Saturday, September 12, 2009

Postgame Report Card: Maryland 38, James Madison 35 (OT)

The word of the game is......whew. Maryland fans are used to excitement at every turn, and today's game sure brought that. JMU had many opportunities to win the game, but numerous penalties spared Maryland from getting upset. Maryland improves to 1-1 and will prepare for Middle Tennessee State next week.

This is one of those games where some fans ask whether Maryland won it or JMU lost it, and really it is close. Maryland had some great moments, especially on offense, but had JMU not committed so many penalties, the Terps might have easily lost this contest. At least they found a way to win, coming back in the fourth quarter and sealing it in overtime. It is one thing to look bad and still win, it is another to actually lose it.

Offense - Overall Grade: B-
Quarterbacks: B-
Chris Turner was a tale of two quarterbacks tonight. At times he looked pretty bad, constantly throwing passes too high and having a very costly pick six, which nearly gave JMU the game in the end. But in the first half he was solid, getting off the quick passes accurately to the flat and leading the Terps to three touchdowns, plus getting the all important touchdown on a 78-yard drive in the 4th quarter to eventually force overtime. Turner needs to be more consistent, but at least he showed great passing in most of the game.
Running Backs: C+
Da'Rel Scott was never a major factor, but he at least kept the ball moving, averaging around four yards a carry. Scott did have a touchdown on a goal line rush, though the Terps need more production from him in the future.
Wide Receivers: B-
Just like Turner, sometimes the receivers were great, sometimes they were terrible. For much of the first half, the corps had to work with WR screens to make their production, as James Franklin was trying to adjust to the problems at the line. Torrey Smith had a tremendous day, catching eight balls for 80 yards plus scoring a rushing touchdown. Adrian Cannon had a good day as well, catching the game-tying touchdown in the end zone, but he and Ronnie Tyler missed some catches they should have had.
Tight Ends: D
No catches as a unit, and average blocking at best. Tommy Galt had a very bad late hit penalty that cost Maryland 15 yards in the fourth quarter.
Offensive Line: B-
Considering that there are four newcomers going against a strong defensive line, the line did all right. Turner was only sacked once and the defensive line did not hinder the passing game too often. But the running game could have been better, as Scott could not get through holes in the line.

Defense - Overall Grade: C-
Defensive Line: C-
Not nearly enough pressure was put on JMU quarterback Drew Dudzik, who never got sacked. JMU could run at will and often the quarterback was the playmaker. Size-wise the Terps needed to play better, especially on some of the runs. But in the final parts of the game, the line performed the way they needed to, stopping JMU to give the Terps a chance in the 4th plus standing pat in overtime.
Linebackers: D+
For the second game in a row, the unit could not tackle properly. They could not cover up tiny holes in the line and Jamal Sullivan often could push for a couple extra yards after getting hit. With Alex Wujciak and Adrian Moten, the unit should be doing better.
Secondary: C
Even though Jamari McCollough is out, JMU receivers were getting open pretty easily at times. Again, like a couple of the units, at times they seemed to lock everything down.

Special Teams - Overall Grade: A-
Kicker: A+
Nick Ferrera kicked the game-winning field goal plus converted all five extra points. Looks like Maryland has their kicker for the next four years.
Punter: A-
Travis Baltz was worked tonight, kicking seven punts for an average of over 42 yards each. He downed two inside the 20.
Returners: B-
This grade is mixed between two events. Torrey Smith got a huge 81-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the first quarter. On the other hand, Kenny Tate had a costly fumble after the ball was stripped from his hands on a punt return, which would lead to a JMU touchdown drive.
Coverage: B+
Had good blocking on kickoffs for Torrey Smith, average on punt returns.

Coaching - Overall Grade: C
Offensive: B
James Franklin employed a good gameplan for the contest. Knowing he would have offensive line issues, he had Turner constantly throwing to his receivers in the flat to directly attack the inexperienced JMU secondary and not risking too much until the Terps had to. His gameplan was good even if the players had problems executing it. Only issue I have is the lack of adapting to the defensive tendencies during the game, as it led to problems in the second half, but piecing the eight-play, 78-yard drive in the 4th quarter to tie the game was great.
Defensive: D
Don Brown needs to teach his players how to tackle and blitz better. JMU is a good team, but Maryland should have been beating them based on matchups; instead the Dukes established a strong, moving offense. The announcers said Brown likes an aggressive defense; if so, they did not get the job done, as Dudzik was not sacked and constantly found problems in the defense, like on his 70-yard run.

MVP: Torrey Smith
Great day for the sophomore wideout, getting eight catches for 80 yards plus scoring two touchdowns, one rushing and one off a kickoff.
LVP: Tommy Galt
A couple of players could have been named, but Tommy Galt did not get a catch and had a terrible 15-yard penalty on a late hit that cost Maryland a chance on a late 4th quarter drive.

(Photo credit: AP)

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