No. 12 Penn State seeks another win in series with Maryland
(AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)
By DAVID GINSBURG
AP Sports Writer
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) Maryland first-year coach Mike Locksley has no desire to look into the past before leading the Terrapins into Friday night's matchup with No. 12 Penn State.
And with good reason - It's been all Penn State.
But Locksley insists recent results in the terribly lopsided Penn State-Maryland series will have no bearing on what happens before a rare sellout crowd in College Park for the Big Ten opener.
Nittany Lions coach James Franklin agrees with the assessment.
Although unbeaten Penn State is 39-2-1 against Maryland - including 66-3 and 38-3 blowouts the last two years - Franklin is wary of a rejuvenated team that won its first two games at home by a combined 122 points.
"Obviously we've got a lot of respect for what they have been able to do so far there in that program," Franklin said. "Always felt like that program had a lot of talent and I think Mike is doing a good job taking advantage of it."
Locksley waved off the last two installments of this so-called rivalry because he wasn't on the sideline. DJ Durkin absorbed the first bashing, and interim coach Matt Canada was the recipient of last year's rout.
"As far as comparisons, I don't know about the last two years, what they've done or what we've done on offense against them," Locksley said. "We rarely worry about our opponent as much as we do about our execution. I think we'll stick to that script."
Both teams are coming off a bye. Penn State (3-0) squeezed past Pittsburgh 17-10 and the Terps (2-1) fell out of the Top 25 with a defeat at Temple after walloping Howard 79-0 and then-No. 21 Syracuse 63-20.
Some other things to know about this Big Ten East clash:
Franklin spent eight years on the Maryland coaching staff from 2000-04 and 2008-10, overlapping with Locksley for three years at the outset of that first stint. Franklin coached the wide receivers and Locksley was in charge of the running backs.
"Obviously a program that we have some history with, and I specifically have some history with," Franklin said. "Go back a long time with Coach Locksley."
Locksley said, "We've maintained a relationship over the years. We both are guys that grew up in this program here."
Maryland's last win against Penn State came in 2014, when Locksley was the Terrapins' offensive coordinator under Randy Edsall and Franklin was in his first season after replacing Bill O'Brien.
GETTING BETTER, NOT THERE YET
The Nittany Lions have showed flashes of brilliance this season, but Franklin concedes this is a work in progress.
"There's a lot of areas for growth," he said. "You know, for us, we found a way to win. Obviously we've got to be more consistent in all three phases."
Including quarterback. The departure of Trace McSorley, now a backup on the Baltimore Ravens, has put sophomore Sean Clifford at the helm. Clifford was solid in wins over Idaho and Buffalo but went 14 for 30 for 222 yards against Pittsburgh.
BACK TO EARTH
Virginia Tech transfer Josh Jackson struggled at quarterback against Temple. After throwing seven touchdown passes in his first two games with the Terrapins, Jackson went 15 for 38 for 183 yards with one score and one interception.
"It was not a very good game on my side. It was probably one of my worst games in college," Jackson said. "We'll leave that as an outlier and hopefully it stays like that."
RUNNING BACK SHUFFLE
Penn State has been alternating running backs thus far as Franklin looks for one to distinguish himself as the go-to guy.
Journey Brown took charge against Pittsburgh with 109 yards, but nothing's settled yet.
Maryland leans heavily on Anthony McFarland, but the backups have been used liberally. One of them, Jake Funk, is no longer an option after a torn ACL ended his season.
FRIDGE IS BACK
Former Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen will be honored during the game and will serve as the Terps' honorary game captain.
"To be able to bring him back and honor him in the right way, I know I'm excited as well as our team and our fans," Locksley said.
Maryland went 10-2 and won the Atlantic Coast Conference title in 2001, Friedgen's first season. His last team, in 2010, went 9-4. He finished with a 75-50 record at Maryland.
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Updated September 26, 2019