- The Washington Times - Monday, September 23, 2019

COLLEGE PARK — The concourse above the west end zone at Maryland Stadium received a temporary expansion: bleachers, auxiliary seating for a student body that suddenly found interest in football again.

Of course, most of the Terrapins’ ticket sales boom occurred after they thumped Syracuse 63-20 on Sept. 7, but before they lost to Temple on the road on Sept. 14 and fell out of the Top 25 a week after entering it.

Maryland opens its Big Ten schedule Friday night by hosting No. 12 Penn State. The Terrapins expect a packed stadium that could help coach Mike Locksley and his team pull off an upset to get back on track after the Temple loss.

Locksley expressed faith in starting quarterback Josh Jackson after his shaky performance two weeks ago, and said Jackson has turned in good practices and worked with offensive coordinator Scottie Montgomery on areas to improve.

“I take it back to having the right kind of eye discipline as a quarterback in the RPO game,” Locksley said at his weekly press conference Monday. “We went back and looked at the tape … I think that that’s kind of an outlier game for Josh. He’s a guy that really has made really good choices and been really disciplined.

Jackson — who went 15-for-38 passing for 183 yards, one touchdown and one interception — liked the word Locksley chose.

“Yeah, I’d definitely like to chalk that up as an outlier,” Jackson said. “It was not a very good game on my side. Probably one of my worst games in college. So yeah, we’ll leave that as an outlier and hopefully it stays like that.”

Jackson said he has to do better seeing the field, something he doesn’t normally struggle with. The offense also focused on red-zone situations after coming up crucially short in that area against Temple.

The Terrapins will need a strong game from Jackson to beat the Nittany Lions, who are undefeated through three games. Or maybe not.

After all, Maryland ranks eighth in FBS football in rushing offense with 277.3 yards per game along with 12 touchdowns, thanks to running backs Anthony McFarland Jr., Javon Leake and Tayon Fleet-Davis.

“I could care less if I’m in a rhythm,” Jackson said. “If we’re just running the ball and Ant and Fleet and Leake are all in a rhythm, I don’t think it matters too much for me if they’re just taking care of it.”

That wasn’t a sign of disinterest from Jackson. A few seconds later, he admitted, “I guess as (Locksley) was saying, I’m pretty laid back.”

Indeed, the coach had just finished noting how cool-headed Jackson usually remains, not allowing highs or lows to affect him.

“In my experience, I like that quarterback that feeds and has the energy,” Locksley said, but added, “Josh has got to play to his personality, just like as a coach, I’ve got to coach to my personality. But we both kind of have a happy medium there.”

Even as the program anticipates a big crowd on Friday, Locksley tried to downplay its effect on the team. He said the Terrapins “insulate” themselves from campus and control what they can control.

“It’s great to hear we’ll hopefully have the type of crowd that our players deserve to have,” Locksley said. “I know our fans are excited about this game, but for us, all of our focus is on being the best version of Maryland football that we can be come Friday.”

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