Maryland is still a step below Big Ten's Elite
Saturday's 52-24 loss to Ohio State was, in several ways, a reality check for Maryland fans. Despite another great start to the season, one quickly realized that the Terps remain a tier or two below some of the gold standard programs of the Big Ten. It was very much reminiscent of last season's 63-0 loss to Florida State, which followed a 4-0 start to the season.
Ohio State is much better than their #20 ranking indicates. They lost their Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback, Braxton Miller, to a season-ending injury before the season began, and it appears that J.T. Barrett just needed some time to get his feet under him. With Barrett playing the way he has the past several weeks, including yesterday, Ohio State should once again be considered one of, if not the best, teams in the B1G.
Additionally, the Buckeyes' offensive and defensive lines were absolutely amazing yesterday against Maryland. The defensive line, especially sophomore DE Joey Bosa, were particularly impressive.
Crabcakes and field goals, that's what Maryland does
Overlooked in yesterday's disappointing loss was junior Brad Craddock's 57 yard field goal, which set a new school record. Craddock has yet to miss a field goal or extra point this season. He even converted an extra point yesterday despite a botched snap/hold.
Is it time to anoint Craddock as the best kicker nationally? Entering yesterday's game, he was just one of eight kickers in FBS to be perfect on the season in field goal attempts and one of five to be perfect in both field goal and extra point attempts. After yesterday, he remains perfect and has now added the 2nd longest kick on the season to his resume, tops among those who have yet to miss.
With all he's accomplished thus far, Craddock is certainly putting himself in position to be considered an All-American this season.
Is there a quarterback controversy in College Park?
Following Saturday's loss, Randy Edsall said "C.J. is our quarterback", despite putting in backup Caleb Rowe in the second half. Brown struggled on Saturday, largely because of Ohio State's dominant defensive line, which might be the best d-line in college football. (it's certainly the best I've see thus far) But even when he had time to throw, Brown was unable to hit an open receiver down field and struggled with some sort screen passes. He also threw an extremely costly interception at the end of the 1st half that resulted in an Ohio State touchdown a short time later, essentially derailing Maryland's comeback attempt and taking away any momentum Maryland had entering halftime.
Ohio State did a great job shutting down Maryland's run game, which essentially made Maryland throw the ball much more than they'd have liked. But give credit again to Ohio State's defensive line. At one point they were so dominant, they were only rushing three and still getting pressure on the quarterback, which allowed them to drop another defensive back into coverage.
Caleb Rowe certainly was able to move the ball more through the air against Ohio State, but also struggled at times as well. In previously playing time this season, Rowe has been nearly flawless. On Saturday, he threw three interceptions, a few of which were tipped balls that were either a little too high for his receiver to bring down or went through his receiver's hands. It's hard to really pin all three interceptions on him. The one interception that was his fault was a long toss up in the endzone that floated over his receiver, right into the hands of an Ohio State defensive back. The OSU player made a great play on the ball, but it was a costly turnover that all but ended any comeback thoughts for Maryland.
I think the biggest takeaway here is that when C.J. is unable to have a running game, he is not nearly as effective as he can be otherwise. I think while C.J. remains the starting quarterback, if Maryland needs to be in a passing situation in the future, Edsall won't be afraid to put Rowe in there to try to ignite his team's offense.