Maryland’s resounding 52-7 win over James Madison was a quality first step for the Terrapins, who played cleanly for four quarters. The team committed just five penalties and had just one turnover (an interception by Caleb Rowe when the score was 38-0 in the third quarter).
But Maryland didn’t get out fully clean: A team spokesman said after the game that redshirt freshman wide receiver Taivon Jacobs has a meniscus injury. Maryland will have more information on the injury on Sunday. Jacobs started at the third receiver slot Saturday and played one series before the injury. It happened on a deep throw by quarterback C.J. Brown to the end zone, in which Jacobs and a James Madison defensive back got tangled up. Pass interference was called on the Dukes, and Jacobs hobbled off and didn’t return.
The potential loss of Jacobs suddenly puts the wide receiver unit, thought to be the deepest on the team, in a thinning position. Levern Jacobs, who was projected to start as the team’s number three receiver, was suspended Friday night and will miss the rest of the season. Marcus Leak is experienced but is still working his way back from injury, and had two catches for 17 yards Saturday. Jacquille Veii is still transitioning to the position after being moved from running back a few weeks ago, and had a catch and a drop on Saturday.
The team’s two top targets, Deon Long and Stefon Diggs, combined for seven catches for 101 yards on a day that quarterback C.J. Brown struggled in the passing game. How the position looks next week and beyond could depend on the condition of Jacobs’ knee.
Here are more notes from Saturday’s win:
— Will Likely had a standout day; he was dominant in coverage, had four tackles and a sack. He also had a electrifying 35-yard punt return that was among the best plays of the day. It highlighted a banner day for the defensive backs; that included an interception by safety Anthony Nixon in the second half.
— Part of tonight’s gamer highlighted the performance of Sean Davis, who said the team watched a lot of Ohio State film to prepare for Saturday’s game against a team coached by Everett Withers, a former Buckeyes assistant. Davis finished with 10 tackles and two huge hits on James Madison quarterback Vad Lee.
Here’s Davis on the amount of blitzing by Maryland Saturday: “That wasn’t a part of the game plan, but we saw the opening and it worked so we just kept going with it.”
— Withers was very short in his answers and probably had the quote of the night: “I grade today an “F.” We lost. I grade all losses as “F’s.”
— Brandon Ross finished with 86 yards and a touchdown on a day when the team rushed for 295 yards. Wes Brown also had 81, and Edsall noted how violently the sophomore ran. Ross said he was happy with how the carries were broke down; he received 16, while Brown had 13. “I’m definitely glad we got the lead, so that they could rotate backs in there,” Ross said. “I’m just glad everybody got a decent amount of carries.”
— Starting linebacker Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil didn’t play Saturday, and was on the sideline in a walking boot. Sophomore Yannick Ngakoue replaced Cudjoe-Virgil and had five tackles. Cole Farrand, who was expected to play only in emergency situations because of a lingering leg injury, entered the game in the second quarter and played off and on the rest of the night.
–True freshman Jesse Aniebonam, a former Good Counsel star, made his debut Saturday. He finished with one tackle, but he crushed Lee on a near-sack and looked the part as a player able to get pressure off the edge.
Here’s Edsall on Ngakoue and Aniebonam: “Yannick Ngakoue has come a long way. It’s nice to see him get his share of reps today. He looked to have done his job and executed his assignments out there. Jesse Aniebonam is very talented. He’s got stuff you can’t teach in terms of speed and athletic ability. He is going to be a very talented player for us. I thought the guys that went in and played did a really good job.”
— C.J. Brown was very critical of his performance Saturday night. He finished 11 of 24 for just 111 yards, although he supplemented those out-of-sync numbers with three rushing touchdowns. Long, who was overthrown several times by Brown, had other ideas about Brown’s night: “I wouldn’t say his passing was unacceptable. We just need to come in and watch film and correct the things we need to have corrected. He’s actually gotten much better over the summer. His accuracy has improved. His balls have improved, I wouldn’t say that he passed the ball poorly.”
Here’s Randy Edsall on Brown:
“I really thought C.J. did a lot of really good things out there. You take a look at some of the runs he had out there and how he got in the end zone, I couldn’t be more proud of him. I liked how he conducted himself and handled himself today. He might have not lived up to his or our expectations in terms of completion percentage, but that’s something we can work on. He’s a competitor and warrior, and goes out there and lays it on the line.”