Players to Watch: Maryland Terrapins
The Nittany Lions are seeking revenge on the Terrapins after losing a heartbreaker against them last season. Maryland won in Beaver Stadium last season 20-19 after managing a game-winning field goal within the final minute of the game. Penn State’s 19 points came off of four Sam Ficken field goals and a short touchdown to Jesse James. Maryland would go on to finish the 2014 season with a 7-5 record.
This season it’s a much different story for Maryland. They fired head coach Randy Edsall after three straight losses put the team at 2-4 and the defense allowed an average of 10 points more per game than the offense was scoring. Offensive coordinator Mike Locksley is currently the interim coach, and many changes have been made within the program and on the depth chart. Three different quarterbacks have played at some point for the Terrapins, and defensive shuffles have been made.
Here are the key players Nittany Lion fans will need to keep an eye out for this Saturday against the Maryland Terrapins.
No. 11 Perry Hills, QB
After some shuffling with the quarterback depth chart, junior Perry Hills has settled into the number one guy for Maryland. In five games, Hills has thrown for 439 yards with five touchdown and four interceptions. He’s also shown the ability to use his legs in the run game, finishing his last game with 170 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Expect to see a lot of designed run plays and read-options with Hills in the game. Luckily, the Penn State defense saw a lot of that with Army. Guys like Carl Nassib and Jason Cabinda will be key pieces when it comes to containing Hills.
No. 45 Brandon Ross, RB
Maryland’s senior running back Brandon Ross will definitely be a guy Penn State’s defense needs to keep an eye on. He’s a bit of a shifty runner, mainly because he can bounce away from defenders fairly well. On the majority of his runs he starts down hill then bounces to the outside and tiptoes his way down the sideline. While he’s only had two 100 yard rushing games this season, Ross is still a viable threat on this Maryland offense.
No. 4 William Likely, DB/KR
With Stefon Diggs now in the NFL, William Likely has stepped in to the kick return job quite. well. He’s an explosive returner who can cut his way down the field and give Maryland those extra-special special teams touchdowns. He averages over 20 yards on both punt and kick returns so far this season, and has also brought back two punts for touchdowns.
As a defensive back, Likely’s undersized frame can hurt him at times. At only 5-foot-7 it is easy for wide receivers to high-point balls over his head. After pulling down six interceptions last season (including a badly thrown Hackenberg deep ball), Likely has zero picks in 2015.
No. 7 Yannick Ngakoue, DL
While Yannick Ngakoue is not currently a household name, his great athleticism is starting to change that. Ngakoue is a speedy, highly athletic defensive end who punishes offensive tackles and gets into the backfield with ease. He managed to bring down Christian Hackenberg last year and also made some big tackles for loss against the Nittany Lions running backs. He’s currently tied for fifth in the nation in sacks with seven, which included three against Bowling Green earlier this season.
George Stockburger is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.