Maryland football has a chance to start its campaign 3-0 for the second time since 2016 on Saturday when the Terps host SMU at College Park. The Terps showed positive notes on both sides of the ball and will look to put together an all-around effort against a sneakily strong SMU team that came out of the gates blazing in 2022.
SMU is led by the first-year head coach Rhett Lashlee and it has a roster made up of 50 new faces between the recruitment and the transfer portal that have given the Mustangs a strong reset. Twenty-one players on this year’s list transferred from Power Five institutions. The game will start Maryland is a three-point favorite and the total is set at 72 points.
“We’re very fortunate, facing a team like this in Game 3 is much easier to face a team like this in Game 1 with the preparation,” Locksley said. “But I hope they are good coaches there. So they’re a team that will explore themselves and see what they show on tape and then try to disguise, not necessarily change what they do… I hope they’re very self-aware of what they’ve shown on tape. Try to explore yourself and maybe offer some things that we haven’t seen them do, but our systems and how we set up should allow us to make adjustments without problems and it’s going to be a good game.”
The Terps will be left without a corner tarheeb still while recovering from surgery to repair a tendon in his finger, but will welcome back the sophomore cornerback Corey Coley Jr. to the crease as added depth in the position.
ESPN’s Football Power Index gives Maryland a 71% chance of winning this game during the preseason, which dropped to 51% after Buffalo’s win and was back up to 67.3% before Saturday. The Terps are listed as favorites with a difference of three points with a total of 73 points between both teams in most sportsbooks.
Maryland and SMU are scheduled to kick off at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. on FS1.
SMU Mustangs (2-0)
2021 record: (8-3, 4-4 America)
Coach: Rhett Lashlee (First Station)
Players to watch: attacking player mordecai tanner (SR), wide receiver Rashee Rice (SR), linebacker Jimmy Phillips Jr. (SR)
Strength: Ventilate it… There’s no secret to the Mustangs’ offensive system in 2022; They’re here to shoot through the air and they’re not afraid to keep trying. senior quarterback mordecai tanner He threw for 3,628 yards and 39 touchdowns last season and has continued that success in his senior season by completing 41 of 63 passes for 644 yards with seven touchdowns and just one interception. senior catcher Rashee Rice he is by far the best receiver to watch, having put up 17 receptions for 298 yards and three touchdowns in the team’s first two games this season.
“I think the most important thing with [Rice] it’s that they attack him a lot,” Locksley said. “He gets a ton of his targets and touches and they’re going to take shots down the field. It’s probably the best kind of vertical threat we’re facing this year. Big, he can run and they’re not afraid to put him up and give him 50/50 balls where he comes up and has a chance to make plays. So the challenge for us is going to be what appeared early in the first game… just not panicking when the ball is in the air. I feel comfortable because we have enough speed to run and be in a great position, but now it’s breaking the ball 50/50 and playing through the ball and not through the man that we take penalties.”
Weakness: Hasty Defense… While both teams have had fairly similar starts to the season defensively, albeit against easier competition, Maryland has shown its ability to stop the run while SMU allows for a more balanced offense. The Mustangs allow just 184 yards per game in the air, but an additional 153 yards per game on the ground. For the Terps, any ability to create an advantage in the running game could be the difference, as these two offenses will go shot for shot in the passing game.