Well, this beltway trip hasn’t quite turned out the way I expected. I was expecting to have pictures to accompany this post, but I’m thinking this one should go down the memory hole asap, and I’ll be destroying all records of it (perhaps I’ll have a change of heart later). Here are some initial, slightly-impaired thoughts on this debacle.
What does this remind me of?
My first thought is let’s not get too despondent. Appearing drastically overmatched in every facet of the game while giving up 35 points to an out-of-conference foe on the road. We’ve seen this movie before, no? Yes, a lot about this game reminded me of that trip to Tennessee two years ago. And yes, it feels deflating the same way that loss did. But it also reminds me that sometimes you just come out flat in a road game. Sometimes, you fail to execute and get away from your game plan. And sometimes you bounce back and redeem yourself when it matters — in conference play — like we did that year. So yes, this was bad. But what comes of it is still unknown.
And about the game plan
I’ve always thought the keys to Tedford’s offensive success were balance and possession. On thing I’ve noticed over the years is that some of our most painful loses are characterized by an abandonment of the running game that drives that Tedford scheme. Obviously some of that is a necessary result of getting behind early and needing to pass to get back in the game. But I really felt like Tedford prematurely abandoned the emphasis on balance in games like our loss to Tennessee in 2006, our loss to Stanfurd last year, and our loss today.
I get that the run just wasn’t there today. But maybe it would have arrived later in the game. What good is throwing fifty-one times to get back in the game quickly, if throwing is getting you consistent 3-and-outs? I generally think that if you’re the more-talented team, you should stick to your scheme even if you’re not executing and you’re falling behind.
And a few notes on the atmosphere…
One bright spot to note is that Cal had a huge showing at the game. Everyone in my section was behaving with class and good cheer even when Cal was stinking up the place. The Maryland fans were also fairly respectful. A few sitting just in front of the upperdeck of the Cal section were wearing shirts that said “You Suck” and were obviously intended for whatever visiting fans happen to sit behind that section week after week. Dickish? Yes. But kinda clever.
Also, there’s an amazing emphasis on commercialism in the Maryland stadium. I’ve never seen so many corporate tyeins at a college football game. “Hold up your Chevy Chase bank card and win $100.” Every Maryland touchdown entitled fans to a free topping at Papa John’s (that’s five delicious toppings people!). The best was the pledge that, should Maryland score 26 points, everyone would get a free gallon of windshield wiper fluid. Many a clean windshield on the beltway this weekend.