After struggling mightily during its last three losses, Maryland football (5-3, 2-3 Big Ten) bounced back with a 38-35 victory against Indiana (2-6, 0-5 Big Ten) thanks to a lethal air attack. With the win, the Terps moved one game closer to bowl eligibility. Maryland has not been to a bowl game since 2016.

Here are five key numbers that played a pivotal role in the Terps’ second conference win of the season.

419

From the opening possession, junior quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa was in a rhythm navigating the pocket. On Maryland’s first two possessions, Tagovailoa displayed his confidence, recognizing mismatches and taking advantage of them, which led to big plays.

It was clear from the outset that Maryland wanted to attack vertically through the passing game, taking several deep shots. Overall, Tagovailoa finished 26-of-40 for a career-high 419 yards and two touchdowns.

That impressive performance marked Tagovailoa’s first career 400-yard passing game. It also was the first time a Maryland quarterback threw for 400 yards since Danny O’Brien did it on Nov. 27, 2010 against NC State.

Unable to generate success in the run game, the Terps leaned on Tagovailoa and the passing attack. The junior quarterback operated efficiently on third down, as Maryland converted 7 of 15 opportunities. The Terps had struggled on third down in recent weeks.

Without top receivers Dontay Demus and Jeshaun Jones, Tagovailoa spread the wealth around and connected with nine different receivers. As Maryland enters a grueling three-game stretch against ranked opponents, Tagovailoa will look to build on his success and efficiency through the air.

134

In the second half when Maryland’s offense needed a receiver to step up, senior Carlos Carriere did exactly that. He finished with eight receptions for 134 yards and a pair of second-half touchdowns, all career-highs. The 6-foot-5, 200-pound receiver took advantage of his opportunity against the Hoosiers, showing off his strength and elusiveness.

With Maryland trailing 17-14 in the third quarter, Carriere hauled in his first touchdown reception by outmuscling Indiana defensive back Raheem Layne. Carriere also alertly used his large frame to extend the ball across the goal line, putting the Terps back on top with 8:34 remaining in the third quarter.

However, the Georgia native was just starting to leave his imprint on Maryland’s aerial attack. On the ensuing possession, Carriere caught an intermediate route from Tagovailoa with only Layne between him and the end zone. Carriere leaned outside and swiftly cut back inside, leaving Layne in the dust for a 45-yard score. That touchdown pushed Maryland’s lead to 28-17, as Carriere stepped up massively to fill the void left by Demus and Jones.

25%

During the three-game losing skid, Maryland’s defense consistently struggled to get off the field on third down. The Terps responded against Indiana, holding the Hoosiers to 4-of-16 on third down. As a result, Indiana’s offense struggled to keep drives alive, particularly during the first half when true freshman quarterback Donaven McCulley struggled.

Defensive coordinator Brian Stewart dialed up a variety of looks, keeping the young quarterback confused on the third down. On several occasions, McCulley tried to use his legs for the first down, but Maryland’s front seven remained disciplined in its pursuit.

In past weeks, Maryland’s defense was plagued by missed tackles, allowing opponents to extend plays when short of the first down. The Terps improved significantly in their tackling against the Hoosiers, rallying to the football.

During the opening 30 minutes, Indiana faced plenty of third-and-long situations, allowing the Terps’ defensive linemen to pin their ears back and rush the quarterback. For Maryland to have success defensively moving forward, third-down defense remains essential.

10

Throughout the week leading up to the Indiana game, head coach Michael Locksley emphasized the importance of creating explosive plays offensively. Tagovailoa and Maryland’s offense delivered on their coach’s message with 10 pass plays of 15 or more yards.

Those passing plays accounted for 304 of Tagovailoa’s 419 yards. On those rare plays where the Terps attacked vertically and didn’t get a completion, the Hoosiers were called for pass interference penalties downfield.

In their last three losses, the Terps had combined for just 12 explosive plays and were unable to consistently move the ball through the air. Maryland played to the strengths of its offense against Indiana, employing an up-tempo style and allowing its playmakers to make plays down the field.

The most encouraging aspect of those big plays is that they came from five different players, both receivers and running backs. Sophomore Rakim Jarrett and freshman Marcus Fleming thrived in the middle of the field, finding creases in the Hoosiers’ zone coverage.

Moving forward, Tagovailoa and offensive coordinator Dan Enos will look to replicate the big-play production that fueled Maryland’s offense in the much-needed victory.

80%

While Maryland’s defense had its fair share of struggles during the three-game losing streak, the offense struggled to score touchdowns in the red zone. Saturday afternoon was a different story, as the Terps scored touchdowns on 4 of 5 red-zone possessions.

Three of those touchdowns came on the ground, with one from redshirt senior Tayon-Fleet Davis and two from senior Challen Faamatau. Although Maryland’s rushing offense struggled, the ground game was effective where it mattered most — near the goal line.

Instead of Tagovailoa lining up out of shotgun, the Terps put him over center in the I formation in goal-line situations. That had been a rarity for Maryland down the near goal line this season, often operating out of the shotgun in that area.

Beyond the formation change, Maryland’s offense eliminated detrimental penalties in the red area, an Achilles heel during the three-game losing streak. As a result, the Terps made it easier for themselves, keeping the down and distance manageable. The high red-zone efficiency is an encouraging sign moving forward as the Terps offense continues to evolve throughout the season.

Next week, Maryland hosts No. 20 Penn State at Maryland Stadium, looking for its second consecutive victory against the Nittany Lions.

Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox