Maryland Football: Taking a closer look at Nebraska
The Maryland football team has had two forgettable weeks against Michigan and Ohio State.
A trip to Nebraska is up next and things could get better as the regular season comes to a close.
The Cornhuskers are coming off a narrow 24-17 win over Minnesota this past weekend. It was their first game since a 62-3 drubbing at the hands of Ohio State.
Sound familiar? The Terrapins were beaten by the Buckeyes by the exact same margin.
For that reason, the Cornhuskers aren’t exactly in the same league as the Michigans and Ohio States of the world. Nebraska came up on the short end of the stick against their two marquee opponents in Ohio State and Wisconsin.
Here’s three reasons why Nebraska may not pose nearly as much of a threat as Maryland’s previous two opponents.
1.) Nebraska’s offense isn’t lethal
Maryland has faced the top two scoring offenses in the Big Ten over the past two weeks. Both teams average at least 44 points-per-game.
However, Nebraska isn’t exactly on that very same level.
The Cornhuskers averaged 28.3 points per contest, which isn’t too far off from what the Terps score on a weekly basis. Maryland averages 26.7 even though they’ve scored just six total points in the last two games.
Much like Maryland, Nebraska’s main offensive strength is their ability to run the football.
Senior running back Terrell Newby is currently averaging 4.9 yards-per-carry. He’s received double-digit carries in all but two games this season and has formed a nice one-two punch with quarterback Tommy Armstrong on the ground.
Newby always has the potential for a home run play and that’s something that Maryland will have to watch out for.
Armstrong is a dual-threat signal caller, but he may not even play as he’s dealing with ankle and hamstring injuries. If he does go, his running ability is his biggest attribute.
Armstrong averages 4.7 yards-per-carry and is second on the team in rushing. On the other hand, he’s completing 53.3 percent of his passes, which isn’t among the highest percentages in the Big Ten.
His mobility does keep teams on their toes, but Maryland does have some talented playmakers in their front seven.
2.) Teams can run on their defense
One of Maryland’s biggest strengths has been their ability to run the ball.
Nebraska is surrendering 141.7 yards-per-game, which isn’t in the upper echelon of the conference. The Cornhuskers also allow 4.4 yards-per-carry and only three teams are allowing more yards per clip.
The Terps could be without Lorenzo Harrison, who missed the Ohio State game due to suspension. Coach D.J. Durkin hasn’t announced whether or not Harrison will play in either of the final two games.
Even without Harrison, Maryland has a pair of very capable runners in Ty Johnson and Wes Brown. Johnson is currently averaging 8.5 yards-per-carry and has 656 rushing yards on the season.
Johnson has had a knack for the big play so far this season. He’s found the end zone four times, including a 66-yard scamper against Indiana a few weeks back.
The former Fort Hill (Md.) standout has a ton of speed and really could do some damage against Nebraska if the Cornhuskers aren’t careful.
3.) Cornhuskers don’t get to the quarterback
Nebraska’s defense is in the middle of the pack in the Big Ten.
Despite being a serviceable unit, the Cornhuskers really don’t do a good job of rushing the passer.
Nebraska only has 19 sacks on the season and is one of just four teams in the conference with less than 20 sacks. Ross Dzuris leads the team with 4.5 sacks, but there’s only one other player with more than two (Kevin Maurice).
Maryland’s offensive line was allowed the most sacks in the Big Ten with 32. The good news is that they won’t be facing a ton of resistance from Nebraska’s pass rush.
It’s unclear who will be under center for Maryland due to the shoulder injury to Perry Hills. He left Saturday’s game against Ohio State and was replaced by Caleb Rowe.
If the Cornhuskers do get in the face of a Terps quarterback, the screen game could benefit Maryland. They have the speed at the skill positions to gain adequate yards-after-catch.