graduate transfer quarterback Josh Jackson, who made his first start since suffering a sprained ankle Oct. 5 at Rutgers, Maryland’s last win. “You can see progress. You can see us drive the field on a great defense, a very-well coached defense. Just little things we have to finish. We’ll continue to get better. A young team, we’ve just got to continue to keep working.”
Asked how he reacted to his team getting down early again, Locksley said, “I try to practice what I preach. I didn’t look at the scoreboard. Obviously I’m disappointed when the ball goes running down the field on the first kickoff return. It’s ‘so-what, now-what.’ We can’t fold the tent and the game is over.
“You just keep playing the game. As I told the guys, you don’t want to look up and worry about the score. Or worry about the culmination of it until zeros [are] on the clock. I think that’s where I saw us make strides as a team today and that’s the standard [to] which we’re going to play around here.”
It was the fourth straight loss and sixth in seven games for Maryland (3-6, 1-5), which now must play at No. 3 Ohio State next Saturday. The only touchdown for the Terps came on their own 97-yard kickoff return by junior running back Javon Leake in the fourth quarter. Michigan (7-2, 4-2) won for the fifth time in six games.
“Disappointed obviously with the score, the outcome of the game, but not with the effort, which for me was something I need to see from our team, and something I didn’t see last week,” Locksley said, referring to a 52-10 loss to the then-No. 17 Golden Gophers.
“We took a step forward in terms of the type of effort we need to play with for 60 minutes. And playing with heart and playing with pride, and I saw that all the way to the end.”
In opening the season with one-sided victories over Howard and then-No. 21 Syracuse, Maryland’s offense missed only one of 14 opportunities to score touchdowns in the red zone. Since then, the Terps are 8 of 18, including 0 for 3 against Michigan.
The first two trips came with Maryland already down 14-0., the third when the game was long over.
On the first, Jackson was hit as he threw on third-and-7 from the Michigan 12, the wobbly pass being intercepted by Michigan senior safety Josh Metellus. On the second, Jackson was sacked on third-and-10 from the 11, and sophomore kicker Joseph Petrino missed a 37-yard field goal.
“The red zone, a couple of plays, you don’t execute, you don’t get any points,” said
Jackson. “That’s our job, we can’t leave it on the kicker. On the pick, I guess I got to get the ball out a little faster. It’s just us, we’ve got to execute better. We’ve got to see it and get the ball in the end zone.”
After getting in for just one series last week, Jackson played nearly the entire game. He finished 9 of 20 for 97 yards, getting sacked four times. His return came against a team he grew up rooting for and where his father, Fred, was an assistant coach for 23 years.
Asked if there was anything special playing against the Wolverines, Jackson said, “Yeah, I really wanted this one. I grew up in Schembechler Hall, which is very important to me. … I definitely wore that uniform as a kid. Dad coached there my whole life. It was cool, but it obviously means nothing that we lost.”
Perhaps the most intriguing part of the game for the Terps was the appearance of freshman quarterback Lance LeGendre, a former four-star prospect who signed with Maryland on the second signing day in February after it was rumored that he was headed to Florida State.
LeGendre came in early in the game and ran a couple of plays in the red zone and then finished the game for Jackson. He wound up rushing seven times for 45 yards, and had the Terps on the verge of scoring a late touchdown when time ran out.
“That’s a special guy right there,” Leake said. “I can’t wait for him to get going. He’s a young guy, but he’s definitely going to be a great player for Maryland one day.”
For the second time this season and third time in his career, Leake had a kickoff return for a touchdown. Leake, who had a 100-yard return against Rutgers this season and another 97-yard return against Illinois last season, tied Torrey Smith for first place among Maryland kick returners in a career.
“It’s always fun, knowing you’re going to go out with your brothers and they’re going to block for you,” said Leake, who had just 38 yards rushing on seven carries. “You just try to make a play. It’s always fun to do that, just take it to the house.”
When told that he tied Smith, Leake smiled.
“That’s crazy,” he said. “I used to watch all the GOATs, kick returners that were here — Will Likely, Ty Johnson, Torrey Smith. I just looked up to them guys and picture myself doing it before I got here and it’s actually turned out well.”