Ready to make some knee-jerk judgments? I know I am.
Chris Turner was solid but unspectacular. Even though most of the completions were short WR bubble screens, it's tough to complain about 25-38 for 236 yards. Even better, he's proving that he can be a solid running QB, with a 4 yard average and a hard-fought TD run. If it wasn't for an awfully thrown pick six into triple coverage, this is probably an A-. Other than that play, Turner had a nice game.
This is always a difficult position to grade when the offensive line is bad. Do we blame the running backs for only coming up with 73 yard on the ground? Or does the blame get placed on the offensive line, who opened up very few holes for said backs? It's even tougher when the majority of plays were passes. That said, with what the backs had to work with, it wasn't a bad performance. In the second half, both basically disappeared, but that was more James Franklin's playcalling than their actual play.
Da'Rel Scott had a solid OT, which gave the grade a boost. Davin Meggett needs holes to be effective, and they weren't there last night, which is why his stats are worse than normal. Actually, the duo might've had more of an impact in the passing game than the running game - Scott converted a crucial 3rd and 15 off a screen pass, while Meggett dropped a big third and six. Stats-wise, this would normally be a C performance, but the offensive line's invisibility makes it a B-.
It's clear this is the biggest strength of the team. Torrey Smith had 8 catches for 80 yards plus 22 yards and a TD on the ground. Adrian Cannon had 5 catches and a 27 yard TD. Ronnie Tyler had a huge 20 yarder on 4th and 4 in the 4th quarter, and Cannon had his TD on the next play. All three starters turned in phenomenal performances. The only negative on the night was a possibly disastrous dropped 3rd down pass by Tyler. There was no one within five yards of him and the ball hit him in the hands. If not for that one play, this is A or even A+ performance.
On the good side, there was only one sack today. It was also clear that they performed better as time went on - at the end of the game, JMU's undersized DL simply didn't have the energy to stand up against the larger Terps front. During the final few drives and overtime, they started to open up some holes and give Chris Turner time to make throws. Of course, they were pushed around by that smaller line most of the game, but beggars can't be choosers.
As for individual players, I saw a lot of Justin Lewis and Lamar Young at guard out there, and both did a decent job. They actually looked like they could be the permanent guards. Paul Pinegar wasn't bad at LT, either. But really, the grade tells you everything you need to know: this group still isn't up to snuff.
Yep, Maryland's pretty awful in the trenches. No sacks. No penetration. 268 yards given up on the ground. Most of the blame goes to the defensive line, who was completely invisible and got manhandled by a smaller, less athletic offensive line. It was still better than the Cal game, but like the offensive linemen, they aren't at an ACC level yet.
Derek Drummond and Deege Galt didn't impress me at DE, and I'm wondering how long they'll last. Jared Harrell looked good, though, and Travis Ivey also had a couple of nice tackles. Isaiah Ross made a tackle in his first play ever, and he might start seeing time instead of Galt or Drummond. Again like the offensive line, they have some slivers of hope, but still need improvement.
The LBs are kind of like the RBs: they're tough to grade because they have no protection from the line. Still, there were a lot of plays that should've been made that weren't. Demetrius Hartsfield missed a number of tackles on Dudzik. Alex Wujciak was 50-50 - he made a few huge stops, like one on Drew Dudzik in overtime, but also showed his lack of athleticism and looked slow in comparison to JMU's athletes. On the good side, Adrian Moten looked great and was all over the field.
There's a reason Wujciak was All-ACC and there's a reason Hartsfield got a lot of hype. They're good players, but they haven't been showing it yet. I wouldn't panic about them or make any changes, but they should be playing better.
Dudzik and James Madison don't pass much. They're a running team, as evidenced by attempting only 19 passes. Of course, ten of those were completed. Neither the corners nor the safeties looked good against the pass - Kenny Tate got beat deep a few times and Anthony Wiseman still doesn't look good enough to be a #1 corner. Dudzik was great - an ACC secondary shouldn't let an FCS QB making his first start play as well as he did. On the plus side, Cam Chism was solid filling in for Nolan Carroll, and almost had an interception.
Run support was solid for the most part, especially later in the game. No huge runs were given up. Tate looked particularly good against the run. Chism actually made a couple big stops after coming in for Carroll, too.
If not for special teams, Maryland doesn't win this game. Torrey Smith's TD and Nick Ferrara's clutch FG were instrumental in the win. If that was all there was, they would've had an A. But Kenny Tate had a killer fumble on a punt return - he'll probably never be seeing the field as a PR again - and kick coverage was awful. Still, give Smith and Ferrara credit.
Helmet Stickers: Never done this before, but here's the rules: the four best players on the night, one offensive, one defensive, one ST, and one of my choice. Pretty basic, right?
- Chris Turner, QB: No, he wasn't outstanding, but he's the QB and got the job done. Outside of one play, his decision-making was great and he looked like a leader in the comeback. Can't ask for much more.
- Adrian Moten, LB: He was all over the field and might've had double-digit tackles.
- Nick Ferrara, K: First pressure test: passed. He could be a good one.
- Torrey Smith, WR/KR: You had to have known it was coming. Smith had an excellent game yesterday both on offense and special teams, with two touchdowns and 8 catches.