The Husker football team has dropped four straight games and is now in danger of not making a bowl game — a goal at the beginning of the year. Thankfully for the Huskers, Maryland is going through a similar slump, losing five in a row. Something has to give on Saturday when the two face off in College Park, Maryland.
Here are four Terrapins to watch:
Josh Jackson, QB
Part of the reason the Terrapins have struggled this season is because of the inconsistent play from their starting quarterback. Josh Jackson has had an up-and-down season, completing under 50% of his passes, and missing a few games because of a foot injury.
Jackson left their last game against Ohio State with an injury but returned later in the game. With a bye week to recover, Jackson should be ready to go against the Huskers this weekend. If he can’t go, then Tyrrell Pigrome will start.
While Jackson has struggled at times this season, he does have a decent touchdown to interception ratio of 11 to 5. Jackson isn’t the most mobile quarterback either, so the Huskers should be confident pinning their ears back on the pass rush.
Javon Leake, RB
The Terrapins deploy a committee at running back with both Javon Leake and Anthony McFarland Jr. getting touches. McFarland was the more successful back last year, but that hasn’t been the case this year as McFarland averages 4.6 yards per carry compared to Leake’s 7.6 yards per carry.
Leake is a quick running back who can break off a big run at any moment. This is evident as he is also one of the best kick returners in the country, having returned two kicks for a touchdown this season. He is one of four players nationally who have returned multiple kicks for touchdowns. Nebraska gave up a kick return touchdown last week and will need to be focused on not allowing that to happen again.
Dontay Demus Jr., WR
Maryland doesn’t pass the ball much, sitting in the bottom third of the country in passing attempts. When they do pass the ball, it is most likely going to Dontay Demus Jr.
Demus Jr. currently has 33 receptions for 517 yards and five touchdowns. Those numbers on their own aren’t super impressive, but when compared to the rest of the team, it shows his importance to the Terrapin passing attack. The next closest in those categories is tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo, who has 18 receptions for 190 yards and two touchdowns. That disparity is huge and it shows the lack of weapons Maryland has in the passing game.
Because of Maryland’s dependence on Demus Jr., it will be important for the Huskers to know where he is on the field at all times.
Keandre Jones, LB
Maryland’s defense has struggled this season, but one bright spot has been senior outside linebacker Keandre Jones. Jones is a prototypical pass rusher who leads his team and is tied for fifth in the conference in sacks with seven. He is also third on the team in tackles with 53 and has two forced fumbles.
Last week, the Huskers struggled to protect sophomore starting quarterback Adrian Martinez from Chris Orr and Zach Baun of Wisconsin, who combined for three sacks. The Huskers will need to do a better job protecting Martinez this time around if the offense is going to succeed.