this year’s Buckeyes about it.
Unfortunately for Maryland, the said scenario is not happening.
The offense ranks 114th nationally and second-to-last in the Big Ten, just ahead of Penn State. Defensively, the Terrapins are not much better, as they are 109th in the country for total defense and second-to-last in the conference, narrowly ahead of Indiana.
In its three losses, Maryland has given up point totals of 48, 45 and 28. Additionally, opponents are averaging 199 rushing yards per game.
The lone bright spot for the Terrapin defense comes on the pass rush, as the unit is tied for fourth in the country with 19 sacks.
But with the offense in a sizable slump — last week against Michigan it had only 105 yards — and the defense not being able to slow down opponents, victories appear like they will be hard to come by for Edsall’s Terrapins during conference play.
Offensive line is innocent
The bad quarterbacking cannot be blamed on Maryland’s offensive line.
The unit didn’t allow a sack in first three games and has let up just six overall — five of which have been when Garman was under center.
Most of its success in pass protection can be attributed to experience.
Redshirt junior left tackle Michael Dunn has started 30 consecutive games for Maryland, while redshirt senior right guard Andrew Zeller has appeared in 26 straight games — including 18 straight starts. Ryan Doyle, a redshirt senior, has a combined 31 starts at different positions on the O-line under his belt.
The veteran presence these three provide has been valuable for the Maryland offense, despite its ineptitude in other areas.
Mile-wide turnover margin
If turnovers have been slowing down OSU, then they have stopped Maryland.
The Buckeyes have a turnover margin of minus-four — tying them for 101st in the country along with three other Big Ten teams (Minnesota, Nebraska and Purdue) — but the Terrapins are even further in the hole.
Maryland has a turnover margin of minus-nine. Cincinnati is the only team with a greater deficit in the category.
The Terrapins, however, do take the crown for most turnovers, as they have coughed up the pigskin 17 times — two more than Cincinnati and Florida Atlantic.
With a defense as leaky as it is, the offense can’t afford to give opponents that many more offensive possessions, especially against the Buckeyes and the remainder of its conference foes.
Beyond the Buckeyes
After Saturday’s matchup versus OSU, Maryland will have a bye week before its scheduled contest against Penn State at home on Oct. 24. Kickoff time for that game is yet to be announced.