Maryland ‘again to impartial’ forward of problem vs. No. 22 Penn State

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The dialog in and across the Maryland soccer locker room has turned markedly extra optimistic after breaking a three-game dropping streak Saturday in opposition to Indiana to get “again to impartial,” as coach Mike Locksley put it.

A tougher problem — and maybe probably the most troublesome a part of Maryland’s (5-3, 2-3) Massive Ten Convention schedule — begins this weekend in a rivalry matchup in opposition to No. 22 Penn State (5-3, 2-3).

“That is going to be a troublesome sport. We anticipate it to be robust,” Locksley advised reporters at his weekly availability. 

“They’ve had their means with us, should you have a look at the historical past of it.”

Locksley’s phrases are an understatement. In a sequence that’s greater than a century previous, Maryland has solely gained 3 times in 44 video games in opposition to Penn State. A kind of wins, nevertheless, got here final season: A 35-19 win at State Faculty throughout a season stunted as a result of coronavirus pandemic.

If there’s a greatest time for the Terrapins to get the Nittany Lions, this Saturday afternoon can be it. After incomes a top-five rating with a 5-0 begin, Penn State is available in on a three-game dropping streak, together with the notorious nine-overtime debacle at residence to Illinois.

And, Maryland will host Saturday, avoiding a highway sport in one of many loudest stadiums in faculty soccer.

Locksley acknowledged the potential for an inflow of Nittany Lions supporters within the stands, nevertheless, as the faculties are solely about three-and-a-half hours driving distance aside. Add within the important variety of Penn State alumni within the larger D.C. space.

‘We’re hopeful that we get our followers within the seats and never their followers,” Locksley mentioned. “I do know that their followers will do all they’ll to be within the ‘Shell’ and help their staff, however I’m hoping we will do our half to maintain them out of right here”

The Nittany Lions are tied with Wisconsin for the nation’s eighth-best scoring protection, permitting solely 17.0 factors per sport.

Despite the fact that Penn State’s offense has been inconsistent in latest losses to Illinois and Ohio State, a few of which derives from beginning quarterback Sean Clifford being banged up this season, the PSU protection, Locksley mentioned, has “contributed to protecting issues manageable” with athletic linebackers and a “fast-twitch” entrance seven.

“The entrance seven, it begins with them most likely attempting to ascertain a approach to cease the run,” Locksley mentioned. “Our problem will likely be for us to set up the run. We’re working diligently to get that again to the place we create somewhat extra steadiness in our offense.” 

There wasn’t a lot in the way in which of offensive steadiness in a 38-35 win over Indiana — of Maryland’s 498 yards, 419 got here by the air — and the Terrapins haven’t rushed for greater than 100 yards as a staff since September. However that doesn’t imply the Terrapins’ backs aren’t concerned within the offense, particularly senior Tayon Fleet-Davis, a key contributor on passing downs.

“Fleet’s a man that bought a really numerous ability set, by way of operating, receiving, blocking, catching. Due to his skillset, it creates a bonus,” Locksley mentioned.

Now at 5 wins on the season, Locksley mentioned reaching the postseason for the primary time in 5 years is “not one thing we might discuss earlier than” however “it’s now,” as Maryland stands a win from bowl eligibility.

“I believe that’s form of the massive image,” mentioned junior quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, who threw for a career-high 419 yards in opposition to Indiana. “Postseason is at all times good, however taking a look at our schedule, it’s not going to be simple.”

“We’ve bought to place an incredible week of labor collectively, exit and convey the power and energy that it takes to play to our commonplace and hopefully discover a approach to get a win,” Locksley mentioned.

“It’s right here now and it’s right here for our taking.”

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CELINE CASTRONUOVO

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