COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — Maryland interim coach Matt Canada came up with all sorts of reasons why the Terrapins‘ offense has been extremely inconsistent.
After talking Tuesday about the harsh wind in the game against Iowa, the Hawkeyes‘ ball control and the failure to get star running back Ty Johnson involved, Canada finally conceded, “We had a bad game, and ultimately it’s on me.”
Canada is serving as head coach while DJ Durkin is on administrative leave during an investigation of the culture of the football program. Canada has maintained his job as offensive coordinator, and he didn’t find much to like about Saturday’s 23-0 loss.
Maryland had the ball for only 39 plays, made only seven first downs and didn’t get over the 100-yard mark in total offense until the final minutes. Quarterbacks Kasim Hill and Tyrrell Pigrome combined to complete six passes for 47 yards and committed two turnovers, including a botched handoff that Iowa turned into a touchdown.
“It was very disappointing that we played the way we played,” Canada said. “I take full blame for it.”
Maryland (4-3, 2-2 Big Ten) will be in bounce-back mode Saturday at home against Illinois (3-4, 1-3).
“I take it very personally,” Canada said. “We’ll try to find the best way to get our players going.”
Illinois coach Lovie Smith watched tape of the Iowa game. He’s also seen Maryland’s offense when it was clicking, such as when the Terrapins beat Minnesota 42-13 on Sept. 22 and Rutgers 34-7 two weeks ago.
“Some games you just don’t play your best ball,” Smith said. “If you keep watching enough, you’ll see what they’re capable of doing. Look at the Minnesota game — they played pretty good football there. There’s a lot of skill on that side of the ball, and of course Matt Canada does a great job scheming.”
This will be the first meeting between the teams. Illinois is the only Big Ten team Maryland has not played since entering the conference in 2014.
Illinois should probably expect a heavier dose of Ty Johnson.
Ranked third on the Maryland’s career list in all-purpose yards, Johnson finished with 15 yards rushing on just four carries and caught two passes for two yards against Iowa.
“The plan didn’t work,” Canada said. “We thought we had a good idea going in. We were excited to get some of our athletes out in space, Ty being one of them. We didn’t play well enough. Obviously if we had more plays, he gets the ball more.”
The relentless wind had an impact on both teams — most notably Maryland.
“Their quarterback threw about six touchdown passes the week before and they didn’t have a pass over 16 yards,” Canada said. “The wind affected us on defense because they just ran the ball and got chunks, and it affected us on offense because we weren’t able to do that.”
Ranked 19th in the country at the time, Iowa controlled the tempo from the outset. The Hawkeyes ended up holding the ball for nearly 41 minutes and ran nearly twice as many plays as Maryland.
“First and foremost, our defense played really well,” Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz said Tuesday, “and our offense did a good job running the ball.”
Illinois might try to employ the same formula against the Terrapins.