If you only win two games the previous season, any win is a great win. On paper Saturday’s win over Florida International was not a game in which you begin to think, I should clear my schedule for a possible bowl trip in December. However, last season, games like this would wind up slipping away and becoming a loss. That being said, if yesterday’s opponent had a more accurate quarterback it too could have been a loss. Luckily for Maryland it wasn’t and believe it or not, after four games they are half way to Bowl Eligibility, a goal I think any Terp fan will gladly take.
There were some good things to come out of the win, and some bad things. Let’s start with the bad. I think all of us knew there was going to be a quarterback controversy. Whether the coaches say there is or isn’t yesterday’s performance by Danny O’Brien certainly added some fuel to the fire. I am going to take everyone on the coaching staffs word that Jamarr Robinson does indeed have an injured shoulder, and O’Brien started because of it. In all honesty, it was probably the perfect game for O’Brien to get his first start, but still, if you are going to take the coaches word, Jamarr was the best QB on the team all spring and summer. Now, I am not sure how this is going to work out.
The running game, though effective in the end, still is a problem. On the day they racked up 190 yards. The problem is they gained 132 of those yards on two carries. If the Terps are going to keep O’Brien alive, and the defense off the field, they are going to have to establish a stronger running attack. In fact if you look at the two scoring “drives” against WVU, and four of the drives yesterday were on plays of greater than 50 yards. Sure you never want to complain about scoring, but the offense needs a running attack to eat clock and prolong drives to give the defense a breather. Coach Friedgen mentioned a couple times yesterday how tired the defense was, and though the scores were important, so was eating up some clock.
I could probably find more areas of concern, but the last one I want to touch on was the defense. Had Wesley Carroll been a more accurate passer, he would have torched the Maryland defense. There were open players that he continuously over threw all day. Cameron Chism made a couple of mistakes early, but played well in the second half. I see signs of improvement, but there is still a long way to go.
Now, that I have some of the obvious problems discussed, this was after all a win, so they must have done something well. First of all Tony Logan has become a serious threat on punt returns. He had 6 punt returns for 135 yards including the 85 yard TD. He is currently leading the nation with 326 punt return yards and is first in yards per return at 25.2. Special teams is one area, where I feel comfortable.
Torrey Smith is playing great. Sure he has all the big plays, but what really stands out for me is the number of touches he got yesterday. Though he had one big play of 68 yards, he still had 7 other catches. I don’t know if it is the coaching staff or Smith himself, but it always boggled my mind that we couldn’t get the ball to Darius Heyward-Bey more often. With Smith, they are getting him the ball, and giving him the chance to make plays. Something we all are more than happy to see.
Finally, I do have something good to speak about on the defensive side of the ball. Take aways. They are plus six on the season in turnover ratio. I guess it has something to say about the offense as well, but it starts with the defense. They have forced 5 interceptions already, and it is something positive to build on.
With a home game vs Duke looming, this is another huge game this week. I was going to mention the lack of crowd support as one of the problems, but we are going to save that for another day. If you are a fan of Maryland Football, get yourself out there this Saturday night. Getting a fourth win against Duke, is of utmost importance when you look at the schedule after the Blue Devils. A fourth win in the first week of October is a long way from a 2-10 season, but the Terps are long way from being the team they need to be a serious threat in the Atlantic Division.