Passing game must improve against Terps

Temple slot receiver Jalen Fitzpatrick has the ability to make plays in space. (File photo)

Temple vs. Maryland keys to the game

Talk about teams on different paths.

Once ranked among the nation’s worst programs, Temple looks to open the season 2-0 for the third consecutive year. Meanwhile, Maryland’s last victory against a Football Bowl Subdivision member came against shorthanded Miami at the start of last season.

The Terrapins (1-0) will look to snap their 10-game skid to FBS opponents on Saturday against the Owls (1-0) at Lincoln Financial Field. But Temple wants to show that last season’s 38-7 victory wasn’t just a result of being taken lightly.

 Here are a few keys to the game.

For Temple:

1.      Utilize its passing game.  Last week’s 301 rushing yards against Villanova proved that Temple can run the ball. But the Owls must occasionally pass on early downs to keep Maryland from loading the box.

2.      Pressure Perry Hills. The true freshman quarterback is coming off a three-interception outing. Hills’ The Owls need to apply relentless pressure, make things uncomfortable in the pocket and force him to make quick decisions.

3.      Dominate special teams.  Temple won the special teams' battle last week against Villanova. Matt Brown had a combined 125 yards on punt and kickoff returns. Temple needs to come up with a big special teams moment to set the stage and ignite the team.

For Maryland:

1.      Get Stefon Diggs involved. The true freshman was known for producing big plays as a wideout and punt returner in high school. He displayed his playmaking ability last week with three punt returns for 50 yards and three receptions for 30 yards. The Terps must find a way to get him involved.

2.      Keep an eye on Jalen Fitzpatrick. Like Diggs, the Temple slot receiver has the ability to make plays in space. The Terps better keep someone on him at all times and make one of the Owls’ outside receivers beat them.

3.      Force turnovers.  Playing without several injured defensive starters, Maryland could have a tough time if Temple’s offense gets going. The Terps need to force fumbles and/or intercept passes to get the Owls off the field. It could also give Maryland’s offense a boost.