The word of the game is... downpour. Of excitement, drama, a whole lot of offense, and just a little bit of rain. In this monsoon the game alternated between a shootout between two crisp offenses and a messy slugfest of defense and special teams. Maryland ended up winning this affair with an impressive 90 yard drive, resulting in a 20-yard Egekeze field goal with six seconds left in the game. It can certainly be said that this game should not have been as close as it was. However, NC State came to play and they have shown in recent weeks that they have legitimate talent on offense and a potential budding star at quarterback. The reason this game was closer than many thought it should be was not that Maryland ‘slept’ on the opponent in typical fashion. Both teams came to play and it was an absolute classic (to those who saw it).
Offense - Overall Grade: A-
Turner didn’t have one of his better games, and given the success of the running game he didn’t have to. Although he completed fewer than half of his passes and missed a number of open throws, I don’t want to hammer him because he managed the game and didn’t make any egregious mistakes. Turner made the throws he had to make for the Terps to win the game, and for that he deserves credit.
Running Backs: A+
So that is where Da’Rel Scott has been hiding! Da’Rel returned to his early season form, gaining 164 yards on 23 carries (7.1 yard average) with a touchdown. For the first time since the Maryland-Cal game, Da’Rel showed the quickness and breakaway speed we saw early in the year. His running mate, Davin Meggett, had a sensational game relieving Scott; Davin Meggett was the key to Maryland’s 90-yard touchdown drive, providing a clutch 31-yard catch and run to set Maryland up for the game-winning field goal.
Wide Receivers: B
This group didn’t have many opportunities, but Heyward-Bey had a couple of nice catches and had a 17-yard reverse in Maryland’s first scoring drive. Danny Oquendo had a rare off-day, dropping one catch (although it was thrown behind him) and being neutralized throughout the game. Again, like Turner, not much was asked of this group given the success of the running game.
Tight Ends: B+
Dan Gronkowski led the Terps in receptions today, hauling in three catches for 37 yards and a touchdown. Gronkowski did have a drop, but given the difficulty of the catch, the impact from the defender and the slick conditions, he could not be expected to catch the ball. This unit was exceptional in run blocking, as both Gronkowski and Watson helped seal the edge for many of Da’Rell’s outside runs which became a go-to play for the Terps’ running game.
Offensive Line: A-
In the run game, this group was as dominant as it has been all year. NC State was manhandled in the running game, and the line showed a good deal of athleticism getting to the edge on the outside runs. The pass protection was average however, and the Terps are very fortunate that the number of late holding calls against this unit did not come back to haunt them.
Defense - Overall Grade: C+
Defensive Line: C
This group was terrorized all game by Russell Wilson, as they could not get any consistent pressure and had no containment on Wilson outside of the pocket. The running game was by and large shut down, but the overarching problem was that the Maryland defensive line could not get any consistent penetration in the Wolfpack backfield.
Again, Russell Wilson gave this bunch nightmares today, and they seemed lost at times trying to figure out how to respond to him. To their credit, the Terp linebackers showed good discipline, particularly in sticking to their assignments when Wilson would roll out. The running game was also controlled nicely, and the tackling was crisp. In the end however, these Terps will need to learn how to handle dual threat quarterbacks or it could be a long night in Blacksburg on Thursday night.
Defensive Backs: B
Looking back, the secondary for Maryland did not play all that poorly considering the amount of time that Wilson was given in the pocket. There were a couple of good pass deflections, and only a couple distinct breakdowns in coverage. The tackling could have been significantly better, but considering the lack of depth this group played admirably.
Special Teams - Overall Grade: B-
Egekeze kicked an impressive 47-yard field goal and the game winning 20-yard field goal, and helped reestablish his reputation at the University of Maryland as a dependable kicker. His missed 39-yarder was close and not an easy field goal at all; the rain had suddenly come down exceptionally hard as he was lining up to kick, creating a near worst-case environment.
Travis Baltz wasn’t needed very often, but per usual he was one of the best players on the field for the Terps. He averaged a whopping 49 yards on two punts, with one downed at the ½ yard line. Travis also executed a superb squib kick after Egekeze’s go-ahead field goal.
Torrey Smith was excellent on kick returns; he continues to look better each game as he gains confidence. Oquendo had an unusually shaky day on punt returns, committing a crucial muff in the second half.
Neither punt was returned, and NC State averaged fewer than 20 yards on their kick returns. The downing of Baltz’s punt at the ½ yard line was a key play in determining field position in the second half.
Coaching - Overall Grade: B+
It’s easy to call plays when your team is running as well as the Terps were today. This offense, when not hindered by the harsh conditions, hummed similarly as it did against Wake Forest. Admittedly, in this game the offense found its rhythm running rather than passing, but that more than anything else gives hope for the future. If there’s one thing that James Franklin has shown, it’s that when he has an advantage; he pushes it.
Chris Cosh failed to contain Russell Wilson, allowing him to run wild on the Terps. There were very few unique or effective blitz packages, and Wilson had plenty of time to pick Cosh’s secondary apart. This manic pass rush has to get straightened out for the Terps to reach their potential. To their credit, the sacks came when they were most needed in this game. And again, this defense better figure out dual-threat quarterbacks by Thursday or they’re in trouble against Virginia Tech.
And for my MVP/LVP...
MVP (Most Valuable Player) –Da’Rel Scott– Da’Rel went off on the Wolfpack today, certainly helped by a dominant offensive line. Outstanding burst, outstanding vision; everything you would want from your star running back, especially after a string of disappointing performances.
LVP (Least Valuable Player) –Danny Oquendo– Don’t expect to see Danny here again, but unfortunately “Mr. Dependable” was anything but tonight. He was held without a catch, dropping one, and inexcusably muffed a punt in the third quarter.
Student Section: F
Maryland proved yet again that it has a very weak fan base, and I’m embarrassed. I stood out there, in the rain and wind, and I cheered hard for the Terps with the other loyal students. For the student section to be half empty, on Homecoming, in the hunt for an ACC title, in an epic matchup, in the second half is inexcusable. Word to my fellow UMD students; if you’re going to talk trash against your opponents, don’t ditch your team because of some rain. It makes you look pathetic.
(Photo Credit: Baltimore Sun)