If you're new to the game, this is the position-by-position report card. It's not particularly deep; I don't rewatch every game (though I do some, I didn't on this one) but it is thoughtful. At the end, there's four "helmet stickers": the four best players of the game. Feel free to critique.
QB: It's been the focus of the team all season long, and there's still no resolution yet. Jamarr Robinson had to sit out; Danny O'Brien saw the field instead. It was O'Brien's first start, and the first time Maryland started a freshman QB since Calvin McCall in 1999. The verdict: not bad.
The first few series were tough on him. He was pressured quite a bit and his nerves were obvious. He had a few opportunities to throw it deep, and they floated on him a little. By the second quarter, though, it was clear that he had calmed down. His reads were good, his decisions were good, his first TD pass was beautiful (even if he needed LaQuan Williams to make a great catch) and even if got a little lucky at times, I was impressed.
He ended up with a stat line of 18-27 for 250 yards, plus 2 TDs and no interceptions. His deep balls weren't all that impressive - two were overthrown, the time he connected with Torrey was slightly underthrown - but that's not terrible, especially because they aren't wildly off. In fact, it might just be a matter of nerves or experience before he starts connecting on them.
It was easily the best game for one of Maryland's QBs so far this year. Considering the circumstances - an injured ankle, the best pass defense of the season, an unexpected start - I'm not sure we could ask for much more. I'm nor sold on him being the future just yet, but he's on the right track. B+
RB: The stats look great; the actual performance wasn't so amazing. Outside of two carries, Da'Rel Scott and Davin Meggett did little. I'm not sure Meggett had a rush of more than 3 yards all game until the fourth quarter; Scott had a couple of nice runs, but was for the most part bottled up pretty well. A lot of that falls on the line; there wasn't a lot of room to run, and that makes it tough. We saw it all last season.
Thanks to those two runs I keep vaguely referencing, though, the stats look pretty awesome. Scott had a beautiful 56-yard TD run in the 2nd quarter that was all him; Davin Meggett had a 76-yard TD run in the 4th quarter that was mostly his linemen.
Take out those two runs, and they combined for just 54 yards on 21 carries; that's a 2.6 yards per carry average. For Meggett, he would've had 8 yards on 7 carries. Not pretty, and it makes the final stats kind of useless. But both of those plays did happen, and the ability to make big plays like that is one of the most important for a running back. Would it be better if they ended up getting the same exact numbers more consistently with no big plays? If it becomes a problem, this may change, but for now, I'm contented. B-
WR: As always: Torrey Smith. Torrey Smith. Torrey Smith.
Saying Smith's "back" might be inaccurate, because he looks better than ever before. He was injured at some point in the second quarter, but that didn't stop him from grabbing a 68-yard bomb from O'Brien and half-running, half-limping into the endzone. If he was an actual Heisman contender and that was an actually important game and he was actually hurt, that would be a Heisman moment. He ended up with 8 catches and 159 yards, good for nearly 20 yards/catch.
Elsewhere, I was pleasantly surprised. Kerry Boykins had a nice catch on a long 3rd down. Dave Stinebaugh, at tight end, had three catches. LaQuan Williams had a great, beautiful grab for a touchdown. Adrian Cannon and Ronnie Tyler both had quiet days, but I don't remember any particularly damning plays or drops.
Though I still can't wait to get Devonte Campbell back at TE and see what Will Yeatman can do, it's tough to complain about either the WRs or TEs here. Not a bad performance at all. B+
OL: There are definitely some mitigating circumstances here. It was the first game without Justin Gilbert, starting Pete DeSouza instead. Andrew Gonnella, a starting guard, went down early, and though he came back, had to play injured.
Ultimately, I wasn't really impressed. They were flustered by FIU's speed, which consistently got pressure on O'Brien even if they only ended up with one sack. They couldn't open up holes in the running game except for the two big runs, even though Texas A&M did that with ease.
The good news in it is that there was only one sack, despite O'Brien being less mobile than Robinson. Whether that's chalked up to his pocket presence, calm, luck, or something else entirely, I don't know; but FIU is a team that likes to blitz, and they did plenty. Hopefully there can be similar results during the ACC season.
I should also say that I didn't actually remember hearing DeSouza's name. For an offensive lineman, that's always a good thing. And hey, I don't remember the wealth of procedural penalties that there were against West Virginia. It could've been worse, I guess, but it wasn't a great performance. C
DL: Outside of Justin Anderson, who got into the backfield occasionally, the defensive line had a lot of trouble getting pressure on Wesley Carroll. They didn't get a single sack, and he was only pushed out of the pocket a few times all game. This has been a problem since last year; when bringing four, it's almost a guarantee that the opposing QB will have time to throw. In fact, if Carroll was an ACC-level QB, he would've had a huge day. It's something that needs to improve.
In the rushing game, though, things were better. A.J. Francis, Joe Vellano, and even Zach Kerr - who is simply a massive person - all disrupted plays in the backfield, as did Anderson. Drew Gloster, even though he still has trouble producing pressure, continues to impress me in run support (he still doesn't play as good as he looks). Jeremiah Harden only had 46 yards on 17 carries.
Like much of the team, the DL's grade is tough. It's even tougher considering the number of plays FIU had (98, which was way more than Maryland's 55). But FIU stayed in the game thanks to their passing game, and I don't think they would've been able to had their been an adequate pass rush from Maryland. C+
LB: I think it's safe to say that Adrian Moten, not Alex Wucjiak, is Maryland's best linebacker. First came the Superman; now he's out-tackling Wucjiak (solo, not assisted) and picking off passes. He was all over the field and, frankly, a true impact player. He didn't pressure the QB enough for my taste, but no one did.
Wujciak wasn't bad himself, either, though he's still on the slow side. He did a nice job of run stuffing, particularly in the middle, and I don't remember him getting burned badly, ala West Virginia. Demetrius Hartsfield wasn't great in coverage, but he was active in run support and made a couple of notable open-field tackles.
Coverage by the 'backers was middling, but that's not really their forte. I remember a few intermediate passes over the middle where the LBs should've been, but the tight ends and backs were limited in the passing game and for the most part it was the secondary that was picked on. B+
DB: The stats don't look great here - 355 yards - but I actually think the performance was better than it looks. Let's start off with the good news in terms of individual performances: Trenton Hughes looked pretty good. He had the interception near the goal line that prevented a TD, and then broke up the a touchdown the next drive. Out of all the DBs that got beaten, Hughes wasn't notable.
Meantime, Cameron Chism was inconsistent. On FIU's second TD, he gambled and went for an interception, but missed badly. He later committed a pass interference that lead to another TD. In fact, he was even benched at one point, and he certainly deserved it. On the other hand, he came back in and looked good, and even broke up four passes. He's still the #1 starter, but I'm not as convinced that he's a top-flight CB, as I was earlier in the year, and Trenton Hughes will overtake him if they continue to play like this. More to the point, Dexter McDougle looked very raw, and he was beaten twice in the second half.
As for the safeties, I feel spoiled. I can't believe I'm saying this, but Kenny Tate and Antwine Perez were quiet. Yes, they combined for 15 tackles (8 solo) but none were for loss, and neither broke up a pass. Tate laid a heck of a hit to break up a pass, but was called for a phantom personal foul on the play. They weren't bad, but I was just surprised they didn't make a big play. Given their previous impacts, it was surprising. Not all bad, again but surprising.
When you look at them as a group, yeah, it's easy to say that FIU passed for 355 yards and Chism had a lot of bad plays. But FIU passed the ball 58 times, and that works out to a respectable 6.1 yards/attempt. Plus, Chism had his fair share of solid plays, and Hughes looked pretty good. And hey, Carroll had all day to throw. All in all, it's not as bad as it looks. C+
Special Teams: This just in: Travis Baltz is human. This also just in: Tony Logan might not be.
Baltz finally missed a field goal, which probably means that Nick Ferrara, who is now healthy, will be place-kicking again next week. Baltz also had a few very average punts, and averaged just 40 yards/punt. That's not terrible, but considering he was averaging nearly 46, it's not particularly good.
As for that secondary thing: Logan might just be the most dangerous special teams player Maryland has, and that includes Torrey Smith. He looked on the verge of breaking a punt return in each of Maryland's first three games, and finally cashed in this week with a stunning 85-yard touchdown return. He's a threat to house it every single time, and that's something Maryland's lacked since Steve Suter. In fact, he replaced Torrey Smith late in the game at kick return, and even though that was because Smith was hurting at the time, I wouldn't be surprised if it happened long term. A-
Coaching: The playcalling was better than I expected; the staff didn't push the run once it became obvious it wasn't going to work the way Maryland needed it to, but they didn't entirely abandon it, either. I did have some problems with putting the Wild Turtle in on a 3rd and 3, but it's not as inexcusable as some of last week's mistakes. Defensively, there were some questionable blitzes, as always, but it wasn't as bad as last week, when linebackers were lining up with skill players.
My big qualm came with timeout management: Maryland tried to force FIU to punt at the end of the second half, but let several seconds run off in-between the play ending and calling timeout. It just seemed like they couldn't make up their mind, and it probably robbed them a shot at getting a couple of points. In the end, though, if that's only problem, it's an improvement. B+
- Torrey Smith, WR: The best player on the field, and it's not close.
- Trenton Hughes, CB: Didn't get his name called that much outside of his interception, and it got repetitive putting Adrian Moten here.
- Tony Logan, PR: 85-yard punt return for a TD. 'Nuff said.
- Danny O'Brien, QB: Narrowly beats out Moten. Gotta give the nod to the QB.