Saturday, September 26, 2009

Postgame Report Card: Rutgers 34, Maryland 13

No one word of the game can describe what happened in this contest. Maryland went up against a team that is about there equal, perhaps a bit better or worse, in a rainstorm in College Park. Instead of having a competitive game, Maryland turned the ball over constantly, could not move the ball, and looked like they completely gave up during the middle of the fourth quarter. Say what you want about Maryland, normally they do not give up in games, most will fight until it is done. But not today. An entire program, from coaches to players to the student section, waved the white flag very early and surrendered to Rutgers, possibly giving up their whole season for it. After all their mistakes, they had a lead at halftime and just a four-point deficit into the fourth quarter, but apparently it didn't matter. By far the 4th quarter was the worst 15 minutes this season. The rain is not an excuse; Rutgers had that problem too, with a backup quarterback.

Now at 1-3, the Terps will have to get a winning record in-conference just to get a bowl appearance. By the look of this team, it is highly unlikely. The ACC is a better conference this season than last year, and although the Terps will not have to go through Miami, Georgia Tech, or UNC, but the rest of the conference it still deadly. But if they don't make a bowl, then all they will have to do is look at their non-conference performances to know why.

Offense - Overall Grade: D-
Quarterbacks: F

Chris Turner had two turnovers that turned into defensive touchdowns, plus two other interceptions, which could have been much more had the ball not been wet and slipped out of cornerbacks' hands. The first defensive touchdown was on the first defensive play. Did all right getting the long pass and had some good throws, but that is all the good Chris Turner did, and the bad far outweighed the good. For someone that claimed this was "his team" coming into this year, he looks the exact same way when he started two years ago, inconsistent and unable to play well when Maryland needs it most.
Running Backs: D
Da'Rel Scott could do nothing today, averaging 2.7 yards a carry, even losing a fumble on one of his better runs. Maryland had all of 29 yards on the ground today. Only reason this is not a worse grade is because the unit only had 14 runs compared to 38 passing plays.
Wide Receivers: B+
Torrey Smith looks like a future star, making great catches during the day even though Rutgers often double teamed him. Adrian Cannon and Ronnie Tyler also played well in the unit. LaQuan Williams made a TD catch, and if he can return to his 2007 form, he could be deadly. A lot of people questioned what Turner could do without Heyward-Bey. The fact is Maryland has a plethora of solid WR targets, and they are a great asset.
Tight Ends: B-
Lansford Watson had three catches, Tommy Galt had two, and the unit helped Turner throw to the middle. Overall not that influential however. Offensive Line: F-
The Rutgers blitz attack completely dominated today. No running game and Turner was hurried all day. Considering Bruce Campbell was back, this unit should have done better. The numbers: Turner sacked three times, 1.2 yards per rush.

Defense - Overall Grade: C+
Note: Before the fourth quarter, the defense had done an excellent job, giving up only three points as unit. But games are 60 minutes long, not 45.
Defensive Line: C
Dominic Natale was not an effective quarterback, getting sacked three times by Maryland, one of them by Travis Ivey, considering the few number of passing plays called. For a good while, the line had the running game contained, but two huge runs in the fourth quarter by Joe Martinek sealed it, both coming on plays where everyone knew a running play was coming.
Linebackers: B
Alex Wujciak had 17 tackles, and was huge tonight. The unit had a lot of tackles, and until the fourth quarter was stellar.
Secondary: C+
The unit often didn't have a chance to have problems, as Rutgers didn't pass often. But a couple of very bad penalties, especially an inexcusable unnecessary roughness on Antwine Perez, kept allowing Rutgers to advance on a drive.

Special Teams - Overall Grade: B
Kicker: A

Nick Ferrera converted two field goals and an extra point. Did his job.
Punter: B
For Maryland's sake, I hope Travis Baltz is all right. He limped off the field after a punt from the goal line. Baltz got a punt off after the ball slipped from his hands despite four people coming after him. But, he did shank a punt for minimal yardage.
Coverage: B-
One good kickoff return for Rutgers, but the other two were not. Overall, Rutgers could not gain anything on special teams, except when a player ran into a returner before catching the ball.
Returners: C+
Torrey Smith was average on kickoff returns, getting about 20 yards per return. Anthony Wiseman got hammered on a punt return, but he held onto the football.

Coaching - Overall Grade: D-
Offensive: F-
James Franklin's gameplan led Maryland to a disaster. In a rainstorm, he is forcing Maryland to pass all day. No running game was established and plays were predictable. On the first offensive play, he comes out five-wide with no backfield. IN A RAINSTORM! No wonder Turner threw a pick six! Plus after the second quarter, the offense had no points. Why he refused to establish a running game in bad weather is inexcusable no matter how much the unit is struggling. Plus, whenever your offensive players give up on a drive, coaching is to blame for part of it.
Defensive: C-
I want to believe Don Brown can be a good defensive coordinator here, but it is not clear yet. His unit had a great first 45 minutes, stopping the Rutgers offense at every turn despite no help from the lackluster offense. Then in the fourth quarter no one can stop the run, even when everyone knows it is coming. The Rutgers offense was one-dimensional, and the defense could not stop them in the fourth quarter. The unit gave up on the final touchdown by Joe Martinek, ending what could have been a great day.
Head Coach: F
I'm not sure to what degree Ralph Friedgen has in blame for the problems with Maryland football, but whenever your team just quits during a game, it shows a lack of discipline and heart.

MVP: Alex Wujciak
The leader of the defense had 17 tackles.
LVP: Chris Turner
Three interceptions, a lost fumble, accounting for two defensive touchdowns, and failed to lead like a captain. I only wish I could pick a coach. Or three.

Today's game is clearly a black mark on the Maryland football program, and I would argue this loss was worse than the Middle Tennessee loss. A team, its coaches, and its fans giving up during the game. Maryland has a very big uphill climb to try to make it to a bowl game, and frankly, the road gets harder from here on in.

(Photo credit: AP, Baltimore Sun)

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