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Maryland Can't Capitalize on Scoring Chances, Falls to Wake Forest 31-10

No strawberries.
No strawberries.

Tanner Price threw for 320 yards, Brandon Pendergrass ran for 125 yards, and the Wake Forest Demon Deacons clinched bowl eligibility with a 31-10 over the Maryland Terrapins. Good for them, I guess.

The big story around these parts, though, is the Terps' losing their ninth game of the year. They're coming dangerously close to the ignominy of repeating 2009's 2-10 campaign, as they finish up business next week with a road trip to N.C. State, which just threw down on Clemson earlier today. It's wasn't exactly in the plans when Randy Edsall took the reigns of a 9-4 team in January.

As we've seen so often this year, Wake Forest struck first, taking their second drive of the game 75 yards and scoring on a 2-yard Tanner Price touchdown pass. Maryland's defense tightened up, though, and kept the Deacs scoreless for the rest of the half. The Terrapins equalized on a well-run two-minute drill right before the half, with C.J. Brown finding Justus Pickett on a wheel route for a 31-yard touchdown.

The second half, though, went all Wake's way. The Deacons put up 24 second-half points, easily slicing through a tired Maryland defense. In comparison, the Terrapins had a Davin Meggett touchdown pulled back due to an illegal shift, missed a field goal (another came in the first half), dropped an easy touchdown, and failed to score after getting the ball at the Wake Forest 11-yard line.

So you could pretty easily make the argument that the Terrapins gave away anywhere between 20 and 24 points. All about execution.

The defense, for what it's worth, wasn't quite as bad as the numbers will tell you. Wake hung upwards of 500 yards on the Terps, including nearly 200 on the ground, but most of that came in the explosive second-half. That's been a weekly thing for Maryland, and it has much to do with how poor the offense is. Maryland rarely has sustained drives, which means the defense is always on the field and, by the late third-quarter, is completely gassed. We saw that again today: Maryland's time of possession was only 23 minutes.

(The one thing that still retains value is the occasionally awful tackling show. They really need to work on that.)

Speaking of Maryland's offense, though: C.J. Brown was back for the first game since the Boston College game three weeks ago, starting in lieu of the injured Danny O'Brien. He was more or less adequate; he was far from winning the game single-handedly, but I didn't think he was particularly bad, either. His final line of 20-42 wasn't especially impressive, but my bigger problem is with Gary Crowton. Brown isn't a throwing QB; the focus of the offense when he's in the game should be easy short-to-intermediate throws and heavy, heavy amounts of the zone-read option. Instead, Brown went deep pretty consistently - even more, it seemed, than O'Brien ever did. Asking Brown to do that is like asking O'Brien to run the triple-option. It's a terrible waste of what he's actually good at.

When they did focus on the zone-read or letting Brown get out and run, things were much better. He finished with 110 yards on 13 carries for an 8.5 average, including runs of 20, 24, and 30 yards. Those are drive- and game-changing plays. No, he isn't great at passing, but there's absolutely no reason he should do it 42 times a game. He's a running QB. Run him.

In other depressing news, another old haunt of Maryland's reared its ugly head: special teams. Nick Ferrara had a monstrous game, and not in a good way. He missed two very makable field goals, of 32 and 36 yards. He threw in punts of 15 and 32 yards. Just an all-around bad day at the office in what's been a very difficult year for Ferrara.

All in all, Maryland's offense gets the lion's share of the blame for this one, but it was an all-around ugly game for the Terrapins in what's been an all-around ugly season. There's little, and sometimes it seems nothing, on which to build some hope in College Park.

Stock report coming tomorrow or Monday. The hardwood Terps take on Iona tomorrow at 2:00 for the Scott Machado-Momo Jones-Terrell Stoglin Battle Royale. Be there.