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Maryland 42, Virginia 23: Report Card and Helmet Stickers

New format here, guys. Instead of going unit-by-unit, I'm cherry-picking notable players/plays/groups and talking about their performance, instead of the units as a whole. It's quicker to write, a little shorter, and more to the point. Then again, it's also less comprehensive. I only talk about the players or performances I found notable because they were out of the ordinary; for instance, I'm leaving out Alex Wujciak here, because, well, he did what he always does: ~10 tackles, the vast majority assists, and a PBU.

Anyway, let me know what you think at the end. I'm good with the old way, too.

Danny O'Brien: We get three more years of this guy? Well, this is pretty awesome.

Danny threw for 2 TDs, added another on the ground with a 12-yard QB draw, and was robbed of two more thanks to drops by Adrian Cannon and Torrey Smith. He was 17-28 even with the two drops, threw for 289 yards (that's 10.3 yards per attempt), and I counted only one bad throw - a massive misunderstanding between him and Kevin Dorsey. His dropped throw to Smith was one of the best passes I've seen from a Maryland QB in a long-time - he had a defender in his face and threw the ball 40 yards in the air over Smith's shoulder and right into his hands. Beautiful. Shame it was dropped.

In short, he played about as well as you can play at QB without dropping some kind of career game. A

D.J. Adams: It's official: he's earned a role in the RB committee. It started on the goal line, which is his specialty, where he scored three TDs. The coaching staff started to give him more burn, smartly going with the hot hand and giving him more carries than anyone else on the team. He displayed a surprising burst and persistence that's been absent all year from Da'Rel Scott and Davin Meggett. Oh, and he's a ton of fun to watch: he has more swagger than anyone else on the team, and isn't afraid to show it.

Remember how I blame the offensive line for the all running problems? I'm rethinking it now that Adams looked so good and Scott and Meggett looked...average. B+ I miss Warrick Dunn. He was all kinds of awful, but he was funny awful. Whoever the people were that were calling this game were just straight awful. Also, dumb camera angles. Also, randomly missing a 20+ yard play. Also, awful feed. Also, I hate you ESPN3. Q

Da'Rel Scott/Davin Meggett: Meggett barely played, only totaling 5 carries. His biggest contribution might've been a chip block on a long pass play that gave O'Brien an extra second of time. Scott led Maryland in rushing and started to look better as the game wore on, picking up two 10+ yard runs in the fourth quarter, but outside of those two averaged just 2.8 yards per carry. Scott is still inconsistent, Meggett was quiet, and Adams is sneaking up on both. C+

Torrey Smith: Is he back? Not quite, but he's getting there. He's back to making big plays and the "Throw to Torrey Smith and Let Good Things Happen" play has made a comeback. He accounted for passing plays of 62, 35, and 27, each crucial in setting up a score. In other words, he's an impact player again.

But he's also not fully healthy yet, and you can tell. On the 62-yarder, he seemed to be laboring down the field without his normal speed; a healthy Torrey probably gets the extra 12 yards and scores on that play. He dropped two passes, including one that hit him directly in the hands in the end zone. Of course, he limped awkwardly following both, indicating either a real injury that threw him off or another "Jim Brown-ing" moment. All in all, a good day that had the potential to be outstanding and maybe even record-breaking. B+

The Other Wide Receivers: LaQuan Williams had an amazing one-handed grab off a tipped pass that gave Maryland 26 yards on a 3rd down and set up a Maryland TD. Quintin McCree was unbelievably open after running right by Chase Minnifield and would've scored a touchdown on the play if he didn't have to wait on the ball.

Past that? Eh. Cannon had four short catches. Kevin Dorsey was quiet. Kerry Boykins had a nice catch. No complaining. B+

The Offensive Line: Word of warning: let's not get too carried away here. UVA's defensive line has been dominated in pretty much every game they've played. Maryland doing it shouldn't be a huge surprise and may or may not be a harbinger of things to come.

That said, for the third straight game, the line has been respectable. I don't know if they've rallied around Pete DeSouza's injury or if that allowed them to find the perfect combination of players, but they've been pretty respectable lately. The penalties have been cut down, D.J. Adams made a case for the problems existing more in the backs than the line, and O'Brien had to hurry a throw only once, off the top of my head - and he still nailed it.

Like I said, don't think too much of it. But it was good. B

Joe Vellano: Vellano was the only defensive lineman to consistently get into the backfield and pressure Verica or disrupt the running game. Literally the only one. Twice he got to Mark Verica, both times disrupting the throw. The only others to get to Verica were linebackers. He was also second on the team in tackles and pitched in a TFL. Just a continuation of what's been a pretty good year. B+

Zach Kerr: The new Fridge. As in, Perry. Kerr, who stands at 320 pounds, was the fullback in the goal line set. He whiffed on the first one, but the next time he was in he ate up two blockers and paved the way for Adams to run in. He also ran down Keith Payne once, showing off some impressive speed. He's got a ton of potential, and if nothing else is going to be an awesome blocker. B+

Adrian Moten: Fantastic game. His 4 solo tackles led the team, he had the game-sealing interception, and the team's only sack. Just what you want out of your playmaking LB. A

The Backup Linebackers: Bradley Johnson, back from what could've been a season-ending injury, made a tackle for a feel-good story. Darin Drakeford had 5 total tackles, 3 solo, including a big one on a third down. B+

Cameron Chism: Wow. I want to like Chism so much. I loved him last year. I thought he was going to become a star this year. Instead, his coverage has been, and I hate using this word but it's true, awful. His coverage is below-average and he usually gets burnt, he gets picked on all the time, he got bailed out of a pass interference, he tackled could go on. I'm not sure if it's psychological or what, but it was just another bad day at the office for Chizz. Maryland needs some cornerbacks, stat. I'm not giving up on him yet, but I'm getting really disheartened. D

The Secondary: Hughes got beaten. Kenny Tate was, and I can't believe I'm saying this, quiet. He even dropped an interception that would've been a guaranteed pick-six. Antwine Perez didn't do a lot. Eric Franklin did have a pick, and for that he gets props.

In the end, the coverage was actually kind of shocking. (And the defensive line has a lot to do with this for their inability to get to the QB, but we already knew about that). Verica could find an open man more often than not, and that means that Russell Wilson and whichever warm body of a former five-star prospect Florida State throws out there will probably light this secondary up. When Tate doesn't make noise and the DL doesn't give them any protection, this unit has the potential to be pretty bad. C

Special Teams: Gave up a fake field goal, did nothing in the return game all day, gave up good returns multiple times off kickoffs and punts, and Baltz was solid but not spectacular.

That said, there were no major mistakes, and as long as that happens, special teams can only really be so bad. All in all: meh. C+

Coaching: First off, props to Franklin and Friedgen for the goal-line calling. After an abysmal display of it last week, they came out and decided to shove the ball down UVA's throat. It worked. They need to keep doing it. And even bigger props for some legitimate innovation with the use of Kerr as FB. Even the one play that I disagreed with - a 2-yard swing to Da'Rel Scott - scored a TD.

Equally giving props to the two awesome 4th down conversions. They were gutsy, gave the right impression to the team, and quite frankly made sense considering the RB at Maryland's disposal (Adams), the distance (a yard) and the general poor play of the kickers so far.

Jamarr Robinson was weirdly used again, but only once. Not really sure how to deal with the defensive coaches; it's clear that the DBs are below-average, but I can't imagine the playcalls are helping. You have to try to leave some receivers as open as they have. B+

Helmet Stickers:

  • Danny O'Brien, QB: Three TDs, a few great throws. Thank God for 2-to-3 more years of this guy.
  • Adrian Moten, LB: Best defensive player on the field yesterday. Reminds me of early-season Moten.
  • Torrey Smith, WR/KR: I stick to my principles, so the guy here has to contribute to special teams in some way. Smith just happened to do it less than he did offensively, where he had his second-best game of the season.
  • D.J. Adams, RB: Three short TDs, a great burst, and swag off the charts. I loved watching him jump and down. Hilarious and energizing.