- - Tuesday, September 3, 2019

COLLEGE PARK — Maryland won by 79 points in its first game Saturday, but that doesn’t mean new coach Mike Locksley couldn’t find some teachable moments.

“We also saw quite a few things we can do to improve mentally, and fundamentally,” Locksley said Tuesday.

That may seem hard to believe after a 79-0 thrashing of visiting Howard.

Now the Terrapins face what should be a much stiffer test in the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Syracuse, after the No. 22 Orange opened their season with a 24-0 victory at Liberty.

Maryland, a founding member of the ACC now in the Big Ten, hosts the nonconference game Saturday at noon.

In his first season as head coach, Locksley said he tries to keep his focus on his team, no matter the opponent.

“This is a really good team coming in here,” Locksley said. “You treat good wins like you treat good losses. We are more about the process of how we practice.”

Maryland linebacker Shaq Smith is familiar with Syracuse after having transferred from Clemson and played against the Orange. The Terrapins held Howard to 68 yards on 57 plays, but Smith knows Syracuse is an entirely different animal.

“There is always room for improvement,” Smith said. “I would say the number one thing, on defense, we have to improve on is communicating more.”

Led by transfer quarterback Josh Jackson from Virginia Tech, the Maryland offense will have a tough task against a Syracuse defense that includes senior defensive linemen Kendall Coleman and Alton Robinson. The Orange held Liberty to minus-four yards rushing on 34 attempts.

“What a great challenge,” Locksley said. “They are really strong in their special teams as well. We expect this to be a very hard, rough game. Any time you get a shutout that is a huge thing.”

Jackson threw for 245 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions against Howard.

“He started off a little slow,” Locksley said. “He missed some throws early.”

It will be the second home game under Locksley, who grew up in Washington and was a former assistant for two stints before he got the head job prior to this season.

Maryland backup quarterback Donny Sanders was a tight end at Syracuse in 2017 before transferring.

Syracuse has several players from the District, including defensive back DuWayne Johnson, wideout Ed Hendrix, defensive back Aman Greenwood, linebacker Juan Wallace, wideout Nykeim Johnson, defensive lineman Caleb Okechukwu. Running back Abdul Adams is from Landover, while offensive lineman Dakota Davis is from Mount Airy.

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