Game recap is here. I'll echo my big thought from yesterday: I still think there's a lot of potential in this team, but it's impossibly frustrating to watch. You know the drill: good, medium, bad, players of the game, poll.
Danny O'Brien's case to start. I'm actually not as sold on Danny O'Brien's performance as many others are, but that doesn't really matter: it's inarguable that Danny went to sleep last night with a significantly better chance to be a starter than he woke up with yesterday morning. He wasn't put in a great position, and he performed at least adequately; that should be enough to get a very lively conversation going. If O'Brien isn't listed as tied with Brown when the depth chart is released, I'll be extremely surprised. The controversy has returned.
Marcus Leak. Okay, he had at least one drop, and perhaps two - my memory is failing me. But given that he was a true freshman making his first start, I'll excuse that, especially given that he had 8 catches and caught a nice touchdown late the game. He has a bright future, and hopefully he'll keep the legacy of Maryland's #82 alive.
Quintin McCree. He's been up-and-down all year, but he's easily emerged as the top receiving option in the absence of Kevin Dorsey. The 67-yarder that made Maryland's first TD was a fantastic individual effort, and he also made a nice grab on the final drive. He might be the fast downfield threat Maryland's been looking for. Really, given his size and speed - 6-1 and supposedly the team's fastest receiver - that shouldn't be surprising.
Andre Monroe and A.J. Francis. The DT duo was great yesterday. This was Monroe's first game back since being injured a few weeks ago, and he picked up more or less where he left off. Twice he busted into the Florida State pocket to disrupt a passing play, even though he didn't get credited with a sack. Francis, meanwhile, did have a sack, and added three tackles.
David Mackall. Mackall had three solo tackles and continued to consistently pressure and pester the QB. He's just not at the point yet where he's a sackmaster, but he's getting close.
Lorne Goree. An extremely productive first half from Goree, who, like most of the defense, saw his performance drop a tad as the game went along. Still, 7 total tackles - 5 of which were solo - and 1.5 TFL is a darn good game, and he had several important stops early in the game. He's been a pleasant surprise.
A.J. Hendy. Randy Edsall is the kind of guy who rewards good play on special teams with real snaps. Hendy may benefit from that: he made three great tackles on punt returns, fixing an area in which Maryland has struggled so mightily. Combine that with his status as Maryland's most celebrated freshman recruit and the Terrapins' shoddy secondary play so far, and it's not hard to think that he'll start to see some snaps at safety or cornerback in coming weeks.
The shellmet. Love it, if only to break up the monotony of the matte black.
Danny O'Brien's performance. Don't get me wrong: O'Brien didn't play poorly, I just don't think he played great, like some have claimed. The 67-yarder to McCree was a great audible by O'Brien, but the pass was more or less a jump ball, and it was McCree who made it what it was. The final drive probably shouldn't be given too much importance: it was against scrubs who had already checked out. I'm not saying those plays don't count; only that, outside of those three plays, all of which have caveats, he was ... pretty average, and more or less the guy he had replaced in C.J. Brown. Four of his six drives were three-and-outs (three of them consecutively, effectively killing Maryland's momentum), he continued to underthrow all of his intermediate routes, and he missed at least one drive-killing read. In other words, it's about what he's done in recent weeks. Throw in the fact that Florida State had spent all week preparing for Brown's legs instead of O'Brien's arm, and it's not exactly a jaw-dropping performance.
At the same time, though, he reinforced the fact that his arm, when it's on, can make any throw you ask of it. His deep ball is beautiful and his mind is still sharp as ever. If the coaching staff is willing to make good use of it, there's plenty of potential in an offense led by Danny.
C.J. Brown. Brown had the worst performance of his three games, finishing 11-19 for 92 yards and 10 carries for 25 yards. Remember, though, that Florida State is the best defense Maryland has seen all year, or will see. Brown isn't at a Denard Robinson level yet, and that means that a hugely-athletic defense like FSU will cause him problems. I don't think he played terribly, especially given the circumstances, but there's no getting around the fact that he was ineffective.
The running backs. Davin Meggett and Justus Pickett ended up with only 17 carries and didn't have a single run of more than 10 yards. Still, I'm a fan of both of these guys, Meggett in particular. It's a pleasure to watch the physicality that Meggett runs with, particularly the way he finishes his runs and fights for first downs. Pickett is still young and still learning, but you can see him start to finish his runs the same way - by lowering his shoulder and looking to pick up a yard or two at the end of runs. A few weeks ago, he wasn't doing that.
Dexter McDougle. The good: McDougle had a second-quarter interception, which is yet another big play he's made this season. The bad: he also got beaten on a few plays down the field and missed a few tackles. All in all, McDougle is far from a lockdown corner, but he sure does make some plays.
Tackling. I don't know exactly how many missed tackles there were, but I have a vague idea: way too many. Florida State, especially on that first drive, ran roughshod over Maryland's defense. The Terps' defense isn't good enough to miss a play when they're in the right position, and that didn't happen too much to begin with anyway.
The secondary. E.J. Manuel ended up 18-26 for 264 yards, but he didn't have to make many tough throws: receivers consistently got open, and sometimes scarily so. I won't blame them too much for that: it's not Cameron Chism or Trenton Hughes' fault that they're three-star-types going up against four-star-types. But they missed a ton of tackles, and, as said above, that can't work. This group is still crying out for Ron Darby.
R.J. Dill. Multiple penalties, both of the holding and procedural varieties, combined with multiple blown assignments: not cool. This was his worst game in the past two years. Dill a three-year starter, and better is expected of him.
The offensive line. Hmm...maybe I should've just thrown Dill in with the rest of the line. Pete White also got called for a hold that negated a first down, but the real damning thing was that Florida State was so easily able to pressure Maryland's QB, whoever it was, even with only three man fronts. FSU had six sacks, many of them coming when they dropped seven or eight into coverage. If they drop that many and can still get pressure, I don't care if it's Peyton Manning in the backfield, it's going to be just about impossible to complete a pass.
Marcus Whitfield. I haven't seen Whitfield since he came into the program several years ago. He's an athletic defensive end whom Maryland could really use for depth. He got into the two-deep for the first time this weekend, and actually made a nice tackle in one of his first plays. He followed that up with ... a silly late hit. Not a good way to endear yourself to the coach.
Nick Ferrara. Nick the Kick has been really up-and-down this year, and, really, his entire career. Yesterday's game was a lot more down than up. He had a 14-yard punt that set up FSU in Maryland territory, and later missed an extra point. Wondering if the staff may consider playing Michael Tart or Nathan Renfro to lighten Ferrara's load.
Kickoff coverage. The punt coverage was fixed, largely thanks to a sure-tackling AJ Hendy, but there still have a few problems on kickoffs. It's more or less guaranteed that as soon as Maryland gets something going, they lose all momentum...mostly because they have to kick off. Part of this is Ferrara, but it's too consistently bad to be only one thing. A 31-yard average is much too much, especially when the kicks are short.
Ralph Friedgen's recruiting. I'm not a big "blame the last guy" kind of guy, but it's tough to ignore. For the third time this year, Maryland's just been straight-up outmatched, right down the field, by fantastic athletes. It's tough to win those types of games, and when the difference is this pronounced, nearly impossible. That's a nice argument for Maryland needing a bang-up recruiting staff. Too bad they don't.
Todd Bradford. But not by much. The defense was above-average for 3/4 of this game, and he's still working with the same problems as he's been forced to deal with all year: no depth, no rest, and an overall lack of quality. But this time, the scheme was a little more questionable, especially sitting fifteen yards or so back from the receivers so consistently at the start.
Randy Edsall. Some people call me an optimist about Maryland football, and I actually think this team will be much better next year. But I also think you can be optimistic about the short-term future of the program and simultaneously disappointed with the head coach. Edsall has some negatives in his situation, for sure, but bottom line: he inherited an above-average situation and in only seven games has as many losses as Ralph Friedgen had through two years. I'm not writing him off, but the honeymoon period is over. Like much of the fanbase, I'm upset with the performance of the team and, by extension, Edsall himself.
- Quintin McCree, WR. Great effort on the 67-yarder, and had the best WR performance Maryland's seen since Kevin Dorsey in the Miami opener.
- Lorne Goree, LB. Extremely active early on, and a big part of how Maryland was able to constrain FSU's offense in the middle quarters.
- Andre Monroe, DT. Most people won't remember this performance, which literally didn't show up in the statbook. But Monroe is still extremely disruptive at DT.
- Danny O'Brien, QB. Even though I didn't love his performance, he was at the helm for both of the TD drives. Props where they're due.