Before I get into the game, I would personally like to thank the folks at Comcast Sports Net Mid Atlantic for having me miss the most productive quarter of Maryland football in years. The killer was I simply thought, oh they will have this on the CSN + station they had midnight madness on the other night. I switched over to see some kind of show they will have on 30 more times in the next month. Stunned. Finally I was able to find the feed on a college football radio app on my iPhone, but it was long after a lot of the damage was done. Anyway what is the point of having CSN+ if you are not going to use it in a situation where there is a conflict between a game that carries TWO local teams? Oh well, just wanted to get that off my chest. Seemed like a logical solution that was not utilized.
Well, for one week anyway, the Terps look like a team on the rise. Of course it is hard to get super excited because the win came against a team that is in a complete tailspin. Not only are they in the midst of playing revolving quarterbacks, they are changing kickers on the fly. Sure the Terps won, and on the road at that, but there is a lot to work on if they are truly going to get to that magical 6th win.
Taking a look at the stats, you wonder how Maryland was able to win the game. The one that stands out the most, Perry Hills was the leading rusher, with 7 carries for 7 yards! That’s right 7 yards! As a team 29 carries for MINUS 2. How many teams have won a game with a negative rushing total. If only I had access to someone at the Elias Sports Bureau. Now, we all know the line is young, and yesterday injuries took it’s toll. Sal Conaboy and Bennett Fulper were lost during the game and the line got even younger. But still, negative yardage?
So how did they win? You can almost 100% say that without Stefon Diggs the Terps lose this game. Now, thanks to ESPN3, I went back and watched the 1st quarter last night before going out for the evening. Diggs’ opening kickoff return was unbelievable to me. Not so much that he returned it, not so much that it was from way deep in the end zone. What amazed me was as he got to about the 3 yard line, he was basically stopped, his blockers didn’t look like knew what to do, and he just made a couple of moves and was gone. It was just one of those plays that only a handful of players could make.
After the Terps turned an interception into another TD, the next three points can be accredited to Diggs. He caught a short pass, went left, where it looks like he was going to be stopped, turned back to the right, and picked up 60 yards to eventually set up a FG. I have never been one to believe that one player out of 22 can truly make a difference, but Diggs is doing it. His big plays have been the difference between losses and wins on more than one occasion this season.
From that point on, things kind of went stagnant for the Terps. The big play being the third down drop by Matt Furstenburg inside the redzone. Catch it and you have 7 points easy. This of course leads to a FG attempt that is missed. With a 17-3 lead and a little over 9 minutes to go in the 3rd, for the first time I thought that could be a play that turn things in UVA’s favor. Before you know it, that was the case. UVA scored the next 10 to make it 17-13. I was expecting a total collapse, but at the end the defense stepped up.
I am amazed at how well this defense has done for the most part. Sure there have been some blown coverages that have lead to big plays, but for the most part, they have stepped up when they have needed to, and yesterday was the same scenario.
Again, this was not a pretty win. However, after last season, I think we can all say that any win is a great win. Having already doubled last seasons win total is pretty amazing. After losing CJ Brown, I will admit, I was truly worried they might only win 1 or 2 this year. Somehow, this team keeps fighting and getting it done when they have to. Despite my feelings for Edsall, and some of his clock management, these guys are playing for him. And that is truly all you can ask for. Maybe last season was full of a bunch of bad apples, and these guys have bought in to him and his system. Maybe it is the two new coordinators. Whatever it is, it is a pleasant surprise. One that I hope ends with a trip to a southern location in December, even if that location is only 8 miles south or accessible by Metro. I think that would be a great accomplishment, and something they could really use in the recruiting pitch!
Can a team continue to win relying on a defense, and couple of huge plays from quite possibly the most electric player Maryland football has and possibly will ever see? That remains to be seen. The competition will get tougher from here on out. To this point the combined record for Maryland’s wins over 1-A teams is 8-13. The combined record for those remaining on the schedule: 22-15 (take away BC’s 1-5 record and it is considerably tougher). For those Terp fans hoping to go bowling, these next three games are where you better pin your hopes. NC State, BC, and Georgia Tech provide the best opportunity to get two wins. At Clemson, FSU at home, UNC doesn’t rest well in my mind.
That brings us up to homecoming against NC State. Look, regardless of how you feel about the coach, administration, or anything to do with Maryland Football. I implore you to get in Byrd to see Diggs. Words can not begin to show you how special he is. Every time he touches the ball, there is an immediate change in electricity inside the stadium. You have to see him in person, and this weekend would be a great time to do it!