Game recap is here. Ben G.'s Five Things post is here. You should read both. If you've forgotten the drill: players/coaches/concepts trending up, staying put, trending down; then helmet stickers, which aren't necessarily the best players but are noteworthy for inspired or unexpected performances; and then a poll asking for the player of the game.
Let's get to it.
Maryland's backfield. What a group. Davin Meggett had arguably the best game of his career, and was able to stretch the field a bit more against a defense that, while probably better than Miami's, wasn't as quick. He's not particularly fast, but he's decisive and tough as hell. The 113 yards was nice, but even more impressive was that it came on only 19 carries - that's a 5.9 ypc average. And that's made more impressive by the fact that his long on the day was only 20 yards, so there was no big run skewing the numbers - even if you take that out, his average is a still-impressive 4.9. It was a career day for Davin, and a positive sign of things to come.
But D.J. Adams took a great performance from the running backs and made it elite. Adams, as I said before, is back as exactly as you remember him: decisive, strong, with good vision, a tough streak, and a nose for scoring. He's a great complement to Meggett, and should be a go-to anytime Maryland has a short-yardage situation. In fact, if they get a first-and-goal from the six or in, I'm all for just handing him the ball four times. He should get more than 12 carries against Temple. And, for what it's worth, Maryland has the toughest backfield in the ACC.
Maryland's offensive line. Of course, what could the running backs do without holes? Blocking was positive all around, but the OL in particular did a nice job of setting up lanes - and, it should be noted, protecting O'Brien, who was rarely under serious pressure. That's especially impressive: WVU had a ton of sacks last time, including three from Bruce Irvin, who was still on the team but only made himself known on a single QB pressure.
Kevin Dorsey. Dorsey had a couple of drops, but they weren't easy drops; they were balls he could've conceivably caught, but didn't hit him in the numbers or anything. That will get better. What's important now: he appears to have the potential a legitimate, ACC-level #1 wide receiver. His route running was fine, he was able to get separation, and his body control was very impressive on the touchdown grab. He ended the day with nine catches, 79 yards, and the solidification of his status as the team's top wide receiver. But what I expect to be overlooked was his blocking, which was fantastic, particularly in the running game. Everyone raved over Dorsey out of high school, and now you know why.
Matt Robinson. Maryland's defense didn't have the best of games, but Robinson had a red letter day. He had 13 tackles (two of them for loss), threw in two pass break-ups, (including one that stopped West Virginia on a crucial third down and was nearly an interception) and forced the fumble on WVU's opening drive (the stat-sheet says Mackall, but it was Robinson who sandwiched Buie). I do remember a missed tackle, but given the ratio of plays he was involved in, it wasn't heinous. Robinson is very active and very involved.
Andre Monroe. It's impossible not to like Monroe. He's a short guy for his size, but that gives him great leverage, and with his motor makes him particularly tough to stop. His sack of Geno Smith was big and would've been huge if Maryland had some adequate third down defense. A.J. Francis is a fun guy and a good DT, but Monroe has to be pressuring him for a starting job next to the consistently good Joe Vellano. There's a lot of talent in the interior of Maryland's DL.
Matt "Furst Down" Furstenburg. I believe our own Maryland Pride - the naming inspiration for the jerseys, of course - came up with the idea, but we're rolling with it. Add 70 yards - and four first downs - from yesterday to his 68 in the opener. Furstenburg has hands of glue and seems to be Maryland's #2 receiving threat at this point, behind only Dorsey. T-shirts are forthcoming.
Halftime adjustments. Whatever they were, they were magic. I'm a little annoyed that it took a 24-point deficit to get the coaching stuff to figure out what to do, but that sense of urgency invigorated both sides of the ball and resulted in a nigh-unstoppable offense and a good-enough defense. Well down, particularly by Crowton. Hopefully he figures out that he has to get vertical a little bit more early on.
Resiliency. It sounds cheesy and, like it did with the basketball team last season, will begin to ring more and more hollow the more we hear it. But this team had opportunities to give up - several of them, in fact - and never did. That nearly got them a win, and I'm willing to bet that it will at some point.
Gary Crowton. Good: the aforementioned adjustments. Bad: everything before them. What a miserable half of predictable, uninspiring playcalling. Two-third screens and one-third off-tackle runs. Crowton's entire playbook obviously has the good stuff in it and once the guy gets into a playcalling rhythm some of the stuff (ie, the entire 3rd quarter) is sublime. But I need to see more aggression earlier in the game.
The Kenny Tate linebacker experiment. Actually, Tate was one of the best players of the day. He was very active, blew up a few runs, tackled well, and covered better. (Tate against tight ends is kind of unfair.) But I still can't help but cringe when I see him transfer down to DE or get swallowed up by a guard who gets to the second level. Maryland's safeties are obviously good enough to start, but I'd still prefer to see Tate step back a few more yards consistently.
Tony Logan's case to be on the field. Logan looked like a lazy route-runner. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if that was a big reason for his limited playing time in the past. And that will probably limit him from being an every-down WR. But I still want him on the field on offense,
even if especially if he's only out there for screens and go routes. He has breakaway speed to separate from DBs and showed that his brand of elusiveness is just as applicable to offense as it is to punt returns. He had two first downs - one of which was thisclose to being a one-yard loss until he turned it into a 15-yard gain - and his hands looked good enough not to be liabilities. Just don't have him running any corners.
Most of the defense. I'm gonna get grilled by some commenters for this, but just hear me out. I'm not going to deny that Maryland's defense played poorly for the second straight game, and that was almost enough for me to knock them down a section. And I'm not going to argue with Ben G.'s statement that "the defense is not where it needs to be." But I'm going to play optimist a little here: Maryland's defense needs more tweaking than overhauling. I harped on it in the recap post, but there were three plays - Chism's two pass interferences (neither of which he needed to commit) and Goree's facemask (which was unnecessary based on the situation), all of which had more to do with awareness and mentality than physical skill - from playing a decent game against WVU's offense.
Which, in case you hadn't noticed, is chock-full of high-level athletes and is the best, most dynamic offense on Maryland's schedule, with the exception of Florida State. Oh, and their starting weakside linebacker and the leading tackler in the opener, Darin Drakeford, sat out with an injury. I know they got torched on a few possessions. I know they gave up nearly 500 yards, as many teams do against a Dana Holgorsen offense. But all things considered, it wasn't an atrocious performance and was nearly a serviceable one. A few guys hurt things, and they're in Stock Down, but I'm not sold this unit is as bad as most seem to think.
Fans. Good: biggest Byrd Stadium crowd since 2005. Bad: like half of them were West Virginia fans.
Maryland's program momentum. No, a loss didn't help. But that big comeback is something to point to for Maryland, as well as something to build on. With two should-win games on the horizon - yes, I know Temple gave Penn State a run for their money - and another winnable, though tough, game at Georgia Tech, there's plenty of time for Maryland to get back into it. And as far as recruiting: just as Maryland was never going to build an empire based on one win, nor is one loss going to destroy their opportunity. They still need to convert, but they have other chances to do it.
Maryland's pass defense. Here was the problem in a nutshell for Maryland against WVU: their cornerbacks were suspect, and their safeties like to play closer to the line of scrimmage, thus making it tough for them to provide adequate over the top coverage. The defensive line, in addition, is undersized, and can rarely get pressure by only rushing four, especially if the opponent saves an extra blocker. If they don't rush the QB, he has time to throw and find an open man. If they do, they're putting their cornerbacks out on islands.
When that happens, the CBs' flaws are magnified. Start with Cameron Chism. He was put out on an island against the talented Ivan McCartney, and it was clear he was overmatched. He was called for two pass interference penalties - one fair enough, the other very questionable - and had a very unimpressive tackling display, giving up two straight first downs on missed tackles on Stedman Bailey. Bailey beat him another time, as well, but Chism was bailed out by a bad Geno Smith pass. Dexter McDougle was no better. He made an incredible interception - the presence of mind to tap his toes and, just as impressive, the physical ability to do it, was top-notch. But, uh, that interception was actually the result of him getting beaten in coverage. The wide receiver dropped the ball and McDougle, by his own ineptitude, was in the right place at the right time. He was beaten a few other times in the game, sometimes badly.
The passing defense was overmatched today, and it shouldn't surprise you that when WVU started to run the ball Maryland had its most success. That's my biggest concern about the defense. But it's not unfixable: David Mackall shows promise rushing the passer, Andre Monroe needs more snaps, and, frankly, the cornerbacks were much worse than they've been in the past. If any one thing needs to improve, it's the corners. One-on-one coverage is hard, but not impossible, especially once they start to play teams with less receiving talent than WVU.
Todd Bradford. Maryland was definitely at a mismatch defensively, as I noted above. But for the life of me I can't figure out what Bradford's scheme is. My best guess: bring no pressure on first and second downs, and then blitz everyone on third down. Seriously, I think every second-half third down he brought three or four extra blitzers. It was predictable and effective one time. His playcalling was never very inspiring, particularly early on when Smith had all day to throw. Hopefully he reassesses things in the next few weeks, because whatever happened isn't going to fly on a consistent basis. I can't help but feel that Don Brown at the helm of this defense is much better than what we saw yesterday.
Danny O'Brien. I put Danny in the "down" section only because I had him at a Heisman-level before and he obviously didn't play up to that yesterday, even though I'm not too worried. He forced three interceptions, two of which might've been game-losers for Maryland, and his accuracy left much to be desired. O'Brien might be a sponge and streets ahead mentally, but it's still A) his 12th start overall, and B) his second start in Gary Crowton's offense. And let's not forget about the late suspensions of Ronnie Tyler and Quintin McCree: the chemistry between O'Brien and guys like Tony Logan seemed a little off.
I'm confident Danny will get better. He's all there physically and even better mentally. This was a bad game - easily his worst ever, in fact. But I don't believe we saw a fluke last year, or last week. He needs reps before the ACC season begins (again), and he'll get them. Reassess after Georgia Tech.
Nick Ferrara. No one likes Ferrara more than me - remember, I referred to him as MVP Kicker two years ago - but he's had a rough year. His kickoffs routinely fall short of the end zone, his punts are middling (and would be worse if not for good rolls), and he missed a 48-yard field goal that, as we saw later, was a little important. (Imagine needing three instead of six on that final drive). I'm surprised he doesn't have more competition at any of the three kicking spots - remember, it can be taxing for one guy to do all three.
Ralph Friedgen's local recruiting. Tavon Austin's hometown: Baltimore, Md. Terrence Garvin's hometown: Baltimore, Md. Vernard Roberts' hometown: Washington, D.C. Switch any one of those three over to the Good Guys, and Maryland probably wins. (Roberts' grades may've been questionable, actually, but still.) Have to feel good that Edsall's at the helm now; he may not be a superstar recruiter, but I have much more confidence in his ability to be a good-enough recruiter.
- Davin Meggett, RB. One of Meggett's best games in a Maryland jersey. Lacks elite physical tools, but his drive is second-to-none. Looks to be in store for a great senior year.
- Matt Robinson, S. 11 solo tackles led all defenders, plus general play-making, makes him one of the real stars of the game.
- D.J. Adams, RB. Two touchdowns. Did what was expected of him as a short-yardage back and then some.
- Kevin Dorsey, WR. Not always are the helmet stickers the best four players - especially because one is supposed to be on special teams, as well - but today they are. Body control on the touchdown was great, but he gets the sticker thanks just as much to his run blocking.