Given the amount of bad fortune that has happened to Maryland, Terrapin fans can be quite content with the results thus far, especially since their schedule was deemed the second toughest schedule in the CFL. However, for Maryland it may just get tougher as they enter the game Saturday with a huge question mark at quarterback. Sophomore quarterback Max Bortenschlager went down with an injury in the 3rd quarter of last week’s match, which introduced Maryland fans to their fourth quarterback of the season, Junior Caleb Henderson. Coach DJ Durkin declared on Thursday that the quarterback starter will be a game time decision. Fortunately for the Terps, they have other weapons in their arsenal with Junior wide receiver DJ Moore and Junior Running Back Ty Johnson. Moore is pursuing a record breaking season as he’s currently tied in the Big Ten in touchdown catches (5) and ranks second in reception yards (414), and receptions per game (6.4).
Wildcat’s senior, safety Godwin Igwebuike will have his hands full with Moore down the field. Johnson adds to the threat in the air with a one-two punch on the ground. Johnson was named Big Ten Specialist of the Week after racking up a career high of 246 all-purpose yards against the Ohio State. Johnson leads the conference with 8.2 rushing yards per carry, and will be a vital asset to getting on the scoreboard Saturday evening. Maryland only recorded 66 yards of total offense last game, which records as the fewest in a game for Maryland since 1996.
Northwestern’s offense hasn’t been as fortunate either in some aspects. “Our offense has to stop shooting themselves in the foot” said Wildcat’s wide receiver Flynn Nagel after a 31-7 loss to Penn State last weekend. Coach Pat Fitzgerald attributes their lackluster offense to a lack of consistency and playing at a slower tempo. Northwestern’s offensive line has allowed 19 sack this season which ranks them with the most in the Big Ten. Nonetheless, Northwestern is not a team to be underestimated by Maryland. Coach Fitzgerald was quoted, “Justin Jackson [had] maybe his best performance of the year [last game]” Jackson leads Northwestern with 339 yards on 80 carries through five games and is 18 yards shy of hitting the program record of 4,485 career rushing yards. Junior quarterback Clayton Thorson struggled last game with 23 for 43 in completions, and two interceptions, but is still climbing the charts to pass Trevor Siemian (550) for fourth in program history, while being just eight shy of breaking Northwestern’s program record.
Northwestern’s star players have definitely come from their secondary. Captain, Tyler Lancaster leads the defensive line alongside a pretty impenetrable defense. Off the edge, sophomore defensive end Joe Gaziano will enter the game Saturday with 7.5 career sacks and is just 4.5 sacks shy of entering into Northwestern’s top-10 list. The consistency with the defensive line will be imperative to stopping the Terp’s bull runner, Johnson.
By the numbers, neither team has a tremendous advantage over the other. The big questions: Who will be Maryland’s starting quarterback and will Northwestern’s offense crack under pressure? Tune in this Saturday at 3:30 pm on ESPN2.