clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Byrd Feeder: Observations from Maryland football's weekend at Penn State

New, 51 comments

Notes from a weekend covering Maryland football in State College – including thoughts on the town itself – and a brief look ahead.

Linebacker Yannick Ngakoue had pressure on Christian Hackenberg for much of Saturday's game.
Linebacker Yannick Ngakoue had pressure on Christian Hackenberg for much of Saturday's game.
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

After Maryland's loss to Wisconsin two weeks ago, Randy Edsall's Sunday conference call with media lasted four minutes. He wasn't in a mood to talk and only wanted to cast aside the debacle in Madison as quickly as possible.

This week, he was in a more talkative mood. Edsall joined the Maryland football press for 13 minutes on Sunday afternoon, on a day when he soaked up the Terps' 20-19 win over Penn State and fielded congratulatory calls and texts from high school coaches and program alumni like Boomer Esiason.

On his call, Edsall said receiver Marcus Leak, banged up in the Penn State, was sore on Sunday. Other than that, Edsall said the Terrapins were in decent shape health-wise but wouldn't offer further updates until they face Michigan State in two weeks, on Nov. 15. He said the Terrapins will have coaches out on recruitment trips, both locally and farther, throughout this bye week.

He also said he would submit plays to the Big Ten for official video review, as he does every week, but wouldn't confirm whether Yannick Ngakoue's pick-six-negating roughing-the-passer penalty would be among them

Edsall reiterated that he'd like Penn State and Maryland to forge a real rivalry. Though, of Saturday, he said, "I'm just glad that we scored one more point than they did."

What we saw last week:

  • A dominant defense. The Terrapins had their best defensive performance of the year at Beaver Stadium. The Terps allowed 2.6 yards per play, an even 1 yard per rush and just a couple of even mildly explosive Penn State offensive plays. L.A. Goree had one of the best games of his career, and an injury-thinned secondary held itself together capably against Christian Hackenberg, DaeSean Hamilton and the Penn State passing game. It probably didn't hurt that the Maryland defensive front dominated against a legitimately awful Nittany Lions offensive line, with Ngakoue, Keith Bowers and Andre Monroe, in particular, getting loads of penetration.
  • An anemic offense. The Terps did what they had to do on their final drive, which set up Brad Craddock's winning field goal. But they averaged just 2.9 yards per play themselves, and C.J. Brown more or less repeated his worst effort of the year from a week earlier against Wisconsin. The Terrapins averaged 4.2 yards per Brown passing attempt, just down from a previously season-worst 4.4 against the Badgers. Brown made a few nice throws that got dropped, including potentially big gainers to Amba Etta-Tawo and Marcus Leak. I don't think anyone expects Brown to be even an average thrower in his final three games, but Maryland has averaged 3 yards more per attempt over the whole season than in each of the last two games. They need to get back to a more reasonable clip against Michigan State, Michigan and Rutgers. Not everything can continually fall on the defense.
  • An outstanding college town. Maryland and Penn State didn't get along especially well on Saturday, but I found State College to be a fun town full of really nice people. I'd been there a few times before, but never for a football game, and I loved the experience. The university's reputation took a pretty brutal hit when the horrors of Jerry Sandusky came to light a few years ago, but that story belies the general kindness of the vast majority of people in Happy Valley and the scenic beauty of the area. It's the kind of place where almost every tailgater will offer you a hot dog, where Halloween parties are open and festive and football crowds are loud. Maryland won't play another game at Beaver Stadium for two years, but I can't be emphatic enough in endorsing State College as a traveling destination. When an opportunity arises, make the drive. (By the way, the press box breakfast and lunch spreads were phenomenal.)
What we're looking for this week:
  • Not much. It's another bye week for the Terrapins, their second in a month and last of the season. Edsall said the program will have recruiters around the Washington area and elsewhere throughout the bye. The current Maryland players will have a few days off at the start of the week, after which time they'll reconvene and start preparing for Michigan State.