What happened to the University of Maryland football team that opened the season again the Miami Hurricanes on ESPN? The Terps’ electric uniforms captured the media’s, and LeBron James’, attention. Lackadaisical performances in defeats against West Virginia and Temple have killed any resulting momentum from the team’s debut.
For Maryland fans, the hope is that Randy Edsall and company can rekindle the energy evident in the team’s season opening victory over the Hurricanes.
Considering that Maryland’s next three opponents are all ranked in the AP Top 25 (No. 21 Georgia Tech, No. 15 Clemson, and No. 23 Florida State) the Terps cannot afford to waste any time if they plan on returning to their winning ways.
Maryland’s 28-3 victory over Towson this past Saturday was a step in the right direction. Sure, Towson plays in the FCS. Sure, the Terps were only winning 7-3 at halftime. And sure, Maryland’s offensive line averaged about 20 pounds more than Towson’s.
True, the Terps walked off the field on Saturday with something left to be desired. With that said, the youthful Terrapins (21 players on Maryland’s two-deep are either freshmen or sophomores) were the beneficiaries of a much needed confidence booster in the form of the Towson Tigers.
Coming off of Saturday’s victory, here are four keys for the Terps to get back to their winning ways.
Danny O’Brien has averaged 46 attempts in the first two games and only 27 attempts in the past two games. Though Maryland has won a game and lost a game in both circumstances, the offense began the season slinging the ball downfield without an obvious game plan. Quick possessions also wore down the Terrapin defense.
Since Maryland’s attack appeared on ESPN in Week 1, teams have made adjustments to limit O’Brien’s success downfield. The Terrapins offense must be more deliberate and choose their spots. Although Danny O’Brien has moments in which he appears to be one of the top quarterbacks in the country, he has others in which he reminds fans that he is still just a sophomore.
Thirty pass attempts will provide O’Brien plenty of opportunity to air the ball out, while also better protecting him from multi-interception performances (like his three interception game on 52 attempts against West Virginia).
Four of Five Maryland interceptions on the year have come in victories against Miami and Towson. Simply, when the University of Maryland's secondary can get their hands of the ball—they win. Forced turnovers keep the offensive on the field and put points on the board.
This year, Maryland has averaged 4.4 yards/carry against Miami, 5.4 yards against West Virginia, only two yards against Temple, and 5.4 against Towson. The Terps ran the ball 34 or more times in all of those games, with the exception of their dismal performance against Temple (23 times).
While it should be noted that the Terps were playing from behind almost immediately against Temple, the offense failed to establish the run from the outset.
The offense must continue to place the ball in the hands of Doak Walker Award Candidate Dave Meggett.
The Maryland defense must showcase the talents of their star player, Kenny Tate (a returning all-ACC first teamer). Tate, who transitioned from safety to star position ( a deep linebacker) this season, has been slow in Maryland’s losses.
Tate is averaging 7.5 tackles/game in defeat and 10 tackles/game in victories. He is fourth on the team in tackles and he leads the team in interceptions. Tate, as one of the best players in the nation, is a playmaker. When given the responsibility, he is proven that he has what it takes to answer the call.
The Terps, as a young team, must rely more upon senior leaders Dave Meggett and Kenny Tate more heavily, force turnovers, and limit Danny O’Brien’s passing attempts.