Sunday, September 28, 2008

Postgame Report Card: Maryland 20-Clemson 17

The word of the game is....shocking. Shocking that Maryland looked terrible in the first half. Shocking that James Davis and C.J. Spiller had nearly 100 yards a piece after the first half. Shocking that Maryland adjusted well for the second half and scored two touchdowns. Shocking that Clemson crumbled at home. Shocking that Maryland could come back.

For the second time in a row, Maryland defeated a ranked-Clemson team while being unranked themselves in Death Valley. Despite a terrible first half, where really it should have been over, the Terps put enough together in the second half and completely shut down the Clemson offense to win. Ralph Friedgen said after the game that it was that Maryland made less mistakes than Clemson, but a lot more credit should be given to the Terps.

For WMUC, I was down in Death Valley only 10 feet from Deborah Yow in the Clemson press box. What we all saw shocked us. Maryland has won three straight and improved to 4-1, with two wins over ranked opponents. Could anyone have seen this after what happened in Tennessee?

Offense- Overall Grade: C+
Quarterbacks: C+
One of the overall themes you'll see in this report card is a tale of two halves. Chris Turner was terrible in the first half; he himself said it was the worst first half since Middle Tennessee State. But he didn't do anything destructive. The second half was muc better, he looked more fluid and took advantage of Clemson's defensive issues across the middle. His worst pass in the second half was deflected off a receiver's back and caught. Overall he did enough, just he still need to play a full game.
Running backs: C
Da'Rel Scott was a complete non-factor against Clemson's powerful defensive line, averaging 1.7 yards a carry. He didn't have a lot of help from the play-calling and Clemson has a solid run defense, but Scott needs to be a little better, though he did have a touchdown. He would have had another touchdown that was ruled off because of a false start. Practically no play for Davin Meggett or Morgan Green.
Wide Receivers: B
The WR core was big in the second half. The Tigers kept Darrius Heyward-Bey with no catches, so Danny Oquendo was the senior leader with four catches. Mainly the WR core was heads up, catching the deflected pass and not dropping a potential touchdown. Heyward-Bey did have a huge end-around for 75 yards, and juking and jiving most of the way.
Tight Ends: B
Dan Gronkowski does exist! Only two catches but both were on first down and resulted in first downs. I've often felt Turner doesn't use Gronkowski enough, be they had a good relationship today.
Offensive Line: C
On the one hand, Turner didn't get sacked or throw a pick, and against Clemson's line that is very impressive. On the other, Maryland running game couldn't get anything going, and that destroyed the first half possibilities. Worse, a false start negated a Maryland touchdown.

Defense- Overall Grade: B
Defensive Line: C+
The first half, the line got run all over by Davis and Spiller. Both ended with over 100 yards and a touchdown. But in the second half, the line dominated, completely shutting down the running game and effectively pressuring Cullen Harper. They held when Maryland had the lead. It took a while, but the defensive finally got the job done, and just in time.
Linebackers: B+
Alex Wujciak and Moise Fokou are absolute monsters, combining for 25 tackles. They had to make big stops in both halves to help fill in the line holes. Obviously had some problems in the first half like the whole defense did, but a much better job all-around for the LB core.
Secondary: B
Coverage for the most part was solid, Harper never had a chance to throw deep, instead focusing on short passes. It is hard to grade since Clemson focused mainly on running, but because the Terps are dealing with a lot of injuries in the secondary, it was a good job overall.

Special Teams- Overall Grade: B+
Kicker: A
Obi Egekeze had two field goals against the Death Valley student section and did well on kickoffs.
Punter: A
Travis Baltz might be the best player outside of Heyward-Bey. He landed three punts inside the 20 and averaged 43.9 yards a punt.
Returners: C+
Nothing special, nothing dire. Torrey Smith had some decent kickoff returns and Oquendo had less than great punt returns.
Coverage: B+
Spiller, a very dangerous returner, didn't have any big returns. No decent punt returns either. But the big thing was the fumble recovery in the first half on the punt that set up the first score for Maryland.

Coaching- Overall Grade: C+
Offense: C-
Overall not good play-calling from James Franklin. The first half was extremely predictable, with Scott always getting the ball and Clemson stuffing him. Then, with two starts inside the Clemson 30, neither turned into touchdowns. The second half was better, but a lot of help was from the defense. Plays need to become less predictable and get your stars the ball a little more.
Defense: B-
Chris Cosh's defense didn't look ready for the Thunder and Lightning duo in the first half, giving up 100 yards to each in the first half. But the second half adjustments were great, forcing short passes and shutting down the running game. No points in the second half for Clemson gave Maryland a chance to win, and they did. I still have issues with Cosh, but his defense came through when they needed to.

MVP: Alex Wujciak
Wujciak is just a monster, getting 16 tackles on the day and leading a stellar second half defense.
LVP: Da'Rel Scott
It is hard to have an LVP is such a big victory, but Scott's lack of production really hindered the offense's capabilities. Only 1.7 yards a carry just won't cut it.

Maryland (4-1) will head on the road to take on Virginia next week.

1 comment:

Bill-DC said...

I must disagree about Da'Rell Scott. Remember, he had a sprained shoulder suffered in the Cal game. His stats weren't pretty but Clemson's D kept forcing him to run sideways. He didn't give up though and he came up HUGE in the 4th quarter, first with the TD and then catching a key pass on 3rd and 7 during the Terps last drive to seal the win.

A gutsy performance in my book and I agree Fridge should have used Meggett more.

BTW nice blog.