By Mark F. Gray, AFRO Staff Writer, [email protected]
The only good that came from Howard University’s visit to the University of Maryland on Aug. 31 was the size of the guaranteed pay day. Minus travel expenses, it was an all profit beatdown as the Terps rolled the Bison 79-0 in College Park.
Maryland’s win was to be expected after Alabama Coach Nick Saban’s protege, Mike Locksley, led the team onto the field for the first time as full time head coach. In 2015, Locksley became the school’s first Black head coach when he was given the interim title after Randy Edsall was fired for compiling a 2-26 record in late September. Perhaps, Locksley had something to prove, and last Saturday he did just that.
The Terps led 56-0 at halftime, after an offensive explosion that would ultimately generate 623 yards. Maryland displayed a diverse offense that can now push the football downfield on the arm of Virginia Tech transfer quarterback, Josh Jackson, who barely broke a sweat. Jackson passed for 245 yards and four touchdowns before heading to witness protection during the second half. Having already proved that they have one of the most prolific rushing attacks in the country over the last two years. Maryland was dynamic in the opening game of the Locksley era.
Despite the new coaching staff and an influx of talent, Maryland shouldn’t have been 79 points better than Howard. The Bison entered the game with three preseason all American players and junior quarterback Caylin Newton was listed as an FCS National Player of the Year candidate. As a freshman two years ago, he led the Bison to the biggest upset in college football history when they went to Las Vegas and beat UNLV.
Newton was shutdown and ultimately retired for the afternoon following a 3-for-11 23 yard passing effort with five sacks. It was less about Newton’s struggles, and more about Howard’s inability to make adjustments to pick up constant Maryland’s blitzing that left them vulnerable. “I thought our kids battled and played hard today,” Prince said afterwards. “We got outcoached. We can do a better job as coaches. We were soundly beaten in all phases.”
The Bison had no answers when they tried to run the football and finished the game with one yard rushing. “We were trying to establish the run [at the beginning],” Prince continued. “We tried to open up some of those things in the passing game, but that just wasn’t [meant] to be. It just didn’t work out that way.”
Prince acknowledged the obvious in his post game comments. It wasn’t so much that Howard got beat, it was how they got beat that was troubling. The Bison didn’t get a wake up call to open the season and didn’t seem to have a plan B that could’ve stemmed the wave after it was clear their initial game plan wasn’t going to work.
At least there were no major injuries as Howard looks to pick up the pieces and play at Youngstown State. Despite this debacle, the MEAC Championship aspirations and their preseason goals are still in reach, for now.