Saturday, October 3, 2009

Postgame Report Card: Maryland 24, Clemson 21

The word of the game is…..redemption. Maryland was in major trouble after very bad non-conference play. But the Terps showed they are not out yet. Thanks to some tremendous defensive and special teams play, Maryland pulled out a huge victory and started their ACC schedule off right. There were obvious problems during the game, and Clemson had opportunities. But Maryland was causing the Tigers trouble everywhere they went.

With the victory, Maryland improves to 2-3 overall and 1-0 in the ACC. They will hit the road next week to take on Wake Forest. The win did have a price: Da’Rel Scott broke his wrist and is likely done for the season.

Offense – Overall Grade: C+

Quarterbacks: A-

Chris Turner did everything you could ask of him today, throwing very solid passes and not making a major mistake. 19/26 with 211 yards including two scores and no picks. He also had a few decent runs. Only thing I question is his run to the left on 4th and inches in the fourth quarter, but otherwise he got the job done when Maryland needed it most.

Running Backs: D-

The name on the jersey was irrelevant. Da’Rel Scott, Davin Meggett, and Gary Douglas all were ineffective against the Clemson defense. Meggett took the bulk of the carries and nearly cost Maryland the game with his fumble in the 4th quarter. Those three combined: 21 rushes for 44 yards. Meggett did get a one-yard touchdown at least.

Wide Receivers: B

The depth of wide receiver is finally starting to show, as Maryland had three effective targets today. Torrey Smith continued to be the real threat but Adrian Cannon and Ronnie Tyler got into it as well. Tyler had some issues though holding onto the ball, including dropping a catch that would have been a first down easily, but the unit did well against a solid Clemson secondary.

Tight Ends: B-

Tommy Galt had a couple of nice catches and was a helpful short passing target for Turner. However, a holding penalty on Lansford Watson was very costly on a run.

Offensive Line: D-

There was nearly no containment on the harsh blitz attack by the Clemson defense, and subsequently no running game could be established. Worse, Bruce Campbell might be hurt again, which would be a serious problem for Maryland.

Defense – Overall Grade: A-

Defensive Line: B+

The fact is it is difficult to contain C.J. Spiller, and the line did enough to do just that. Plus when the heat was on for the defense to hold the lead, the line got good penetration to pressure Kyle Parker and cuase him problems. Not a perfect day, but a solid one.

Linebackers: A-

A couple of forced fumbles and effective running on the blitz was a sight for sore eyes for Don Brown. Clemson was trying to throw tricks at Maryland and mostly they did not work. The unit had to deal with Spiller and Jacoby Ford, and although both had their opportunities, neither got a lot done against the unit.

Secondary: A-

Jamari McCollough’s return to the Maryland secondary is huge, as he was making sure Clemson had no deep threats at all. The Tigers had to adjust to put Jacoby Ford in the short field to give him the ball. They had an interception late in the second quarter, but the great play came from coverage all day. Kenny Tate was all around the field today, sacking the quarterback and having good coverage.

Special Teams – Overall Grade: B-

Kicker/Punter: A

Nick Ferrera must have injected some of Travis Baltz’s DNA. He converted his only field goal attempt, a 43-yarder, all three extra points, and had four punts downed inside the 20. He even had a punt where he faked to throw off a would-be tackler and got the punt off a second later. This kid is just a freshman and it is already looking like he could have NFL Draft potential.

Returners: B

A mixed grade, especially on the punt returns. Anthony Wiseman’s lost fumble in the first quarter completely reversed the momentum of the game to Clemson, and he will likely not get his job back. Tony Logan took over and had an excellent punt return to near the goal line in the fourth quarter. Torrey Smith was fine on kickoff returns.

Coverage: D

Most of the time the unit was helped by either Ferrera’s excellent punting skills or the fact that kickoffs were mostly away from Spiller. But after Maryland went up by 11 and kicked the ball to Spiller, he broke a couple of tackles when the Terps clearly should have had him and let him break loose for a score. Spiller is great, but when you have him wrapped up, you need to make the tackle.

Coaching – Overall Grade: B

Offensive: C-

The playcalling looked better this week and drives were sometimes finished off, but the fact is once again the offense did not look great and nearly cost Maryland the game at times. Playcalling is often not judged by the good but often by the bad. When Maryland had chances to finish the Tigers in the second half, strange plays were called. Having a possible pass by LaQuan Williams, a 4th and inches run to the left that failed, etc. Turner’s good day spared James Franklin today some problems, but Franklin nearly cost Maryland the game at certain times doe to bad playcalling.

Defensive: A

The players look like they were finally catching on to the Don’s defense. The defense did not allow any touchdowns in the second half and showed some great blitzes, especially when Maryland needed big plays. The team kept Spiller and Ford in check during the game, and despite some very tough situations in the fourth quarter, the defense delivered by holding their ground. For the first time this year, Don Brown had a great day all game.

MVP: Nick Ferrera

This game was about special teams and defense, and Ferrera’s play was invaluable, especially downing the Tigers inside the 20 four times plus converting his extra points and his only field goal. Pretty good for a freshman.

LVP: Anthony Wiseman

His fumble on the punt in the first quarter completely changed the momentum from Maryland to Clemson. All he had to do was catch the ball and Maryland would have been inside Clemson territory on offense, instead the Tigers got the ball back and got a field goal.

(Photo credit: AP)

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