Maryland hosted the Mountaineers of West Virginia Saturday afternoon at Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium. The Terps entered Saturday’s contest 2-0, hoping to extend their undefeated season before Big Ten conference play begins later this month.
The Mountaineers came in at 1-1, with their one loss being a mere 10 point defeat at the hands of the Alabama Crimson Tide. After turning the ball over an astronomical six times last week at South Florida, it was time for the Terps to protect the ball and prove to the country they are a force to be reckoned with after beating up on weak teams the first two weeks.
However, that’s not exactly how things went down. After falling behind by as many as 22 points in the 2nd quarter, Maryland fell short as a last second Josh Lambert field goal pushed the Mountaineers to a 40-37 victory. Here are my five takeaways from Saturday’s showdown between West Virginia and Maryland:
Terps Defense. I’m just going to assume they were all sick and a random intramural squad was chosen as its replacement. This was easily one of the worst defensive performances I have ever witnessed. The tackling and pass coverage was atrocious, worse than my brother’s high school junior varsity squad.
There were numerous occasions where the Terps left wide receivers and running backs completely uncovered. When they were covered, the tackling was so poor they might as well have been uncovered.
Twice a simple slant route was taken all the way in for a touchdown, as Mario Alford and Kevin White tore up the Terps secondary. Clint Trickett torched the Terps defense, completing 37 of 49 pass attempts for an incredible 511 yards and four touchdowns.
Trickett’s 511 yards are 2nd most in school history. The lone bright spot was the defense’s 4th down stops. Twice the defense was able to make a stand and get the ball back into the hands of the offense.
Terps Running game. Again. Where was it? Take out CJ Brown’s QB runs and you’ve got nothing. Albert Reid, Jacquille Veii, and Brandon Ross combined for seven yards on eight carries. That’s good for a solid 0.88 yards per carry.
Maryland seemed to abandon the run early, especially when midway through the second quarter they found themselves trailing 28-6. While I can’t blame them for that, not establishing the run early and often is typically a recipe for disaster. CJ Brown can’t be relied upon to pass the ball over 30 times per game and be the team’s primary running back.
Terps Offensive Line. It was a rough showing for the Terps offensive line. They created no holes for the run game and seemed to routinely get beat by three and four man pass rushes. CJ Brown routinely found himself on the ground after pass plays.
While Brown isn’t the best pocket passer, he can be effective if given enough time to find the open receiver. With Stefon Diggs and Deon Long out catching passes, it is imperative Brown has ample time to get these playmakers the ball.
Turnovers. If there was one big bright spot for the Terps on Saturday, it was in the turnover department. After an abysmal six turnovers a week ago, seeing the Terps +3 in the turnover differential was a pleasant surprise.
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Maryland forced four turnovers, three fumbles and one interception. In addition, the Terps special teams department came up huge with a blocked field goal and Will Likely’s 69 yard punt return touchdown to tie the game at 37 in the 4th quarter.
Which team wanted it more (or less)? If there was ever a game that you look back on and say, ‘man, neither of these teams deserved to win’, this was it. Between the over 1,100 yards of total offense and five total turnovers, this was not the game to watch if you like defense.
Factor in the blocked field goal, the muffed punt, and the rain from start to finish, and you have a 40-37 last-second field goal that left fans of both teams wondering if their team was any good.
To sum it all up: A good team does not turn the ball over four times (including a muffed punt), have a field goal blocked, and fail to convert on 4th and one on multiple occasions (ahem… WVU). A good team also does not commit seven penalties, allow over 500 yards passing and nearly 200 yards rushing, and convert on a meager four of 15 3rd down opportunities (ahem… UMD). Both of these teams have a lot of work to do.
What’s next: Maryland travels to New York on Saturday to battle the 2-0 Syracuse Orange at the Carrier Dome.