If you were around last year, you'll remember that after every game I did a report card, grading various players or positions. We're gonna shake things up a bit this year, with a stock report idea shamelessly adapted from Mr. Irrelevant's Winners & Losers. A little less, I don't know, blunt.
Now: in case you had forgotten, last night was quite the event. Interceptions, touchdowns by defensive linemen, crazy uniforms, and everything in between. We have a lot to cover, so let's get to it. Stock report, helmet stickers, and then a player of the game poll.
Danny O'Brien. Big things were expected out of O'Brien at the start of the season. He showed that the hopes weren't misplaced. In Gary Crowton's new scheme, he wasn't asked to do much throwing down the field, but when he did was generally on target, and the short passes were money. As the season goes on, he'll be unleashed more and more. His only bad decision of the day was the interception in the red zone, but when you throw the ball 44 times you're allowed one mistake; it's just a shame it occurred where it did. His 52-yarder to Kevin Dorsey was absolutely drop-dead gorgeous.
Cameron Chism. The late holding call on Chism was 50-50; there may've been a facemask on it, but the call wasn't facemask or even hands to the face, so I'm not sure that's what was spotted. And, in full disclosure, he missed the odd coverage here or there. But he made up for all of them with two absolutely huge plays, both resulting in touchdowns: first, the strip on Mike James that Joe Vellano scooped up and returned for a score, and then the very obvious swaggerrific pick-six to seal the game. He had a rough year last season, but this should be the confidence boost he needed.
Kevin Dorsey. Seriously, was this guy here all year long last season? Dorsey had an absurdly good game, with 8 catches - admittedly, many of them screens - and 152 yards. He was O'Brien's target on the 52-yard bomb, and he brought it in dutifully, when many of Maryland's wide receivers would've dropped it. I have a feeling he's the new go-to.
Matt Furstenburg and Ronnie Tyler. Two beneficiaries of the new scheme. Furst was one of the few players who could stretch the field vertically (no, really) and he displayed solid hands. Tyler blocked very well on the WR screens and fully deserved his touchdown.
Pass protection. You can't read much into it given the losses that Miami had taken on the defensive line, but Maryland's offensive line - plus Davin Meggett, who threw down a few Clinton Portis-style pass blocks - did its job against the pass rush tonight. O'Brien was rarely under pressure.
Andre Monroe. Truth be told, I didn't watch Monroe every play, and he was part of the defensive line that was uninspiring at best. But he's fun to watch. Undersized along the DL, the word him out of HS - small but with a great motor - was right. He made three or four truly big plays last night.
Joe Vellano. And Fat Guy Touchdown lovers everyhwere.
Justus Pickett. Maybe not as a kick returner, where he was average, but he got a lot of snaps. He'll be a part of the offense for sure.
Fans. Good on you, students, and even you non-students. There were plenty of empty seats, but it was pouring down rain so that's pretty understandable. The ones who were there were engaged and loud, and the noise even forced two or three Miami penalties. There was no embarrassment on national TV here, and that's encouraging.
Randy Edsall. I have no idea what decisions Edsall did or didn't make. I have no idea if what he did worked or didn't. But he's the head coach, and they won.
Gary Crowton and His New Offense. Definition of a mixed bag. It put up a lot of yards - 500 of them! - and for the first few minutes was downright mesmerizing. Then Miami figured out the offense was almost entirely based on short passes, cheated up with the DBs, and the offense stagnated. Crowton didn't adjust, which is why Maryland hit their struggles in the third quarter. Not to mention the problems in the red zone: after O'Brien's interception, Crowton seemed loathe to pass it inside the 20, and Maryland paid dearly. The offense moved the ball, but didn't put up the points. The primary goal of an offense is to score; yards are secondary. It's a start, though, and perhaps the kinks will be worked out before long.
Davin Meggett. There's no shame in 95 yards on 21 carries. But if Meggett ever realizes that he just doesn't have the quicks to run like he sometime wants to - rambling east and west runs filled with cut-backs - and instead focuses on getting vertical, he'd be even better. Almost all of his unimpressive runs came when he tried to stretch out a play and ended up with a negative result.
Defensive line. Not a great performance. By-and-large, they couldn't stop the run tonight. They didn't get gutted, but it was a problem: the Canes went for 172 averaging 4.3 ypc, and that's including the few sacks the Terrapins had on Morris. Likewise, it was difficult for them to get pressure on Morris without the help of a blitz. Then again, they were going up against one of the better OLs in the ACC, and against an offense for which the scheme was a question mark. Not good, but it could've been worse.
D.J. Adams. D.J. missed at least two or three scoring opportunities thanks to his suspension, which is bad. But the awful red zone performance without him should solidify his role on the team.
Todd Bradford. Yuck. Not the start he needed to convince an already wary fanbase that he knows what he's doing - which, by the way, still isn't decided.
Kenny Tate as a linebacker. This is not grading Kenny Tate's performance per se, because we all know the guy has talent. It's the idea of Tate playing LB. Because, frankly, it ain't working. Playing closer to the line of scrimmage only allowed bigger, stronger offensive linemen to swallow him up, and it almost always happened. Tate was pretty effectively neutralized by Miami's front line, and when the secondary was getting torched, it looked mighty inviting to move him back a few yards.
The secondary. Morris only threw nine incompletions out of his 28 attempts, and two of those were the late interceptions to Chism and Tate. Before the final two drives, when Maryland knew he had to pass, he was 15-18, which is much too good, even knowing that Maryland had to cheat up to stop the run. He rarely had to make a difficult throw, and gaps in coverage were a mile wide. Not a good game for the back four, although it should be noted that the running game meant they didn't have much support.
Haters. Take that, LeBron James. We might've seared off your retinas, but we did it with swagger and victory.
- Danny O'Brien, QB: Of course. Good game from Danny OB, with the exception of one mistake. He'll be here a lot.
- Andre Monroe, DT: It's always fun to see the little guy succeed. He came up with several big plays when needed.
- Kevin Dorsey, WR: O'Brien and Crowton have found the heir apparent to Torrey Smith. It didn't take long.
- Darin Drakeford, LB: Drakeford whiffed a few times, but led all players with 14 total tackles, 11 of them solo. He was all over the field today.