I'm still in shock, but the happy kind of shock. And in case you're wondering, these grades won't be filled with Ds!
Chris Turner was a lot of things Saturday. He was efficient, with only five incompletions. He was safe, with no turnovers. He led Maryland in carries and was the worst in yards per. What he was not was extreme. He wasn't particularly bad (no turnovers), nor was he outstandingly good (only 215 yards, just 19 completions). But that's exactly what Maryland needed - Turner doesn't need to, and shouldn't, be this offense, nor this team. If he can play like he did yesterday - efficient, a big play or two, no turnovers - Maryland will be much more competitive the rest of the year than they were the last four games.
It's tough to grade a performance that was so sparse. After all, Davin Meggett led the backs with just ten carries. But, scaling it, it wasn't a great day for the stable of backs at Maryland's disposal. Meggett is yet to have a good game this year - maybe he should switch back to #48. Da'Rel Scott, sadly, broke his wrist early in the game and will likely be done the rest of the year, so his contribution was limited. Gary Douglas continued to increase his playing time, and didn't look too bad.
This is supposed to be a grades post, but here's a prediction: by the end of the year, Gary Douglas will start over Davin Meggett. I like Megs, but he's looked really bad this year, and I'm afraid of letting him be the man at RB. Also, expect to see D.J. Adams before the end of the year.
This is still easily the strength of the team. Torrey Smith still doesn't get the ball enough as the game wears on (four catches again?), but he makes the most of his opportunities. Adrian Cannon is no slouch, either. Ronnie Tyler had some trouble making the routine catch again, which is why this isn't an A, but he came up big a couple times and is an essential part of this group. Scarily, they haven't even scratched the surface of the massive amounts of talent below those three. There probably isn't a better WR corps in the ACC.
The offensive line wasn't really that good, but consider who they were going up against - Da'Quan Bowers and Ricky Sapp are really, really good defensive ends. It's clear that the line broke down without Bruce Campbell at the end of the game; Clemson ends were getting by Pinegar at LT with ease, and Turner was under pressure basically every time he dropped back. Just hope his injury isn't serious.
But when Campbell was in the game, the line looked okay. Not good, but okay. They didn't let a superior defensive line dominate them, though they didn't exactly win the battle. They're improving, which is the good part.
Still working on getting the right combination out there, but this isn't the Cal game DL. C.J. Spiller is just as dangerous as Jahvid Best, and they contained him most of the day - improvement is happening. They're also benefiting from the great play of the linebackers and safeties, without whom they probably wouldn't be afforded the opportunity to develop.
A.J. Francis and Travis Ivey are both looking like ACC starters - finally. I can't yet say the same for Jared Harrell, Deege Galt, or Isaiah Ross, but they, too, are getting better every snap. This line doesn't need to be amazing; they just need to be good enough to allow the linebackers and DBs to do their job, and that's how good they were yesterday.
The linebackers were every bit as intstrumental in containing Spiller as the line was. They kept him in check as soon as he got to the second level (which was, admittedly, often). All three - Alex Wujciak, Adrian Moten, and Demetrius Hartsfield - were solid, but Hartsfield was the best of them. He stayed disciplined, led the team in tackles, and had the awesome sack, strip, and fumble recovery on the second-to-last play of the game. Best performance by this group since the start of the year.
Clemson is by no means a passing team, but 22-40 and 193 yards is a great defensive performance no matter how you slice it. Cameron Chism looked good, maybe even #1 worthy, while Anthony Wiseman had his first solid game all year. The safeties were equally as good: Kenny Tate absolutely demolished Kyle Parker on a sack, Jamari McCollough had the big interception, and Terrell Skinner was all over the field.
That's not to say they were perfect. Chism got called on a pass interference that he should've been able to avoid, and Tate still made some reckless mistakes, like the facemask. All in all, though, it was a solid day from a group that had been yet to show that type of promise.
Special Teams: B
Nick Ferrara is the kicker of the year. Lock it up right now.
Ok, maybe not, but that was an amazing job yesterday. He looked great both kicking and punting, not an easy thing to do for anyone, let alone a freshman.
Also, I think we found our punt returner. Tony Logan is a natural back there and it's a shame he hasn't been returning punts in favor of Wiseman and Tate.
The only negative was a huge one: C.J. Spiller's kickoff return for a TD. It was flukey, but when four players are on a guy, you have to find a way to bring him down.
If Maryland loses this game, the 4th and 1 call gets rehashed and rehashed and rehashed, as it should've been. That was a really bad decision that could've lost Maryland the game.
Other than that, it wasn't a terrible game for the coaching staff. The playcalling wasn't amazing, but it was definitely better than Clemson's, and props to Ralph Friedgen for icing the kicker - twice.
- Chris Turner, QB - He wasn't amazing, but he rebounded admirably from a very tough game. No turnovers, 200+ yards passing, 2 TDs = exactly what Maryland needs from Turner every game.
- Demetrius Hartsfield, LB - Probably the MVP of the game, Hartsfield led the team in tackles and secured the win with a sack, strip, and fumble recovery.
- Nick Ferrara, K/P - If Hartsfield isn't the MVP, Ferrara is. Outstanding job.
- Torrey Smith, WR - Still Maryland's best player, and the TD reception showed why. Also, still needs to get the ball more.