Maryland Falls to Clemson in Death Valley, 31-7

There was some good in Maryland's 31-7 loss to Clemson. The Terrapins outgained the Tigers by more than 100 yards. Danny O'Brien entered "star-in-making" territory for a brief period. The Terps' defense did a great job to limit the Tigers' offense, limiting them to one sustained drive on the day. Heck, Maryland even matched Clemson's time of possession. And the Terps still ended up losing big and being outplayed.

Maryland falls to 4-2 on the season and 1-1 in the ACC. Clemson, meantime, picks up their first ACC win and gets to .500 at 3-3. (Don't let the record fool you; they had close losses to Auburn, Miami, and UNC).

Maryland's first real offensive bursts came on an 81-yard drive that ended in a trick play: a halfback pass from Da'Rel Scott to Danny O'Brien, who was open in the end zone. That gave the Terps a 7-3 lead, and came after Maryland's defense had shut down the Tigers twice.

Unfortunately, the Tigers answered with an 84-yard touchdown return from Andre Ellington. Maryland responded with another long drive of their own, but Travis Baltz missed the 33-yard field goal attempt. Clemson scored on the ensuing drive, giving the Tigers a 17-7 lead heading into half. Conceivably, Maryland could've been winning 14-10; instead, they were down 10.

The second half was, for the most part, devoid of positivity for Maryland; the Terps didn't even enter the red zone a single time. Jaron Brown returning a punt 41 yard for the Tigers into Maryland's red zone, which set up a 1-yard Ellington TD plunge, didn't help matters. O'Brien threw three interceptions late in the game, and one of them was returned by Xavier Brewer for a touchdown, giving the final margin.

The most damning offensive problem came in Maryland's inability to block Clemson's star defensive end, Da'Quan Bowers. He had three sacks on the day and pressured O'Brien countless times. The good news is that Bowers is a top-flight DE, and that problem won't easily be reproduced. Also disappointing was the lack of a running game presence for Maryland; the Terps should've tried to run as much as possible, considering the Tigers' track record there, but ran it fewer than 20 times and picked up fewer than 50 yards on the ground. 

O'Brien was nearly flawless in the first half, going 13-19 for 159 yards and catching a TD. His second half was up-and-down, including his first three interceptions of his career. That said, he showcased some surprising mobility and, considering the constant pressure he was under, he was more poised than expected. He was obviously shaken late in the game, but that's to be expected.

Taylor Watson and Will Yeatman's performances are both worth mentioning. Both have been injured for most of the early part of the season, but Watson picked up two first downs early and Yeatman had three catches on Maryland's lone scoring drive.

Defensively, all you can say is that Maryland was solid, even if they weren't play-making or spectacular. Clemson was kept under 100 yards on the ground, and under 150 yards through the air. Those are two magic numbers for a defense, and it's tough to complain about how they performed.

Special teams might've been the worst unit for Maryland; neither Tony Logan nor Torrey Smith provided a big return, Baltz missed his field goal, the punting was worse than what we've come to expect, and Clemson had two returns that either was a TD or directly resulted in one. Yikes.

I'll get more into performances, coaching (3rd and 1?) and more with the grades tomorrow morning. But do you have any early reactions or thoughts? It was undeniably a rough game to watch.

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