Michael Lockley met with his assistant coaches Sunday after a chance to upset Ohio State slipped away in the fourth quarter and ended in Maryland’s first loss.
The Terps coach said he asked them all the same question to digest the defeat: “If you had one thing to take back from that game on Saturday, that you would do differently, what would it be?”
Each assistant coach had their own answer, as did the coach. Locksley’s regret was not kicking a field goal on fourth-and-1 in the first quarter, where he instead ran Billy Edwards Jr. and turned the ball over on downs.
There were plenty of mistakes like Locksley’s that cost Maryland chances at points Saturday — they lingered on the coach following the loss, he said Tuesday. As the Terps turn to Illinois, they’re absorbing the lessons from Saturday to address the shortcomings the loss exposed.
“This is really the first time we faced adversity,” Locksley said. “Coming out of a locker room where at the end of that game, the guys were low, in terms of they know that we had an opportunity and that we didn’t do our part.”
Even in wins, the coach has admitted to harping on minuscule errors rather than enjoying victories. It’s a personal fault he’s aimed to fix.
Now he has to grapple with a loss. For two days — through a plane ride home, Sunday’s meeting and Monday’s practice — the sting of defeat endured in Locksley’s head. To move forward, he remembered the joy of victory and will use what he learned from the loss to achieve that feeling again.
“I gotta enjoy winning more than I hate to lose,” Locksley said. “And if you do that, then it helps you get through what I’ve gone through the last 48 hours.”
The deficiencies Maryland needs to address ahead of more heavyweight Big Ten matchup in the coming weeks start along the offensive and defensive lines. The two units were rarely challenged against the outmatched foes Maryland cruised past in five comfortable wins.
Like the rest of the team, they failed their first test.
Taulia Tagovailoa’s elite ability to escape pressure masked a subpar offensive line through five weeks, but he couldn’t find a way around an overpowering Ohio State defensive front.
The quarterback was pressured on nearly one-third of his dropbacks, according to Pro Football Focus, and completed just two of his 11 passes on those plays. One of those attempts resulted in his second interception, which the Buckeyes capitalized on to take their first lead of the game.
Tagovailoa was sacked twice, the same amount he was in the first five games combined.
“We’re still a work in progress there,” Locksley said of his offensive line.
Maryland faced similar trouble defensively. Jordan Phillips, Quashon Fuller, Tommy Akingbesote and the rest of the defensive line weren’t overmatched, Locksley said. Rather, they struggled to maintain gap integrity against a sound opposing offense. The group held Ohio State rushers to 1.9 yards per carry but struggled to limit the Buckeyes on first down.
The Terps allowed 8.7 yards on first downs, plays that put the Ohio State offense in favorable situations. They were credited with three sacks on Kyle McCord in the first half but never got to him in the second as he picked apart the Terps depleted secondary without starting cornerback Tarheeb Still.
“The first thing that goes through my mind when adversity hits is ‘What could I have done to prevent it from happening?’” Phillips said. “From the time that we got on the plane and came back to College Park … it [lingered] a little bit.”
Despite the holes Ohio State revealed, the Terps seem comfortable with where they are halfway through the year. Locksley said before the season Maryland was ready to compete for the Big Ten championship. Tagovailoa said anything short of a conference title is a failure.
Those ambitions took a hit Saturday, but the Terps remain encouraged with their start.
“If anybody took a poll to say you get to be 5-1 at the midpoint of the season, you get to take it or leave it,” Locksley said. “I’d say that a lot of us would take it.”