The Maryland Terrapins football team came out flat, ill-prepared and lacking urgency against Middle Tennessee State on Saturday, falling to the Blue Raiders 24-14. The win for Middle Tennessee is one of the top wins in the 75 year history of the program, which should say a lot about how devastating this loss is for the Terps.
Quarterback Chris Turner, starting for the first time this season, had arguably the worst game of his Terrapin career, going just 13-28 (46%) for 207 yards, 80 of which came on a screen pass to Darrius Heyward-Bey. Take away that big play and Turner only threw for 127 yards.
Running back Da'Rel Scott rushed 11 times for 123 yards (11.18 yards/carry), including a 63 yard TD run. Even when you take away the 63 yard run, Scott would still be averaging around 6 yards per carry, so why the Terps didn't try to just run the ball more is beyond me. The Terps were dominated in the time of possession battle, holding the ball for just over 20 minutes during the game. Running the ball and keeping it out of the hands of MIddle Tennessee State would have been a good way to try and win this game, since it appeared the defense was having trouble stopping the Blue Raiders. Maryland was never trailing by such a large margin that it had to continually throw the ball, so why did Scott only get 11 attempts to run? Granted, Portis got some of those opportunities, but still, Scott should have been running the ball at least 20 times during this game.
It was good to see Scott get out into the open field and beat a defense to the end zone, something he seemed on the verge of doing several times last week during the Delaware game. Same thing for Heyward-Bey. Both of those guys have great speed, so it was nice to see them utilize that against this team. Too bad Heyward-Bey and Scott only touched the ball a combined 13 times.
Chris Turner did not play well. I'm not sure if he's having trouble grasping Franklin's system or if he just felt like he had high expectations on his shoulders starting for the first time in 2008, but of the 13 passes Turner completed, 7 of them were for a gain of 10 yards or greater. I'm not sure if that means Turner isn't doing a good job checking down or if he is more comfortable making longer throws, but something here needs to be changed.
After having a good game last week against Delaware, Maryland's defense tonight looked soft. The Terps defensive line needs to learn how to pressure the quarterback. Maryland had 0 sacks tonight - ZERO! That is not only unacceptable, it's pathetic. If Maryland can't put pressure and break through the offensive line of Middle Tennessee State, how the hell do they plan to do so against the Top ACC teams?
Obi Egekeze missed ANOTHER field goal, this time for 38 yards and is now 0-4 on the season. This should be of deep concern for Terps fans. Not having a reliable kicker is going to be very hurtful to the team, especially if they continue to struggle to put points on the board.
The coaching tonight seemed horrible as well. It just seemed like the Terps lacked a game plan to beat these guys. My plan would have been running the football and keeping them off the field. Why you're having Turner throw the ball when you're about to score, rather than handing off to Scott 3 times is beyond me. Just because it's the 4th quarter and you're down by 10 doesn't mean you can't run the ball. Also, putting Portis on 3rd and 4th down situations is stupid because the opponent knows that Portis is likely to run. Until Portis can develop the throwing aspect of his game, opposing defenses are going to know/anticipate that he's going to be running!
Fridge and Franklin need to pick up the pace, attitude and overall moral of this group. This game can either be a spring board/reflection game that the team learns from or it can be the start of an ugly spiral the will continue into ACC play. Hopefully the Terps can come up with something good for the Cal game next week, otherwise, expect the Terps to lose by 20+, despite Cal having to travel 3,000 miles at play at noon.