One week after tearing apart a pretty awful FCS opponent in Howard, the Maryland Terrapins took its first road trip of the season to the Florida International Panthers. It would be a bigger test than Week 1, if for no other reason than having to play on the road.
However, the Terps were also facing a FIU program that put a good scare in to fellow Big Ten team, Indiana, last week.
Let’s jus say history did not repeat itself, as the Terps blasted the Panthers 41-14 to move to 2-0 on the young season. Given that scoreline, one has to wonder exactly what can be learned from a victory like that.
We’ve got you covered…and here are our first impressions following the victory.
Maryland’s Offense Is Going to Be Interesting for Big Ten Teams to Deal With
Taking apart a horrific Howard Bison defense is one thing…doing it against a FIU defense that gave Indiana some fits last weekend is a totally different thing. After a slow start, it was full speed ahead for Perry Hills and the Maryland offense on Friday night.
Just how slow of a start was it? Try these numbers at the end of the first quarter:
END OF 1ST QUARTER…#Terps leads 10-0
Here are your offensive stats: pic.twitter.com/0Nk2NCZJSs
— Maryland Terrapins (@talkingMaryland) September 10, 2016
By halftime things looked a whole lot different, with the Terps going in to the intermission with a 31-7 lead and still plenty more to come. Hills ended the half 10 of 13 passing for 144 yards and two touchdowns, while the rushing game racked up 107 yards and a touchdown as well.
Things didn’t change coming out of the half as Maryland’s offense came out swinging with gains of 21, 10 and nine yards rushing on its opening drive. Throw in a 17-yard completion on the drive and it was big play after big play against a defense that simply didn’t give them up in Week 1 against Indiana’s supposedly explosive offense.
Maryland’s offense was perhaps the most scary in the run game, with the ability to throw five or six legit options at a team. How does one stop that and then also worry about being hit with the big play in the pass game.
By the end of the game, Maryland had racked up 41 points on 478 yards (238 passing, 240 rushing). It was about as big a clinic as we’ve seen from a Maryland offense in a number of years.
After two games, the hire of Walt Bell as offensive coordinator is starting to look really good. It also likely has Big Ten opponents taking notice, and that is all you really can ask for in non-conference play.
There’s Still Plenty of Worry for the Defense
No doubt the headlines for this win will be all about the continued success for the Terps offense. It is a remarkable and quick turnaround, but the turnaround appears to be much slower on the other side of the ball.
Sure there was a nice interception that was returned for a touchdown by star linebacker Jermaine Carter, Jr. thanks to a quick tip from cornerback Alvin Hill. Yes, the Terps gave up just 14 points.
All of that is good news, but FIU wasn’t exactly firing on all cylinders as starting quarterback Alex McGough went down injured in the first half. With McGough in, FIU was able to hit some big gainers and put a scare in to the Terps defense early on.
Running back Alex Gardner put up a pretty impressive 109 yards on the ground, averaging 6.8 yards per carry and scoring the lone rushing touchdown for the Panthers.
Big plays and the inability to stop opposing run games were the problem for the Terps last season and it seems as if they are carrying over against actual FBS opponents.
Perry Hills Can Be Efficient in Pass Game
We’ve talked about the impressive look of the Terps offense already, but few saw the efficient effort of Perry Hills coming. It certainly shows that a healthy Hills is a dangerous one, and that was on full display in his near three full quarters of action against FIU on Friday.
One couldn’t ask for much better than going 13 of 18 passing for 210 yards and a trio of passing touchdowns. But, Hills did one-up that by leading the team in rushing when he left the game — rushing for 52 yards on just eight carries for a 6.5 yard per carry average.
If Hills is that efficient now, look for confidence to grow and that could be a dangerous thing for Big Ten opponents. No doubt it will help that the schedule doesn’t include some of the best defenses in the conference (Wisconsin, Iowa…we’re talking about you).
Don’t be surprised to see Hills as one of the better QB’s in the Big Ten if these type of efficient and most importantly, mistake free, games