LANDOVER, MD — On the first offensive play of their 2018 college football season, the Maryland Terrapins football team lined up with only 10 men on the field, doing so as part of honoring former offensive lineman Jordan McNair, who passed away in June from heatstroke after collapsing on the practice field following an offseason workout. (Maryland’s opponent today, Texas, subsequently declined the penalty.) Before the start of the game, there was a moment of silence in acknowledging McNair’s passing and every Terrapin helmet had a “79” decal, the number that McNair wore.
Maryland’s gestures on the field of FedExField are the very least it could do to right the inexcusable wrongs committed by the team’s coaching and training staff in mishandling McNair’s emergency, Though steps have been made in the right direction towards making amends – the school accepted “legal and moral responsibility” for the incident, put head coach DJ Durkin on administrative leave and had strength and conditioning coach Rick Court resign – the Terrapins football team will be playing the rest of the season with the shame over their heads for failing the parents of a young man that surely was promised a quality education in an environment where safety on the football field was high priority.
As the school-led investigation continues, and as more consequences possibly come afterward, we believe no one reading about the University of Maryland football team this season should only consume news about whether the team wins or loses, or what strategy its coaches employed during the game. A number of the coaches were present in overseeing what turned out to be a deadly culture that focused on a wicked perception of toughness, and every player will have to live with the fact that one of their on-field brothers passed away at the hands of the same men who went into their living rooms as high schoolers to recruit them to College Park
Rest in peace, Jordan McNair.
True freshman wide receiver Jeshaun Jones seems to already have the game of college football figured out, putting on one of the most memorable on-field performances by any player in school history – and doing so against a blue blood of the sport, no less.
It is safe to say that Jones did everything in Maryland’s 34-29 victory over the No. 23 Texas Longhorns on Saturday afternoon, as he ran for, caught, and threw for a touchdown pass as part of his 121 total yards on offense in the afternoon. His efficiency was not bad as well, as Maryland scored touchdowns on three of the four times Jones touched the ball in the afternoon.
Jones’ first touch came on a handoff on a jet sweep that he took 28 yards to open the scoring in the game. One possession later, and with the game tied, Jones caught a third-down pass from Kasim Hill for a 65-yard score and a 14-7 Maryland lead. And for good measure, Jones’ carry on a jet sweep turned into a pass, as he lofted a ball into the right corner of the end zone that was caught on a dive by Taivon Jacobs from 20 yards.
“I don’t think we saw anything [specific in Texas’ defense],” said Terrapins interim head coach Matt Canada. “We ran our plays. We took our shots.”
Texas only highlight of the first quarter came on a spectacular 39-yard diving touchdown catch from wide receiver Devin Duvernay that tied the game at 7-7. Outside of that pass, the Longhorns gained 10 yards on offense in the first stanza.
Once down 17 points, Texas’s offense woke up, cutting Maryland’s 17-point lead down to two right before the half on the strength of Keontay Ingram 5-yard touchdown run, a safety, and a touchdown pass of 22 yards from quarterback Sam Ehlinger to receiver Collin Johnson.
Texas took its only lead of the game late in the third quarter on a 2-yard touchdown run from Kyle Porter, but the Terrapins responded with an 11-play, 75-yard drive that was capped off by a 17-yard Tayon Fleet-Davis touchdown run. Following the drive, the game ended up being delayed for 86 minutes due to the threat of lightning and heavy rain.
After the delay, Texas turned over the ball three times, allowing Maryland to seal a season-opening victory over the Longhorns for a second consecutive year.
“We have a lot to learn about how we have to go out after a rain delay and finish,” Texas head coach Tom Herman said.
Similarities will be made to last year’s start to the season, a campaign that ended 7-6 and left the always-demanding Longhorn faithful wanting much more heading into 2018.
“It was a really weird game,” Herman said. “Hats off to [Maryland]. They did a really good job. A lot of people are going to say it feels a lot like last year. It doesn’t to me.”
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Saturday’s game, with all photos taken by DC-Area photographer Yusuf Abdullah. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are currently 5 pictures in total.