Maryland-Boston College Report Card and Helmet Stickers

If you need some hot recap action, ours is here and the more complete but less loving TSN one is here. It was an ugly win, but it was a win. When it's on the road, that's something you never complain about.

QB: Danny O'Brien wasn't perfect. A lot of his throws were behind his receivers. He didn't throw the ball downfield. Almost all of his completions were short and easy. He found his greatest success with short fields. But despite all that, it was one of his best performances of the year. He was poised under pressure, smart with the ball, didn't let the mistakes against Clemson affect him, and, unlike Jamarr Robinson early in the year, made his reads. You could see him go throw his progression on a lot of his passes, and even though that's his strong suit, it's great to see anyway.

I can't remember even a sole attempt at a long ball, which is understandable given the injured status of Maryland's top and only deep threat. He checked down a lot and when he didn't the throws were intermediate at longest, but when that's what's there, take it. My worry was that BC would shut down the run and force DOB to make mistakes; they did the first, but not the second. O'Brien had to beat Boston College, and he did. B+

RB: I want to give an incomplete. Again. I refuse to believe that Davin Meggett and Da'Rel Scott's inability to get any sort of consistent yardage on the ground is their own fault. Unlike past weeks, Maryland didn't abandon the run, giving the two nearly 25 carries. Like past weeks, it didn't do much good: they averaged just 2.4 yards per carry.

That's an issue that has already handcuffed and will continue to do so in the future. O'Brien's looked great, but letting defenses tee off on any QB is a recipe for disaster, especially if that QB's a freshman. It also means shorter drives and more time for the defense on the field, and Maryland's D will be more and more affected by that as the season wears on.

Anyway, the problem seems to come from the OL, which is incapable of opening holes for either of the duo. Again, I don't know how to fix that besides recruiting and coaching better, but it needs to get fixed. Until then, grading the RBs in particular is still the most difficult thing I have to do on Sundays. C+

WR: Torrey Smith's stat line was a double-take for me. 8 catches, 1 TD? Pretty awesome. 34 yards, 4.3 ypc average? Not so awesome.

I've been calling for Smith to be force-fed the ball all year, and I don't really understand why they only started after he got hurt. Maryland's most dangerous player has looked banged-up the past couple of weeks, and his play has mirrored that: he's not a threat on kickoffs and his play on offense is middlin'. Maryland threw him a half dozen WR screens, and he did very little with them. His long on the day? 9 yards. The 8 catches shouldn't be impressive; I'm worried about Smith's health, particularly because he's Maryland's biggest weapon.

Surprisingly, I was moderately impressed elsewhere. The tight ends fell back to earth, Matt Furstenburg in particular, but the receivers picked up the slack. Kerry Boykins, who should be the favorite to start in Adrian Cannon's place, had three catches - including a 21-yarder - plus a TD and a great block on the edge. Ronnie Tyler had five catches, including a TD, and was consistent for the first time all year, maybe in his career. Cannon was force-fed the ball with WR screens, ala Smith, and he likewise was quiet.

Considering that a fair number of throws ended up behind the receiver, I can live with the occasional drop, which there was. Smith was disappointing, but Boykins and Tyler really impressed me by filling the slot admirably. B

OL: Pete DeSouza's absence hurt a little, but not a ton. The most logical choice - moving Paul Pinegar over to tackle and sliding Bennett Fulper up to center - was made, and there were a few positives from it, mostly the lack of holding and procedural penalties that plagued the Terps the past few weeks.

At the same time, DeSouza's strength is in the run game, and Maryland really could've used that (see: RB). And even though O'Brien did a great job of avoiding pressure when it was there, I don't really want him scrambling out of the pocket; it's not his strength. Unfortunately, that did happen quite a bit.

To their credit, the group did seem to do better as time wore on, and I remember many situations where O'Brien had all day to throw. That's a situation where O'Brien's deadly: he's a smart pocket passer that can make his reads, and if you don't pressure him, odds are he'll make a play. When he had time, he almost always did. Boston College isn't a great pass-rushing team, but when Maryland's offensive line looks decent against anyone (and they did at times against BC), I'll take it. C+

DL: Pressure? What pressure? The defensive line continued their struggles in getting to the QB against Boston College; there was one sack on the game, and it came from the secondary. They occasionally got to Chase Rettig only to let him escape and then make a big play - that also happened twice against Kyle Parker and Clemson, and it's a problem. They need to figure out sooner than later how to finish a play. 

It wasn't much better against the run game, where Montel Harris ran for 117 yards on 26 carries. No DL had a tackle for loss, and none really disrupted a Harris run while it was developing. Arguably the best, most notable play of the game for the DL was when Joe Vellano helped out on a tackle that kept Harris short of the first down on 4th and 1.

Admittedly, BC does have a solid offensive line. They're big - ESPN showed a graphic about how they were larger than the New England Patriots' OL - and, for the most part, they're experienced. If you asked me before the game if Maryland's defensive line would get a serious push against these guys, I would've said no.

Still, this is the level of play Maryland's going to see in the ACC. Boston College is a great offense, but they looked okay. When the DL can't get a push and doesn't disrupt the run, that'll happen. C

LB: The linebackers have to share a lot of the blame that the DL takes. They didn't get a lot of pressure on Rettig when they came; they rarely blew up plays in the backfield. Demetrius Hartsfield doesn't help matters; he got nailed on a roughing the passer on a pass that was already a big play. Unlike in weeks past, they didn't make plays.

In the running game, though, they were satisfactory; maybe not much more, but they were at least that. The defensive line gave them little-to-no protection, but Harris rarely got into the secondary; his long of the day was 13, and he only got past eight yards or so once or twice. That's not ideal, of course, but considering that the DL was beaten, the linebackers did a lot of work in limiting the run game.

And I do have to give credit for the standout moments. Even though the myth of Alex Wujciak is undeservedly strong - the play-by-play guy today called him "one of the best on planet" - he did have a crucial PBU and tied Kenny Tate for the lead in tackles (and he actually had more solo tackles than assists this time!). Adrian Moten was surprisingly quiet considering his playmaking history, but he had a big third-down tackle for loss. C+ 

DB: What can you say about the safeties? Kenny Tate was phenomenal; any and all questions about his potential and his ability to fulfill it have been answered. He led Maryland in tackles, forced a fumble on Montel Harris - who had only fumbled four times in his career - and recorded the only sack of the day. It was an All-ACC performance. His counterpart, fellow much-hyped recruit Antwine Perez, came through, too, perhaps even more; he recovered Tate's forced fumble, had two huge interceptions, and was almost as active as Tate in run support. It's a shame that we only get to see these two together for a year; you can see why both were hyped as much as they were.

Cameron Chism continues to struggle, and it's got to be getting frustrating. He got called for two penalties, including a killer pass interference, was beaten at least twice, and his only really big play - a pass break-up on a crucial third down - he was still beaten on, bailed out only by a bad Chase Rettig pass; if it was on target, BC scores on that play and probably wins the game. Dexter McDougle was beaten just as badly on his only play of record, so I don't know what the fix is here, but it's got to be something.

To end on another positive note, is Trenton Hughes the #1 now? Chism is struggling, sure, but Hughes has really owned the #2 spot so far. QBs don't throw to his side of the field often, and the only time I actually remember that happening, he made a great pass break-up. He's got to be challenging Chism for the spot, especially as marquee receivers - like Miami's Leonard Hankerson and Florida State's Bert Reed - start to line up. B+

Special Teams: Why is Torrey Smith still returning kicks? It's clear at this point that he's not healthy, and his offensive production is suffering because of it. Smith was never a glamorous kick returner - the only reason his numbers were so good was the number of kicks he returner - and now that he's injured he's not even an effective one. I hate to say it, but he's the biggest reason Maryland's in dead last in kick return yardage. That's not even mentioning the fact that he's taking an extra two or three hits a game even though he's already injured. Objective #1 for Smith is offensive production, and when that's not happening it's time to shut the other stuff down. Let's be honest: it looks increasingly like he'll be back next year. He'll have chances to break those records later. Like when he's healthy.

Elsewhere, Travis Baltz had a nice rebound game - he hit an easy chipshot FG and was decent on his punts. Nick Ferrara's kickoffs are still short, which to me indicates that he's still a little injured. Tony Logan had a great punt return and was one man away from another touchdown, but he was caught at the last second. Past that, it was a very quiet day on special teams. B-

Coaching: Maryland's coaches had a few bone-headed calls for sure. Passing on 3rd and 1? A bubble screen, at that? The offense wasn't able to score unless they had great field position; the defense couldn't produce pressure on a young QB. Force-feeding the ball to Torrey Smith when he's hurt? What's that about? Prevent defense in the middle of the 4th quarter?

Still, a few bone-headed calls have to be expected at this point. They're not that different from Les Miles, LSU's idiot savant of a head coach. And I'll accept a few of them when the over-arching gameplan works, as it did yesterday. They never abandoned the run, and even though it didn't work, they deserve props for that; letting O'Brien pass and pass would've resulted in some mistakes, and the running game was at least able to burn some clock. I was split on the Robinson Package this time; though there was some strange placement, bringing him and the Flexbone in on 3rd and 1 just seems like a natural fit, so I have to give props there.

The defense couldn't stop Montel Harris on the ground, but got bailed out by their lead that forced BC to be more aggressive, which isn't their strong suit. They seemed more content to sit back and let BC either run the ball when losing for 5 yards a carry or have to rely on Rettig against a full secondary. They got lucky a few times with Rettig, but even though there should've been more pressure, they don't make much progress if not for Maryland helping out with penalties.

Most importantly, the team never went flat. After last week against Clemson, that's a minor miracle. The staff didn't do any out-foxing yesterday, but the gameplan was coherent and its execution was good enough. To some extent, the defense was waiting for mistakes, and they got them. That's a little lucky, but it worked. It's not a job-saver, but it's improvement. B-

Helmet Stickers:

  • Danny O'Brien, QB: What's not to love? DOB didn't make any mistakes, threw a few strikes, and was efficient; all that despite Maryland's inability to take the pressure off of him with the run.
  • Kenny Tate, S: Don't worry, Perez will get his. Tate led Maryland in tackles, had the only sack on the day, and forced a fumble on a guy that doesn't fumble. He's a star in the making.
  • Tony Logan, PR: Logan bounced off an early tackle in his lone big punt return of 32 yards, setting up Maryland on BC's side of the field for their first TD.
  • Antwine Perez, S: Three turnovers, plus a tackle for loss. Showtwine.
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