Maryland Football: Analysis After Week 1 Win over Miami
In their Labor Day season opener, the Maryland Terrapins defeated the Miami Hurricanes 32-24, delivering a win in Randy Edsall’s coaching debut.
The matchup was unique in that it is very rare for teams to open the season with a divisional game. Furthermore, it was a matchup between two new head coaches as Al Golden took the reins for the Hurricanes, a team that was missing eight players due to ineligibility.
Here is what I think the Terps did well and what need to improve for them to have a successful season.
Maryland came out of the gates hot on offense as 2010 ACC Rookie of the Year Danny O’Brien led the Terps on an 11 play 79 yard drive, capped off by a touchdown pass to Ronnie Tyler.
Maryland had an effective game plan going with the no huddle offense, and throwing a lot of bubble screens to give their receivers running room.
When Maryland marched another 70 yards on their second drive they looked unstoppable, until O’Brien tried forcing a pass into the end zone which resulted in an interception. The following two drives were also 60 plus yards, but each time Maryland stalled in the red zone and was forced to settle for field goals. The Terps entered half time with a 20-14 lead, however the way their offense drove the ball it arguably could have been a 35-14 lead.
In the second half the pattern was repeated, as Maryland had three drives of over 60 yards, all ending with field goal attempts. If Maryland was able to convert a few of those drives into touchdowns, they would've run away with the game.
Maryland finished the game with 499 yards of total offense, but those yards need to turn into touchdowns if they are going to be able to compete with the rest of the ACC.
Keep in mind that Miami was playing with a depleted offensive line as a result of ineligibility.
Overall Danny O'Brien played very well, throwing for 348 yards and a touchdown, with a completion percentage of 70 percent. O'Brien showed a lot of poise running the hurry up offense, which is something that Maryland did very little of under Ralph Friedgen.
However, O'Brien's decision making in the red zone needs to improve.
He thew an interception in the end zone on their second drive. Not only was it a poor decision to make the throw, but if O'Brien had tucked the ball down and run with it, there is a good chance he would've made it into the end zone himself.
With just under four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, Maryland trailing 24-23, O'Brien showed off his arm, throwing a 52 yard strike to Kevin Dorsey. This was a clutch play, and his pass was on the money. I'd like to see O'Brien air it out in the coming weeks, not only because he has both the strength and accuracy for it, but it should also open up room for the running game.
Rushing and Recieving
Davin Meggett did a good job taking over the sole running back duties as he split time with Da'rel Scott last season.
Meggett rushed for 92 yards on 21 carries, as well as racking up 34 receiving yards out of the backfield. What impressed me the most about Meggett was his field awareness and ability to twist and turn, keeping his legs moving in order to pick up first downs. Although Meggett is by far Maryland's top running back, it will be interesting to see how much they go to him in weeks to come as he has never carried the ball more than 126 times in a season.
The Maryland hurry up style benefited the receivers allowing them to pick up yards after the catch. Kevin Dorsey had eight catches and Quintin McCree had seven. One thing that the Terps receiving core needs to improve on is catching, as Kerry Boykins dropped a pass in the end zone and other receivers also had drops, trying to run up the field on bubble screens before ever possessing the ball.
Although the Maryland defense looked shaky at times, it was Cameron Chism who picked off Stephen Morris and returned it for a touchdown to give Maryland a 32-24 lead in the fourth quarter.
Chism also forced a fumble, recovered by Joe Vellano, who ran it back 30 yards for a touchdown. Maryland's defense gave up a couple big plays on the ground, one being Lamar Miller's 41 yard touchdown run to give Miami a 14-13 lead in the second quarter.
In the third quarter, the Terps lost contain on Morris, allowing the Miami quarterback to run it in from five yards out. Kenny Tate made his transition from safety to linebacker for the Terps, and although he initially did not make a big impact, Tate did intercept Morris on the final play of the game.
Overall, I was impressed with Randy Edsall in his debut for the Terrapins.
He came out with an effective gameplan that set up a number of long drives for the Terps. Going into halftime he stressed that they needed to stop settling for field goals and instead get touchdowns on the board.
However, I did not see those adjustments put into play, and Maryland continued to stall in the red zone. I was impressed with the way he got on Cameron Chism for not going down on his interception return, allowing Miami another chance to win the game. I also liked the energy he showed running down the sideline as Joe Vellano ran back the fumble for a touchdown.
It will be interesting to see if Edsall sticks with the hurry-up offense, taking advantage of bubble screens, or if he mixes it up more in weeks to come.
If you flipped on the TV in the middle of the game you might have thought it were an Under Armour commercial.
Maryland was decked out in one of their many new uniforms, modeled after the Maryland state flag. Although the jerseys may seem a little over the top, it brings attention to Maryland and gives the players, fans and potential recruits something to get excited about.
I look forward to the games to come in which Maryland will continue to mix and match the 32 possible combinations that Under Armor has offered them, including a turtle shell helmet.