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We'll be busting out this format every now and again after games. It's an homage to a similar column done by Kevin Van Valkenburg at the Baltimore Sun. Feel free to list your five things in the comments section.
1. It’s only been two weeks, but the new defense looks like it could use some work.
Yes, it’s early. And yes, the defense is learning a new system. But it’s hard to walk away from these first two games and be impressed with what the defense has done. Against Miami, the D gave up 367 yards to an offense missing its starting quarterback, star receiver, and starting tight end. Today, Todd Bradford’s squad was atrocious, giving up 480 yards to the Mountaineers.
West Virginia has a very good offense, and they’re tough to defend. But you can’t expect to give up nearly 500 yards and win a football game. The run defense was solid today, but through the air West Virginia was able to get whatever it wanted. Geno Smith threw for almost 400 yards and completed 36 passes. I don’t know if it’s a personnel problem or a scheme problem, but Bradford should go back to drawing board this week because defensively, this team is not where it needs to be.
2. As good as Danny O’Brien is, he’s not perfect, and right now, his decision making leaves a lot to be desired.
Danny O’Brien is a good quarterback, one of the better ones in the ACC. But through two games this season, it’s clear that his decision making could certainly be improved. All four of his interceptions this season have come under little pressure, when DOB has had plenty of time to throw the ball. The problem hasn’t been the O-Line (something we’ll get to later) but rather O’Brien forcing throws that aren’t there.
His INT in the Miami game, he probably could have ran in the endzone for a TD. And all three of his picks today weren’t the result of being pressured, but instead O’Brien simply trying to do too much. Even on a long throw that ended up being called pass interference against West Virginia, O’Brien kind of just slung it up there, off his back foot, to a receiver that wasn’t open.
Because Danny O’Brien has been so good, it’s easy to forget that today was just the 12th start of his career. He’s still developing as a quarterback and learning new things. But one area that could definitely use some work is his decision making. Danny O’Brien didn’t cost Maryland the game this afternoon, but his three interceptions helped to put the team in a hole it simply couldn’t climb out of.
3. The surprise of the year so far might be how good the O-Line is.
I, for one, was really worried about the offensive line coming into the season. After the dismissal of starting guard Justin Lewis this summer, it seemed that O-line might be the weak spot of this offense. But the past two games, the line has been excellent. Danny O’Brien hasn’t been sacked once this season, and he had plenty of time to throw the ball this afternoon.
In addition to the stellar pass protection, the run blocking has been solid as well. The Terps ran for almost 190 yards today and running backs Davin Meggett and D.J. Adams both averaged over five yards a carry. I wouldn’t expect the offense to put up those kinds of numbers every week (West Virginia’s run defense really isn’t that good), but through two games the guys up front have kept Danny O’Brien upright and opened up some big holes for the running backs. You can’t ask for much more than that from your O-Line.
4. Another Maryland wide receiver will be playing on Sundays and his name is Kevin Dorsey.
In his first game, he had 8 catches for 124 yards. Today, he had 9 catches for 79 yards and a TD. What we learned today, folks, was that Game 1 was no fluke: Kevin Dorsey is pretty good. He’s not the fastest receiver on the team, but he’s big, he knows how to use his body, and he seems to find ways to get open.
That last quality, the ability to get separation, is one that is valued highly in the NFL. In fact, it wouldn’t shock me if Kevin Dorsey becomes a better NFL receiver than Darrius Heyward-Bey and Torrey Smith because his strengths (his ability to get open and find the holes in a defense) are more rare than their strengths (namely, speed). That’s not necessarily a knock on DHB and Torrey Smith, I just think Kevin Dorsey is that good.
It’s become clear that Kevin Dorsey has become O’Brien’s favorite target. With Dorsey emerging as the #1 guy (and two other receivers suspended indefinitely), it will be interesting to see the kind of numbers he puts up this season, and the attention he garners from NFL scouts.
5. Today was a perfect example of why Randy Edsall needs to lock up the talent in Maryland.
It’s been harped on again and again, but today was another example of why Randy Edsall needs to lock down the state of Maryland if this program is going to go from "good to great" and overtake another big regional program like WVU.
Watching Tavon Austin run around Byrd Stadium today in blue and gold made me physically ill. For those that don’t know, Austin was a 5 star recruit who attended Dunbar in Baltimore. And he’s what sports pundits would call a "difference maker." (He had 11 catches for 122 yards today). Now if Tavon Austin was wearing black today instead of that hideous blue and gold would Maryland have won? It’s impossible to make those judgements. But keeping guys like that in Maryland, playing for their home state, has to be (and so far, seems to be) one of Edsall’s top priorities.