Saturday, September 6, 2008

Postgame Report Card: Middle Tennessee State 24, Maryland 14

The word of the game is... embarrassment. However my friends, there are a limitless number of words to describe this. Unacceptable, trash, junk, garbage (can you catch a theme?), shameful, ludicrous… I’m ashamed not only to be a Terrapin today but to be part of the ACC. The performance today shamed not only the state but the entire conference. I know I’m being obtuse here and I know it’s a reflection of how I feel about this university and its relation to our great state of Maryland. We proudly fly that flag at every event, unfurling it in great splendor before each home game with a bang from the marching band, putting it on each player’s uniform, and making it’s design the centerpiece to our university’s promotions. With that comes responsibility. Hopefully that made some sense.

I have to say this much before I give my grades: I know that these players are just students and don’t deserve to be treated like professional athletes. This blog is intended to be a place where fans can hear straight opinions on sports, and while that doesn’t mean that these athletes should be attacked personally, it does mean that the athletes will be judged (often harshly) on what they do on the field. Make no mistake I’m pulling for each and every one of these young men. When I open my mouth and criticize them, I really hope they come back and put me in my place as an idiot fan.

I’ll step off the pulpit and get right down to the unpleasantry.

Offense - Overall Grade: F
Quarterbacks: F
No doubting this grade. Turner failed in every way possible. He made incorrect pre-snap reads, he was flustered throughout the game, didn’t make the most average of throws, and eliminated any chance this team had of winning. The only reason this isn’t an F- is because of the offensive line. p.s. Josh Portis gets an incomplete for his grade because of horrendous misuse.
Running Backs: C+
Da’Rell Scott’s long touchdown scamper was the only highlight of the day from the running game. He also saved Turner yet another incompletion with a superb one handed grab of a poorly thrown screen. Davin Meggett was a nonfactor and Da’Rell couldn’t get much going either outside of one or two plays.
Wide Receivers: B-
It’s hard to fault them because the passes were so poor and they had little opportunity to make plays. This group saved Turner on several occasions, and took the hits as he laid them out to dry. One or two passes however were dropped, and although the game footage that I saw can’t confirm it, I’m willing to bet that there must have been some lack of separation with the Middle Tennessee defenders.
Tight Ends: D+
Unfortunately this group has to claim some responsibility for the horrendous run and pass blocking. A few catches saves this group from a lower grade.
Offensive Line: F-
This unit was so bad it edges out Turner for the worst performance of the game. They couldn’t handle Middle Tennessee’s defensive front. Let me repeat that: They couldn’t handle Middle Tennessee’s defensive front. Middle Tennessee’s biggest weakness was that front, and they were gashed by Troy the previous week. This unit couldn’t run block, they were by and large mediocre in pass blocking. Easily the worst offensive line play I’ve seen at Maryland, and it’s not even close.

Defense - Overall Grade: D-
Defensive Line: D-

I understand that the offense did nothing and led to these guys wearing out, and I understand that. But. Take the first couple drives for Middle Tennessee, and watch the performance of this line. Both when they were tired and when they weren’t they failed to take command of the line of scrimmage and let Middle Tennessee steadily drive the ball downfield.
Linebackers: D
Shouldn’t the coaches teach this unit not to over pursue? They looked completely lost, and rarely if ever protected the backside. As such the misdirection destroyed them as they were steadily pushed back. Alex Wujciak’s outstanding play saves this unit.
Defensive Backs: D+
A lot of plays were left on the field, and it looked like they were napping from the opening bell. Unfortunately they didn’t wake up until midway through the second quarter. I see a lot of potential but a complete lack of preparation, concentration, and discipline.

Special Teams - Overall Grade: D
Kicker: D-
Egekeze missed a gimme field goal again, going 0-1 on FGs and 2-2 on extra points. He doesn’t get an F because he only had one field goal to miss, so it’s not like he went 0-3…
Punter: B
Travis Baltz was utilized too much, but he did his job and did it pretty well.
Returners: C
Oquendo, while I’m a big fan of him and his toughness, still needs to learn when and when not to fair catch the football. Once he doesn’t fair catch, there’s way too much dancing. All around this unit underachieved but it doesn’t help that Middle Tennessee’s pursuit was excellent and the coverage team was, well…
Coverage: C
They hung the returners out to dry, no room to operate whatsoever. Don’t tell me that these aren’t superior athletes to the home school.

Coaching - Overall Grade: F-
Offensive: F+

Why. Why. Why was Turner still in the game when he’d clearly lost control of the team, not to mention his confidence. Portis might not be the answer and maybe he doesn’t look that good in practice, but you have to take chances to win. And the use of Portis was horrendous, even when he was the only quarterback of the two who provided any sort of a spark. There was ONE pass play for him, and then that was it. Fourth and six and you run it again with Portis? Give me a break. This coaching staff needs… you know I don’t know what it needs. Maybe a reality check. If that’s the case this game might be good for that much.
Defensive: F+
No excuse. I don’t want to hear that the offense didn’t give the defense a chance. The performance was unacceptable and it’s very very clear that they were napping to start this game and hopelessly unprepared or unmotivated. And that is one hundred percent on the coaching staff. I might feel bad about criticizing the kids on this team (and I do) but I don’t feel bad about criticizing this coaching staff for dropping the ball. You all are grown men and professionals, and you did these boys a tremendous disservice.

And for my MVP/LVP...
MVP (Most Valuable Player) – Alex Wujciak – The only bright spot on an uninspiring defensive effort. His big stops down the stretch were the only things that kept the Terps in the game.
LVP (Least Valuable Player) – Chris Turner –Enough has already been said.

There’s another grade I have to put in:
Broadcast: F-
CSS’s broadcast was a joke. Better camerawork, not to mention better cameras, can be seen on home videos shot from my early childhood. Unprofessional is the word I would use.

(Photo Credit: AP)

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