With both Jackson and McFarland missing against the Hoosiers, the Terps still had two late opportunities to muster what could have been a game-winning drive. Running back Javon Leake, the team’s best option behind McFarland, fumbled on the first play of the series that began with fewer than four minutes to go. The defense forced a field goal on Indiana’s following possession, but when Maryland received the ball again, Pigrome eventually threw an interception to seal the Indiana win.
Pigrome played better against Indiana than he did the previous week at Purdue, where he threw two interceptions and completed 21 of 39 passes. Against the Hoosiers, Pigrome had a mostly error-free outing until his final play of the evening.
Jackson, a graduate transfer from Virginia Tech, won the starting job over Pigrome in the fall. Jackson played well early in the season but struggled in other games. While Pigrome adds a dimension to the offense with his ability to run, Jackson brings accuracy and reliability to the pass game. Both Jackson and Pigrome will take reps with the first-team group this week. Locksley said Tuesday the player who starts against Minnesota will be a game-time decision.
“We’ll really get a better feel for where [Jackson] is” during Tuesday and Wednesday practices, Locksley said. “But it was good to see that there wasn’t the noticeable limp, there wasn’t the ankle brace on and he feels good.”
The welcomed return of Jackson should also be accompanied by the boost that comes from incorporating a healthy McFarland back into the offense. He suffered a high ankle sprain during Maryland’s third game of the year against Temple but played through it. Against Purdue, McFarland only had four carries for four rushing yards, along with some uncharacteristic mistakes that prompted Locksley to give his running back time to fully recover.
McFarland did not dress for the game against Indiana, so Leake took the brunt of the carries (158 yards on 23 attempts). After his injury, McFarland hadn’t reached the 100-yard mark in the three games that followed. He instead totaled 20 carries for 115 yards in those outings, and most of that production came by way of one 80-yard touchdown run. With McFarland back to what the Terps hope is his usual ability, Maryland will benefit from returning to its share-the-load mentality at running back.
“I do know [McFarland] was frustrated, as I was and as we were as a team, that he wasn’t at 100 percent,” Locksley said. “And to have 100 percent Anthony McFarland will help the Terps.”