As far as wins go, this was about as unimpressive as it gets. I said it in the recap, and stand by it: Maryland didn't really deserve to win this game.
QB: Danny O'Brien has a lot of leeway; he's a redshirt freshman making his second start, after all. He's not supposed to be awesome. And last night, he wasn't. In fact, he was pretty bad.
O'Brien went 9-26 for 170 yards. If you're wondering, 9-26 is a a 34% completion percentage, and yeah, that's bad. Outside of his 44-yarder to Torrey Smith, all of his long throws were overthrown, and most of his short/intermediate throws missed the mark. He doesn't hold the blame alone - the offensive line was beat up and the receivers dropped a few - but he didn't look as good as he did against FIU and Morgan State. Maryland's offense punted on 9 of their 11 possessions, and that's something I truly didn't expect from a Danny-led offense.
He did have his moments, notably the Smith throw and the time he checked down to Da'Rel Scott - his third or fourth option on the play. And hey, he didn't throw an interception. If he's going to complete a third of his passes, it's a good thing none are to the other team, and it's better than the past few Jamarr Robinson outings. Maryland's lack of mistakes was a big reason they won.
I'm not surprised, or terribly upset, that he had this type of performance. He's young; it comes with the territory. He's still the starter, but I won't be surprised or upset when Jamarr Robinson sees the field some against Clemson, even if only to see where he's at. This book isn't closed, not yet. C
RB: Da'Rel Scott keep saving his stat line, and carries, with one play. Against FIU, it was the long touchdown rush. This week, it was the 71-yard reception from O'Brien, after which he broke three tackles and got into the end zone. It makes his 50 yards on 14 carries look a lot better.
Davin Meggett didn't have that play this week, and his stat line shows it: 18 carries and 57 yards. Neither back looked good. Maryland's still struggling on the ground, and they averaged just 3.2 yards per carry on their 124 yards; Duke was allowing, on average, over 200 a game. A lot of that falls on the offensive line, but I don't remember much in the way of broken tackles or great cuts. C+
WR: Torrey Smith was hurt, and it showed. Outside of his long 44-yard reception, he was targeted only three more times that I remember, and served more as a decoy than anything else. It was Adrian Cannon that was asked to be the #1 target (he had five targets in the first two drives, which is way more than Smith gets when he's healthy), and didn't really look the part. He caught three passes, but only had 22 yards and really didn't make an impact.
Ronnie Tyler was pretty much invisible. LaQuan Williams dropped two passes; one was behind him and tough to blame him for, but the other he should've had. Kevin Dorsey had his name called once: a holding penalty on a first down.
The tight ends weren't much better; Dave Stinebaugh had one catch, and none of the others saw the box score. Will Yeatman, for the record, did see the field, finally. As far as a unit, not a lot happened, but outside of the 44-yard reception, what did happen wasn't great. C
OL: Yikes. Danny O'Brien's wholly unexpected escapability saved Maryland from at least three or four sacks, if not more. He was often pressured, and that had to affect his stat line. And the running game was just as bad, thanks in large part to the lack of holes that Scott and Meggett had to run through. We know what they can do when they do get space, and it was obvious they didn't have it last night.
Pete DeSouza was particularly bad. He got burnt at least three times, probably more, and looked ridiculously out of his element. He's a moderately talented guy with a lot of upside, but he's been supremely unimpressive in his past two games, especially the last one. I'm fairly certain that Paul Pinegar replaced him at RT and Bennett Fulper moved over to center, and it was a big reason why the pressure seemed to subside later in the game. That needs to be done permanently, and should've been done from the start.
Other than that, not a lot to say. DeSouza's performance hurt a lot, but he is a part of the unit, after all. C
DL: Getting pressure on Sean Renfree was darn near impossible, and it hurt. Giving a guy like Renfree time to throw, especially when bringing five or more, is poison. He lit Maryland up, and a lot of it was because he rarely had to fear pressure.
Renfree was sacked six times - three times by Joe Vellano, who continued his dominant breakout performance - but he dropped back 56 times. Other than those six drop backs, plus two missed sacks and another two when Renfree had serious pressure, he had, for the most part, all day to throw. You can't give someone 46 unpressured attempts.
For the record, they did do a great job of shutting down Duke's run game. I wasn't sold on it in the first place, and it looked pretty bad last night. They combined for just 48 yards on two carries, and limited starter Desmond Scott to 2.1 yards per carry. That, plus Vellano's three sacks, bring the DL's grade up ever so slightly. C+
LB: I'm still left wondering why on earth Don Brown sticks linebackers on wide receivers, because this is the third straight week it's happened and Maryland's gotten burned. I know the linebackers have to cover someone, but why not the running back or tight end? When you put Alex Wujciak on Donovan Varner, you're asking to be burned. I refuse to blame the LBs for not being to stick with athletic WRs, even though that was one of the biggest reasons Duke did so well in the passing game.
Otherwise, it wasn't a bad day from the group. Wujciak actually broke up two passes; Demetrius Hartsfield did, too. Both were very quiet other than that and got beaten once or twice in coverage, but that's really more a schematic problem than a personnel one. The biggest problem came when they brought pressure and didn't get to the QB, which, of course, happened more than I would've liked.
Oh, and not that I haven't said it the past two weeks, but Adrian Moten really is the best linebacker on this team. Wujciak is good, but Moten had just as many tackles plus another interception and a sack. Was very impressed by him (again, coverage notwithstanding). B
DB: Most of the passing problems are laid on the entire defense, not any group in particular, because they couldn't pressure Renfree and Don Brown's schemes were...weird. But the corners had a very rough day.
Cameron Chism got picked on. He broke up a pass, but other than that he didn't do much to make Renfree stop looking his way. When Renfree did look elsewhere, it was to Trenton Hughes' side, and he got beaten a few times, too.
Now, schematically, it's a lot to ask six guys to drop back in coverage, especially when giving a huge cushion, and defend a passing attack like Duke when the five guys blitzing can't get to the QB. But it doesn't excuse of the some stuff that happened, namely a 4th and 19 where Maryland rushed three and Duke still got someone wide open at the 2-yard-line behind the entire defense. I know all they're looking to do there is keep Duke from getting 19 yards, but someone had to realize this guy was floating into the end zone, right?
Antwine Perez and Kenny Tate got a lot of love for the plays they did make - Perez's interception and couple of pass break-ups, Tate's two sacks - but they aren't faultless in the lack of pass defense, either. Still, they did make big plays that changed the make-up of the game, and they do help the grade. C+
Special Teams: Normally when Maryland has a "dangerous" option, like Torrey Smith or Darius Heyward-Bey, they only have a big play every once and awhile. It's nothing you can set your watch to; they aren't like the Rodgers brothers at Oregon State or C.J. Spiller at Clemson last year. But Tony Logan? That's another story.
He's the next Steve Suter, and is just as electric as, if not moreso, his predecessor. His agility, speed, quickness, and vision just seem so far above and beyond what Maryland normally has that it's shocking. Think Devin Hester, or James Rodgers of Oregon State; if you're just flipping through channels and see him returning a punt, there's a very good chance he'll take it to the house. Just unbelievable.
Elsewhere, Travis Baltz had a solid, unspectacular outing. He didn't crush the ball and one of his punts was far too low and line drive-y, which Duke's punt returner unsurprisingly ran back 33 yards. But he also stuck the ball at the one once and inside the 20 4 times. Wasn't his best game, but wasn't anything too damning.
My only qualm comes in the fact that Torrey Smith returned kicks for the first half. He'd run the ball back, oh, 15 yards, get tackled, and walk to the sideline with a visible, if slight, limp. And it happened more than once. Who thought it was a good idea to do that?
Still, Logan is good enough to make that not matter. After all, special teams are why Maryland won this game. A
Coaching: For once, I wasn't terribly unimpressed with the playcalling; James Franklin was actually somewhat sensible about it. There were some plays I personally wouldn't have called, but seriously, it could've been a lot worse. And to be honest, I'm not sure if any plays would've worked with the team Maryland had out there last night.
Defensively, it wasn't quite the same; when you blitz a guy like Renfree, you have to get to him. Maryland didn't. A lot of the Terrapins' struggles fall on Don Brown's scheme, both in coverage and in blitz packages. Duke has a good offense, but not that good.
The real problem is in Maryland's apathy and lack of preparation again. This is the third time it's happened, and it's just killing the Terps. This game should've been over in the first quarter, and if Duke was better Maryland would've have had a shot. They got lucky this time, but they need to change a lot in the way they start games. C
- Da'Rel Scott, RB: That 71-yard touchdown catch was all him. He broke three tackles and his speed made sure that those were the only three guys with a chance at him.
- Adrian Moten, LB: Was active, and had a huge interception to stymie a potential Duke scoring drive.
- Tony Logan, PR: 'Nuff said.
- Antwine Perez, S: Combined with Alex Wucjiak to break up Duke's final pass, and had an interception at the goal line.