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Maryland football: Stock report after victory in Syracuse

The Terps moved to 3-1 with a 34-20 win at the Carrier Dome on Saturday. Who's up, who's down and who's holding steady? It's our weekly stock report.

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

A few of us had an interesting discussion in the comments of last week's post about the structure of these stock reports. It was as pointed out that assessing players as "stock up" or "stock down" doesn't truly capture a player's performance on its own, nor does it parse specific differences between players. Stefon Diggs could have 200 yards and two touchdowns and be listed under "stock up," but do we really need to see that kind of stat line to realize that Diggs is a valuable asset for the Terrapins? Probably not, just like we didn't need Apple to release the iPhone 6 to realize AAPL might be a stock with some potential. It's a somewhat redundant system on its face.

We don't have any kind of accurate baseline from which to measure players, though, so my hands are tied in the way of inventing a new system from scratch. Especially given that we're now four weeks into the season, it's tough to have an IPO, of sorts, where we slap a numerical value on each player's stock and go from there. What I can do, though, is go into a bit more depth about each player's value and how it's changed from week to week. It's imperfect, but I hope it helps paint a clearer picture. And we'll have a few sub-classifications to clear things up.

With that, to the report:

Stock up

Blue chippers

William Likely: Last year, Likely took steps throughout the season and got a lot better as the Terps No 2 cornerback behind Dexter McDougle. This year, he's clearly Maryland's best defensive back and one of the finest in the Big Ten. Likely was absolutely everywhere against the Orange. He made some important tackles short of the first-down marker and chased down free Syracuse runners on the last level of the defense on a couple of plays. He made the game's defining play when he intercepted a Terrel Hunt pass at his own 12-yard line and returned it 88 yards for a touchdown, creating up to a 14-point swing. The Terps won by 14 points, and Likely's stock just keeps rising. He leads or is tied for the Big Ten lead in punt return average and interceptions. He's top-10 in passes defended and top-30 in overall tackles. It's time to stop looking at Likely as a talented prospect with upside and start looking at him as what he is: an elite defensive back and all-around playmaker.

Brad Craddock: Likely has been a big part of Maryland's special teams, but no one has been bigger to that unit than kicker Craddock. He averaged 65 yards per kickoff yesterday and was his usual two-for-two on field goals, including a 44-yarder that bounced off the left upright and in. That kick was his worst of the season, and it, you know, went in. His kickoffs averaged eight more yards than Syracuse's kickoff specialist, which gave the Terps a leg up from the start on field position for much of the afternoon. Craddock is the only starting Big Ten kicker who hasn't missed a field goal through four weeks, making all seven of his tries. He looks very much like one of college football's best kickers.

Growth stocks

Andre Powell: Given the special teams' success as a whole, it's appropriate to give plaudits to their coordinator, Powell. I have never met Powell and don't know anything about his coaching style. I do know Maryland's been superb in the following areas so far: kickoff distance, kickoff coverage, field goals, punt returning, punt and field goal defense and downfield punt coverage. Nathan Renfro has shown signs of improvement as the punter, and the unit's only serious error in four weeks was allowing a punt block against West Virginia. They have blocked kicks in three consecutive weeks, including a nice rejection of a Syracuse punt by Anthony Nixon yesterday. Maryland's going to get a lot of field position and points out of its special teams this year, and Powell, surely, deserves credit for it.

Jacquille Veii: The Terps' running back-turned-receiver went back to his ball-carrying roots on Saturday. Veii didn't have a catch, but he ran eight times for 42 yards, a 5.3-yard average. He scored a touchdown and showed an explosive first step every time he touched the ball. Perhaps Veii is working his way into a jack-of-all-trades role for Mike Locksley's offense.

Stock holding

Blue chippers

Deon Long: I don't entirely know what to make of Long's struggle to get going through four games. He has 11 catches and 142 yards this year, which is obviously underwhelming for someone of his caliber. I don't have full targeting data in front of me, but it certainly does seem like C.J. Brown has just missed him a whole bunch of times. Yesterday, Brown had Long open down the sideline for what would have been a long touchdown pass, but he overthrew him. He missed Long in space twice against West Virginia, too, and generally hasn't gotten the ball to one of his best weapons. At some point soon, Maryland needs to develop a reliable means of getting Long the football. It doesn't look like Long has done anything unordinary to lead to his slow statistical start.

High-risk, high-rewarders

C.J. Brown: As usual, we'll go through Brown's day with a fine-toothed comb later in the week. On the eye test, though, Brown did look a lot better this week than he has, even as he did make a handful of awful throws that missed open receivers or could have been easily intercepted. Brown's stats looked nice (16-for-26 for 280 yards and a touchdown), but 90 of those yards were a product of Brandon Ross and some nice receiver blocks on a first-quarter screen pass that turned into a catch-and-run score. Brown also threw the ball directly into the hands of a Syracuse defender in the second half and had it dropped, and a superb catch by Marcus Leak turned what would have been an interception into 46 yards of passing. Brown also missed missed both Diggs and Long on what could have been long touchdowns. And yet: Brown dropped a gorgeous touchdown ball into Leak's arms in the first quarter and showed more poise in the pocket than at any time this season. He'll certainly remain under center for the Terrapins.

Stock falling

Falling in a crowded market

Wes Brown: One week after Randy Edsall opted not to play him at all, Brown had two carries for six yards and one catch for seven yards against the Orange. He didn't get any carries in short-yardage situations and mostly gave way in the backfield to Ross or Veii. Maryland's listed depth chart hasn't proven to mean a lot, but Brown doesn't seem to be anywhere near the top of it.

(Note: Albert Reid didn't have any touches against Syracuse. I haven't gone through the game footage yet, but I don't believe he played at all, either. We'll keep an eye out for word on his status this week.)

(Update: A few people have pointed out that Reid did see time on special teams. Thanks, Scaletta.)

On shaky ground

Alvin Hill: The Terps' No. 2 cornerback behind Likely, Hill has had serious problems defending deep passes. He was burned for a long touchdown against West Virginia, then yesterday for a 51-yard throw down the sideline from Hunt to Jarrod West. Hill is ostensibly the least experienced member of the Maryland secondary, and offenses are targeting him as if they know that all too well. Compounding the issue, Hill was spotted on crutches after the game. Jeremiah Johnson could be a busy man against Indiana.