Maryland-West Virginia Report Card and Helmet Stickers

QB: Really, this is a tale of two halves. Robinson was so bad that I thought his game was done after the first drive, and if wasn't for Danny O'Brien's injury it probably would've been. The first half was a very poor outing; he looked shaky in the pocket and didn't have any sort of confidence.

The second half, of course, was a different story. The moral of yesterday's game: let Jamarr chuck the ball deep. He's got the arm strength to get the ball down the field and Torrey Smith is dangerous enough to make defenders pay. First the two connected on a 60-yard bomb; then it was an 80-yarder.

Robinson never looked great, but you could tell the difference between pre-TD and post-TD; he looked more confident and more decisive. Sure, some of those decisions were bad, but by the end of the game, he pretty well figured out when to run, when to pass, and who to pass to.

He still needs to work on evading sacks, which he simply forfeited at times, and his stat line wasn't great - 13-24, 227 yards -  but I now have hope that Jamarr is an ACC-level starter. The controversy might not be over, but it's a little settled. B-

RB: Eh. After two absolutely outstanding games, Maryland had a throwback to last year. James Franklin absolutely refused to run the ball for whatever reason - Davin Meggett and Da'Rel Scott combined for just 13 carries, a total that would be disappointing for just one of them - and the offensive line couldn't open up any holes. I still believe that the future of this team lies in the running backs, but it wasn't their best performance.

Once Maryland got into a bit of a rhythm, Meggett and Scott got into a rhythm with them, with a few decent-length runs were the result. Plus, Scott proved himself as a solid pass-catching presence, grabbing three receptions and two first downs. But the job of running backs is to run, and they didn't. Ultimately, you can only blame them so much when the line refuses to open lines, but we can only grade what we see. C

WR: Ahem. Torrey Smith. Torrey Smith. Torrey Smith. Torrey Smith.

That's basically all you need to know. Yeah, Adrian Cannon had three grabs, and Quintin McCree, LaQuan Williams, and Kerry Boykins all pitched in one, but Smith is the star. More on him is coming tomorrow, but it's about time the offense looked his way: his statline was 3 catches, 149 yards, two TDs. That's "throw him the ball every play" good.

In fact, you can basically say that Smith was Maryland's offense. Both of the TDs were 60+ yard throws, and both were mostly Torrey's doing. He needs to get involved way more than he has been in these first few games, and it's a shame that it took this type of performance for people (and, hopefully, coaches) to realize it. B+

OL: Okay, let's be fair: Justin Gilbert was hurt, and he was replaced by Pete DeSouza, a redshirt freshman making his first real appearance. You could tell, too.

But any way you look at it, this offensive line looked a lot like last year's OL, and that's not good. Never before has a Ralph Friedgen-led team given up eight sacks. Eight sacks. Oh, and by the way, West Virginia hadn't recorded a sack all season before yesterday. Some of that can be landed on Robinson, but the inexperience and ineptitude of the line was the main culprit here.

It got little better in the running game. Holes were virtually non-existent, and that severely altered Maryland's balance. That's not even mentioning the dozens of holding and false start penalties. I can't really remember a positive performance, but DeSouza looked severely out of place in his first game. He's talented, but this was the worst possible game for him to make his virtual debut in. D

DL: The DL had their moments. Zach Kerr looked really good for once, and in the second half there were times that West Virginia couldn't really do anything offensively.

But for the most part, there was minimal push from the front four. Maryland blitzed seven occasionally and still didn't get a lot of pressure on Geno Smith, at least not until the second half. I can't remember A.J. Francis, Drew Gloster, or even Joe Vellano making a single play, except for Vellano's blatant facemask.

Noel Devine was somewhat limited - just a 4.9 ypc average - but he had his fair share of gashing runs, and a lot of that falls on the DL. Even more important was that Smith had all day to throw on a solid half of his attempts. Again, this looked like last year's bunch. C-

LB: I've never really come to a consensus on Alex Wujciak. Sure, he racks up tackles at a ridiculous pace and seems to always been in the right position, but his lack of speed is painful and he often takes really bad angles. Yesterday's game didn't help.

He had a solid 9 solo tackles and forced one of West Virginia's fumbles, but he also missed a few crucial tackles and was idiotically matched up against Austin one-on-one a few times. That's a battle he had no shot at winning. He's not as good as a lot of people think, but he's still one of the better inside linebackers around. That said, I won't mind have a faster guy, like David Mackall, next year.

Elsewhere, Adrian Moten and Demetrius Hartsfield were the definition of average. Moten had a sack; Hartsfield recovered a fumble. Both missed a couple of tackles. Darin Drakeford looked pretty good, and destroyed Smith once on a sack to force a fumble in the red zone. That said, no one really does their job when the other team puts up 400+ total yards. C

DB: Well, Kenny Tate has legitimized himself nicely, no? Sure, the playcall that led to Tate's interception was among the dumbest of the game (in a match between Bill Stewart and Ralph Friedgen/Franklin, that's saying something), but Tate made the catch and even ran it back 53 yards before very wisely going down to avoid a fumble. It was just perfect.

Tate was generally active on the day. Outside of the three linebackers, he was the defense's leading tackler. Smith did throw four TDs, but I never really saw Tate himself out of position. He seems like the real deal. Antwine Perez, his counterpart at safety, didn't have Tate's big play, though he did make a nice tackle or two.

The corners, though, failed miserably, and it's tough to grade the secondary when the two components that make it up were so different. Dexter McDougle got burnt; Trenton Hughes committed a bad pass interference; Michael Carter was matched up against Austin in the first quarter and got toasted. On more than one occasion, there were receivers that were simply uncovered or open due to poor coverage. I'm not so naive to believe that the safeties or linebackers might not've been at fault there, but it certainly didn't seem that way most of the time.

Tate brings up this grade, and Perez keeps it afloat, but there's only so much you can do when the corners did that. C+

Special Teams: Travis Baltz has officially taken rightful claim to the title of MVP Punter. Not only did he knock home a field goal while filling in for Nick Ferrara again, but he also averaged 45 yards/punt and landed four of his seven inside the 20. The awful coverage on Jock Sanders' 66 yard return probably killed his net average, but he's a great punter.

Torrey Smith and Tony Logan didn't look quite as good as they have in the past; neither really did anything in the return game. But they also didn't make any mistakes, and until they prove that they're inept you can chalk it up to a bad day. Baltz alone makes this group's performance acceptable. B-

Coaching: Prepare for a rant.

I don't really care about the second-half comeback, or about the occasional playcall that worked. Maryland was flat, unfocused, and unprepared in the first half, and it was blatantly obvious. That's on the coaches. Any first-half performance that bad is almost unforgivable. Had it been just one player, the story might've been different, but it was every single player that looked bad for the first half, and that's unacceptable.

Oh, and the decision to play Danny O'Brien at the end of the first half would've made Wade Phillips cringe. With less than a minute left, no timeouts, and the ball on their own 40, was Maryland really going to score there? With a one-legged QB, no less? O'Brien did the predictable, got clobbered, and re-injured his ankle, ending what was at the time the one hope fans had. And if Jamarr Robinson gets hurt against FIU, all hell breaks lose.

And then we have to ask about Don Brown's consistent blitzing, even on third and longs. Why Brown thought it was a good idea to line up Alex Wucjiak on Tavon Austin, or even draw up a scheme where that could happen even just once, is beyond me. Had Maryland not blitzed seven or eight on 3rd-and-longs - or, at all - some of those big plays might've been avoided. After all, it's not like Maryland constantly pressured Smith all game long; getting in the backfield was pretty rare, though it happened a little toward the end of the game.

And we have to bring up James Franklin's playcalling...again. Yep, he called a QB keeper to the short side of the field on 3rd and six. Oh, and on 3rd and 3 Maryland passed...then had to go for it and passed again. I know Maryland's had their problems with running, but if you know you're in four down territory, it makes a lot of sense to run the ball on that 3rd down.

And I also need to ask about why Torrey Smith was targeted so little. There were five passes that headed his way; one was overthrown, one was dropped, and two were TDs. The man is a machine, and WVU was missing their starting CB. That should be a match-up problem taken advantage of all day.

I'm done. D-

Helmet Stickers:

  • Torrey Smith, WR: Duh. He basically was Maryland's offense all day, and he only had three catches. It boggles the mind.
  • Kenny Tate, S: Looked like the best player on the defense, bar none. He really has arrived.
  • Travis Baltz, P: It's now a weekly feature to have Baltz in here.
  • Darin Drakeford, LB: Drakeford didn't get nearly enough credit today. He was outstanding. 4 tackles - all solo - 3 tackles for loss, and a demolishing sack on Geno Smith that saved a TD and kept Maryland in the game, relatively speaking. A linebacking corps of Drakeford, Mackall, and Hartsfield looks very appetizing.
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