Maryland vs Rutgers: Big Ten football basement dwellers
(AP Photo/Will Newton, File)
By MATT SUGAM
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) Maryland and Rutgers have much in common. The two newest members of the Big Ten suffered embarrassing shutouts to Top 25 conference teams in their last games, putting them either near or in the basement in the league standings.
Maryland (2-2, 0-1) will travel to SHI Stadium on Saturday to face a changed Rutgers (1-3, 0-2), which fired coach Chris Ash last weekend after he posted eight wins in three-plus seasons.
Scarlet Knights interim coach Nunzio Campanile is changing quarterbacks for the upcoming game.
Johnny Langan, who played for Campanile at Bergen Catholic in New Jersey, will get his first college start. Sophomore quarterback Art Sitkowski asked not to play this week so he could contemplate a redshirt season.
Maryland, which opened the season with big wins over Howard and Syracuse, lost to Temple 20-17. Then the Terps were routed 59-0 by No. 12 Penn State.
"Those are all part of the growing pains of managing success but also being able to come back from adversity and that's my job to coach and be a leader to make sure that our guys understand that we are able to do both of those things," Maryland's first-year coach Mike Locksley said.
After beating Massachusetts in its opener, Rutgers has lost to now-No. 14 Iowa 30-0 and Boston College 30-16. Ash's final game was a 52-0 loss to now No. 19 Michigan.
"As I told the kids (Sunday), everybody in the room, including me, is here because of Chris," Campanile said of Ash. "Obviously, we all have relationships with him. So that's a big part of it. We have eight games to go and we have a lot of great opportunities in front of us."
Langan will be the third quarterback for Rutgers. Graduate transfer McLane Carter opened the season and has been sidelined by a concussion in the Iowa game. Sitkowski, who lost his job to Carter in training camp, started the last two.
Langan led Bergen Catholic to its first state championship in more than a decade in 2017. The redshirt freshman joined the program in the spring after transferring from Boston College. The NCAA ruled him eligible for the season.
"I equate this game a lot to playing the opening game where you don't necessarily know what you're going to get," Locksley said. "You anticipate some things, I mean obviously there are very few things you can't just wholesale change and go from a pro-style system to run a wishbone. At least I don't think you can within a three-day period. So, the expectation is that they'll be similar to what they are."
In 2014, the Big Ten added Maryland (from the ACC) and Rutgers (from the Big East). Members of the Big Ten East, the two have played each year, with the Terrapins holding a 3-2 advantage in conference play and 8-6 overall.
The 42-year-old Campanile is relatively new to college coaching. He came to Rutgers as Ash's running backs coach in February 2018 after making Bergen Catholic a New Jersey parochial football power from 2010-2017. Before that, he was the athletic director and offensive coordinator at rival Don Bosco Prep, helping build the school into a national football power, coaching future Rutgers quarterbacks Mike Teel and Gary Nova.
The NCAA has a four-game limit in determining a redshirt season. Once a player appears in a fourth game, he can no longer redshirt the season. That's why Sitkowski asked not to play. The sophomore completed 64.7% of passes for 439 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions this season.
Rutgers' offensive line has been inconsistent. Maryland's pass rush has 13 sacks through four games, 17th in the country. Linebacker Keandre Jones leads the Terps with 3 1/2 sacks, third in the Big Ten.
Maryland senior defensive back Antoine Brooks Jr. has 28 solo tackles, the most per game in the Big Ten and the fifth highest total nationally. He tallied a career-best 13 tackles, all solo, at Temple.
"Antoine is one of those high energy guys, he'll make some mistakes here and there and take bad angles, but he makes up for it with his effort," Locksley said. "He's the leader over there on that side of the ball."
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Updated October 4, 2019