Saturday, September 20, 2008

Postgame Report Card: Maryland 51, Eastern Michigan 24

The word of the game This was expected to be a Maryland win and it was, but now the focus goes to the ACC. The Terps didn't overlook their MAC foes and got a solid win, if a little unsettling at times. But the fact is Maryland got the win, improved to 3-1, and learned a lot of info about their offense to be ready for conference play.

This is the 4th time Maryland has played Eastern Michigan, subsequently the fourth time the Terps destroyed the Eagles.

Offense- Overall Grade: B
Quarterbacks: B
When you have a very balanced attack, the field general deserves a lot of the credit. Chris Turner for the most part was solid on the field and hit his receivers. Two interceptions, both in EU territory, were problematic, but his production was very effective, including a 32-yard TD throw to Darrius Heyward-Bey. Josh Portis got to run the last Maryland drive, primarily running and getting a touchdown at the end.
Running Backs: C
With no Da'Rel Scott, the Terps needed production from Davin Meggett and Morgan Green, and neither played well. Both combined had 20 rushes for 63 yards. Green did help red zone production with two touchdowns on short runs. If Scott isn't ready for Clemson, Maryland may have big problems next week. Cory Jackson caught two key passes and had solid blocking.
Wide Receivers: A
The stars of today's game. Heyward-Bey had a huge 32-yard TD catch plus two 35+ yard end-arounds. No one had more than three catches, but Isaiah Williams and Torrey Smith had big receptions. Danny Oquendo had a fantastic throw for a touchdown after a double reversal play. The wide receivers looked at their best today.
Tight Ends: B-
Not really a factor today, only two catches for Dan Gronkowski, one for a TD. Most of Maryland's formations didn't include tight ends except for blocking, which wasn't anything special.
Offensive Line: C+
The running game never got going, and if not for a solid passing game, the grade would be worse. Holes just never opened up for Green and Meggett. But, Turner only got sacked once, so the quarterback was well protected.

Defense- Overall Grade: C+
Defensive Line: C+
I'm being a little nice since Chris Cosh rarely called a blitz and Eagle quarterback Kyle McMahon played nearly the entire game in shotgun. But the Eagle running game was getting decent yardage and not nearly enough pressure was put on an O-line that was much smaller than them. They'll need to improve that, especially against much stronger ACC running games.
Linebackers: B-
Alex Wujciak and Dave Philistin had solid days, combining for 19 tackles and two tackles for loss. Nothing special from the core, but an overall decent job.
Secondary: C-
A 2nd-string quarterback with less than dependable receivers, and the secondary couldn't shut down the air strikes. A number of 1st downs from the air, and a third string tight end was burning them on receptions. The lack of pressure from the D-Line was giving McMahon a lot of time, but the secondary needs to play much better. They did have two interceptions, both in Maryland territory, to stop key drives.

Special Teams- Overall Grade: A
Kicker: A+
It's great to see Obi Egekeze back to form. 3-3 on field goals (all under 33 yards), 6-6 on extra points, and had most kickoffs putting EU on or inside the 20-yard line. He's bounced back, and just in time.
Punter: A
Only one punt for Travis Baltz, but it was a 44-yarder that put EU inside the 20.
Returners: B+
Torrey Smith was a monster on kickoff returns, including a 57-yard return. He ran intelligently on the field and ran well on the outside. Nothing special on punt returns, but not many chances were given anyway.
Coverage: A
The first blocked punt since 2006 and giving great room for Smith to run on kickoffs. The special teams deserve a ton of credit for Maryland's win today.

Coaching- Overall Grade: B-
Offensive: B
It is hard to argue with putting 51 points on the board and getting Josh Portis some useful playing time. The no-huddle offense needs work however, as often the plays called on the no-huddle were stuffed running plays at the line. But overall, considering the running game was getting nowhere, the end arounds and solid passing game were great, plus the double reverse pass from Oquendo shows confidence that the Terps rarely show.
Defensive: C
It may be true that EU doesn't have a strong offense, but that first half was terrible defensively. Allowing the EU passing game to drive down the field and not call for blitzes to pressure the quarterback, leaving the secondary to dry. But the second half showed good adjustments to first half problems. Cosh will need to keep it up, and Maryland need to show more aggression.

MVP: Chris Turner
When the balanced offense is effective, the quarterback is the one to thank. Chris Turner played a solid game, 15/23 with two touchdowns and two interceptions, but had no running game to work with. Really, a number of players could be chosen here.
LVP: Davin Meggett
Meggett wasn't finding the holes and often looked lost on the field. Only 23 yards on eight carries. The Terps needed him to step up in Scott's absence, and he didn't do it.

As always, one extra category:
Maryland athletics: A
During the game, the Terps softball team was selling programs for $1 to support themselves. A number of athletic programs wouldn't dream of doing that, but Debbie Yow and the athletic department deeply care about all 27 sports Maryland has.
(Photo credit: Maryland athletics)

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