Virginia Cavaliers 31, Maryland Terrapins 13: Stock Report and Helmet Stickers

Recap is here

Stock Up

Joe Vellano. Big Joe continues to make a huge impact in just about every game he's in. He had 10 tackles, six of them solo, and he had a critical fourth-down stop when the game was still in doubt. There should be some legitimate award buzz for him right now, and there probably will be next year.

Darin Drakeford. Forced a fumble, intercepted a pass, and had 11 tackles. Best game of Drake's career?

Eric Franklin. He's done a bang-up job replacing Matt Robinson as "The Guy in the Secondary Who Has to Make All the Downfield Tackles." Led all players with 12 tackles, and 10 of those were solo stops. He was asked to do a lot and he wasn't perfect, but when you consider how much responsibility he had you feel a bit better about his performance.

Dexter McDougle. He, like everyone else in Maryland's secondary, was beaten occasionally, but McDougle pitched in with a pass break-up and two impressive tackling displays. The first came when he was the field corner who was isolated on a screen pass with Darius Jennings, and he made a great open-field tackle to get the freshman behind the line for a four-yard loss. The other was an uncredited play that still struck me: Perry Jones was running behind a wide receiver who was occupying McDougle. Dex threw himself low at the receiver, who ended up toppling, and disrupted Perry's run enough to give a linebacker a chance to get over and make the tackle. Maryland's been missing physicality like that all year long.

Davin Meggett. As I've said several times in the past, Davin is being criminally underused this year. He broke off the 42-yard run that led to Maryland's only touchdown, and he still does a great job of running through contact and falling forward. Only getting nine carries - on his senior day, no less - is, frankly, a bit ridiculous. I'm a Justus Pickett fan, but did his 2.2 ypc average warrant the 6 carries he got that didn't go to Meggett? 

Kerry Boykins. Boykins did drop a pass, but really, who hasn't for Maryland this year? (Answer: no one. Literally.) He also had six receptions and 101 yards, emerging as a bona fide, legitimate ACC receiving option. It's the second-straight strong game he's had.

Devonte Campbell. Campbell has two receptions on the year - both came from C.J. Brown, and both were touchdowns.

The first-half quarterback rotation. This is how a two-QB system should work. O'Brien started, Brown came in as a change-of-pace and scored a touchdown, then O'Brien came back in. (Albeit a drive too late). He appeared to settle down (he did the same against Towson, by the way) and led another field goal drive that was almost a touchdown. Maryland should be utilizing both, and that's an acceptable way to do it.

Hold

Danny O'Brien. When we saw Danny play early in the game, I thought he was better than we'd seen him perform all year. He was testing the deep ball with great accuracy, seemed alert, didn't make many mistakes, and most of all showed off a part of his arm that I think everyone's been missing with his extraordinary arm strength; he was letting fantastic deep balls fly even without stepping into the throw or sometimes even setting his feet. The play where he had to scramble to escape pressure before throwing up a jump ball for a first down was pretty extraordinary seeing it in real-tim. He looked like a pro-worthy arm, in all honesty.

Of course, two things happened to ruin all that. First of all, he continued to have to throw to Maryland's wide receivers, who dropped at least one touchdown and two first downs early on. And then as the game went on, he for some reason seemed to regress a little bit, missing some easy throws, missing some reads (very badly) and throwing that awful interception. On his few final drives, he really looked like the same Danny we'd been seeing all year.

The early progress is a hopeful sign, though, and should give O'Brien the starting job for good. We'll have to wait to see, though, whether or not he can put an entire game together.

C.J. Brown. When Brown came in as a change-of-pace quarterback for the first time, we were all reminded of just how explosive he can be. He made the right read to hand it off to Davin Meggett to start with, and then kept it on the next play for 25 yards of his own before finding Campbell open in the end zone for a touchdown. That's the type of quick-strike offense Gary Crowton thought he designed, and it was a thing of beauty. It was also the only touchdown drive Maryland had all afternoon.

Of course, things went downhill from there. Brown was on the field for three possessions after that one and managed only a single first down on 3-6 passing with an interception. I still think Brown can be a starter in the right offense, but right now O'Brien seems like the better long-term bet, with Brown being used as an occasional change-of-pace or perhaps in short-yardage situations.

Quintin McCree. Had a statline very similar to Boykins - 7 receptions for 117 yards - with two big differences: he had two drops, instead of one; and he also dropped a sure-fire TD on the first possession. It's obvious that, at least right now, he's Danny O'Brien's favorite target, and he's very dangerous after the catch. In fact, he might be Maryland's best receiver ... if it weren't for that drops problem. If he hauled in that opening TD catch, who knows how the trajectory changes for this one.

Ronnie Tyler. It's clear that Tyler isn't going to be a big part of the passing game again this season, and you saw that when he got the ball: he was only looked to on short passes, and ended up with only two receptions for 10 yards. But he also became Maryland's primary kickoff returner, and was probably the best the Terrapins have had all year there, averaging upwards of 25 yards a return.

Nick Ferrara. The good: downed two of his six punts inside the 20, including one at the five that would've flipped field position. Also made both of his field goals. The bad: two more of his punts went for 22 and 26 yards. I still think he'd be much more consistent if he wasn't asked to do everything like he is right now.

Fans. Better. Announced attendance was 38K and most reports said that was believable. Maryland really can't afford attendance problems right now.

Stock Down

The second-half quarterback rotation. This is where the two-QB system stopped being a two-QB system and started to become a position battle again. Because Edsall and/or Crowton seemed to stop making the decision based on how to best keep Virginia off-balance and instead focused on the performance of the QBs on the field. O'Brien started the second half ... until he threw an interception, at which point Brown immediately began warming up and took the field the very next drive. Brown got two drives, until he threw an interception, at which point O'Brien immediately began warming up.

Is it possible that the plan was to bring in Brown for two (consecutive?) drives late in the third quarter, and that they simply happened to coincide with those interceptions? Sure, technically. But that's a lot of a coincidence and, more importantly, a benefit of the doubt that Edsall hasn't yet earned.

Cameron Chism. It was Down Chism yesterday on his senior day, unfortunately. He was part of a unit that got torched all day long, but instead of making a few big plays like McDougle did, he looked uninspired. All of his tackles came down the field and past the first down marker. Perhaps worst of all was a heinous missed tackle (pictured, actually) on Tim Smith that set up Virginia inside Maryland's 10 and led to a UVA score.

Titus Till. Not exactly a strong game from Till. Finished with only three tackles, at least two missed coverages, and a personal foul penalty that set Virginia up in scoring position. In the end, it seemed to me that A.J. Hendy was getting a lot of snaps at Till's safety spot. Hendy wasn't much better but A) recovered a fumble, B) looked psyched when he recovered said fumble, which was refreshing, and C) is a true freshman. Keep an eye on the depth chart.

Trenton Hughes. I guess it's no surprise that the majority of Maryland's secondary is listed here given that they allowed a career high to Virginia quarterback Michael Rocco. Hughes was beaten badly downfield at least once, missed an open-field tackle on Max Millien's third-quarter touchdown reception, and caught a nasty earful of Edsall in the second quarter, which just plain sounds like a miserable experience. 

The front seven as a unit. When you take out Vellano and Drakeford, the front seven didn't turn in a stellar performance. In addition to never really putting any pressure on Rocco, they were gashed by Perry Jones, who went for 145 yards on just 22 carries. Almost everyone shares some blame in it. Marcus Whitfield missed a tackle on the Jones touchdown run on the first snap. Alex Twine, who's admittedly been having a stellar season otherwise, missed his coverage on the Kevin Parks 35-yard touchdown reception (the zero blitz play). Demetrius Hartsfield had a play late where he ran parallel with Jones down the field for about five yards before making the tackle. I could go on, but I don't see the point: they were just off. It just wasn't a day to remember all around.

Matt Furstenburg. Maryland's best receiving option through the first several weeks has been incognito the past few games. Maryland's gameplan really needs to get him reinvolved; he's too good to consistently ignore.

The D.J. Adams Thing. I've long given up on the D.J. Adams mafia deal - he's not going to play, no matter what. It's a shame, too, because 1st-and-goal from the 2 should equal four DJ Adams carries. Obviously, Maryland couldn't punch it in.

Todd Bradford. This was one of the few games in which you could very easily point to certain playcalls and say "I'm pretty sure Todd Bradford doesn't know what he's doing." The cover-zero blitz that led to one of UVA's touchdowns was pretty heinous. So, too, was allowing upwards of 500 total yards to an offense that managed only 249 against N.C. State and 374 against Southern Mississippi - yeah, that's Bradford's former team, weirdly enough.

Gary Crowton, too. I've said this in the past, but: Maryland's defense was good enough to win. A good offense can score more than 31 points - in fact, 42 teams do it with regularity. But it's very difficult to win a game scoring only 13 points - only four defenses are that good, on average. So Crowton shares some blame here. Admittedly, not all the blame: he can't catch Quintin McCree's passes for him, after all. But from the wacky quarterback situation to the horrible playcalling on the goal-line - the failure to get in the end zone on first-and-goal from the 2 was one of the real turning points in this game, along with Danny O'Brien's interception - the offense was once again not good enough. Some of it's talent; some of it's execution, which is still a coaching issue; and some of it was playcalling.

Perhaps the most telling thing about Crowton: Jim Reid, his opposite number as UVA's defensive coordinator, couldn't understand why he was calling the plays he did, and not in a good way.

Said Virginia defensive coordinator Jim Reid: "They abandoned what they had done really, really well, which was run the football. The zone read. All right - so they got beat by [Boston College] 28-10 [actually, 28-17], or something like that. But they had 400 yards of offense in the mud, you know? And the Clemson game, God! Clemson had no shot. These guys were just running all over the place."

I'd agree with that. The zone read hasn't really been given a fair shake since the Clemson game, in which it worked beautifully. Either way, Maryland's offense wasn't nearly good enough.

Randy Edsall, yet again. I've already written at length about Randy Edsall's current situation, so I won't spend to the time to rehash any of it. But the more games like this - a home game against the closest thing Maryland has to a football rival - that Edsall loses, the easier it'll be to make a change. This may not seem like a big deal right now given that he has time built in, but if he's borderline in three years and has lost three straight to UVA and West Virginia, it'll make the decision a bit easier.

As for why I was unimpressed: first, there's whatever happened at quarterback, which I explained above. And there's the fact that Maryland seemed flat again. There wasn't a lot of emotion even though it was Senior Day, and that manifested itself in a few ways - you saw Chism and Hartsfield get a bit sloppy and lazy tackling down the field, which you just don't expect on a day like that.

And there's the time management aspect, too. This has been a problem all year long, and if/when Maryland is good again, it'll come back to haunt them. This time, Maryland got the ball with 1:28 left in the second quarter on their own 27 yard-line with two timeouts down 14-13. Now, you have two options: run the clock out and get to halftime, or go two-minute drill and try to score before half. Maryland picked ... neither. First was an option run that netted four yards, followed by a screen pass before they finally tried to stretch the field on third and short (it was incomplete). The thing is, even if that third down pass had been complete Maryland wouldn't have had time to get close to scoring, due to the short yardage gained and time taken up by the earlier two plays, meaning a pass made no sense. It was incomplete, and Maryland was forced to punt the ball away to Virginia, which got the ball with 20 seconds left. It's just plain not smart, when a run would've gotten you into half or at least forced Virginia into using a timeout.

That's a long-term issue. But right now, the big problem stills seems to be with motivation and execution: Maryland wasn't a great situation, but its cupboard isn't 2-10 bare. There needs to be progress made, but if they couldn't do it for Virginia on Senior Day, who do they do it for?

Helmet Stickers

Quintin McCree, WR. The best performing (offensive) senior on Senior Day, even with a dropped touchdown.

Eric Franklin, S. Has kind of gotten ignored this year, but he's come into his own recently.

Dexter McDougle, CB. Liked to see the physicality out of him yesterday.

Joe Vellano, DT. Had a big, entirely solo fourth-down stop in the second quarter.

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