Let me be the first to say, I was right there with most of the Football fan base. In my mind, Maryland was going to lose,and by a lot. While it is still a loss, there are some positives to take from yesterdays game with West Virginia. When your two deep has 12 true freshman in it, you have to expect to have some mistakes, and yesterday, that was the difference in the game.
If you look at the overall numbers, the game was pretty close, and to be honest the score was pretty close as well. At the final whistle the scoreboard read 31-21. And it really wasn’t one of those games where the final score makes it seem closer than it really was. It was actually opposite. I felt the game was really closer than the final score indicated.
When Perry Hills was hit on the play action pass, and WVU scooped and scored, you could kind of see the writing on the wall. The odds makers in Vegas looked like they would be right on. Then Tavon Austin got his first TD and suddenly the Terps were down 14-0 in a hostile environment. I figured it was about to go from bad to worse, to doomsday.
However, this team showed me a lot (thanks mostly to the playmaking ability of Stefon Diggs). There have been better Maryland teams that went into WVU, got down early, and folded like a house of cards. These guys made it respectable. The difference was truly the mistakes.
Diggs showed that those who dish out those little stars next to their names in the recruiting listings, were spot on. He is explosive, elusive, and ready for the big stage. Now if we can figure out a way to get him the ball more.
Marcus Leak also is going to be very good. You hate to point out to many negatives, but the false start on the 3rd down conversion was an absolute killer. Throw in the drop and it was a tough couple of plays for him. Still, he and Diggs are going to be formidable pair of receivers for ACC foes to contend with moving forward. The duo combined for 8 catches, 182 yards, and 3 TD’s. Nothing to sneeze at there.
Now, you can say that WVU’s defense is not what helped them to that #8 ranking. So far against the likes of Marshall, James Madison and Maryland, they are the 74th ranked defense in terms of yards allowed. The last time I looked, the teams in the Big 12 are going to be a little better offensively than the three teams above. So if they have visions of a BCS bowl in their future the defense needs to step it up for them a bit. I truly believed, the UConn defense was better against Maryland. So take some of that offensive production with a grain of salt. They are going to face some better defenses.
You have to give the Maryland defense a lot of credit. You also, have to give them a lot of the blame (how do you like that in depth analysis?). They kept the game close. When the offense put them in a tough spot, they made some big plays. The likes of Joe Vellano, A.J. Francis and Demitrius Hartsfield got some pressure on Geno Smith. The defense made him look like a good quarterback instead of a leading candidate for the Heisman. They also allowed some plays that are just inexcusable. Tavon Austin WIDE open in the end zone, anyone ever hear of this guy, he was #1 incase you were wondering secondary. Now I think Jeremiah Johnson was expecting some safety help, but still. You need to watch the guy.
The scheme left me scratching my head a little as it seemed to my amateur eye, that Tavon Austin was often being matched up with a linebacker. Not sure if he was just getting by the corner and found himself in a soft spot of a zone where it was the linebackers responsibility, or if it was what I consider a coach firing offense, by design. That may be a question that gets answered in the media this week. Overall, minus a few big plays by the guy you knew would make some plays, they played about as well as could be expected, if not better than expected.
One last final complaint about the coaching staff. Why with two timeouts before the half did Randy Edsall not take a timeout? We could have saved maybe a second, ran a play to center the ball in the field, and let Craddock have a shot at it from the center of the field. Instead we spike it, line up from the hash, and missed the kick. Those three points were looming large for most of the second half. Look, maybe I am a dummy and Craddock kicks better from the hash in practice, and I should just believe the coach really knows what he’s doing. Maybe, he really doesn’t. Only time will tell, but the last two games have left some concern for me in terms of clock management.
At the end of the day a loss is a loss. At the beginning of the season I was looking for improvement from week to week. And if there are any Terp fans out there that don’t believe the team played well, made some steps forward, and give a us some hope going forward, they are missing out. Sure, there is a laundry list of things to work on like, blitz recognition and pickup, but I am feeling a little more optimistic than I did about this time in August when we learned that C.J. Brown was going to be out for the season.
With a bye week on the schedule, it gives the Terps plenty of time to work on some things, have any players nicked up get some rest and be ready for what is likely going to be a noon game at Byrd in two weeks. Oh, speaking of nicked up. I hope Kenny Tate is truly healthy. As soon as he was in there, he was in the middle of a few really big stops defensively. Here’s to hoping he will be 100% in two weeks.