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A Clockwork Orange: It's the Tuesday Morning PUNter!

The Terps beat the Syracuse Orange 34-20 in a rare and bizarrely one-sided road win on Saturday. Let's take another look at the game and as always, prepare for puns and pop culture references!

Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

A Clockwork Orange

Watching Maryland football this year has been an arduous activity. We have had highs and lows and at times, it has been tough to watch the product on the field. It can seem torturous at times but like Alex (played by Malcolm McDowell) in Stanley Kubrick's 1971 cult classic film, we're going to have to keep watching. For better or for worse. Right now things appear to be looking up. I only hope that we don't have a different outlook next week but that is the curse of being sports fans.

Bend like the Reed (part two)

I like the Confucius quote and Aesop's fable about the Oak and the Reed and thought it was apropos here. I praised the Maryland defense for giving up over 500 yards passing and almost 700 yards of offense and only allowing 40 points. On Saturday we saw more of the same. Syracuse ran for 370 yards and picked up nearly 600 yards of offense but only managed to score 20 points. I was even more impressed because Maryland's linebacker corps was not completely healthy. The question will be whether Maryland can maintain this bend but don't break defense.

Orange Crush

Maryland's offense came alive on Saturday which was a sight for sore eyes. Maryland avoided their usual slow start and got after the Orange, scoring on back to back drives in the first quarter to give the Terps a 14-3 lead. C.J. Brown (I'll talk about him later) threw a beautiful pass to Marcus Leak for Maryland's first score and then Maryland got some fantastic blocking on the outside which turned a routine screen pass to Brandon Ross into a 90 yard touchdown pass. Maryland racked up 31 points by halftime, courtesy of a blocked punt and a Will Likely pick-six. What was discouraging to me was the conservative play-calling in the second half. After scoring 24 offensive points in the first half, Maryland was held to only 3 points in the second half. They will have to perform better when teams make adjustments and they certainly can't get too conservative when hanging onto leads.

Run this Town

Jay and Rev-Run (That's right! A pun and a Run-DMC reference!) would have shaken their heads at Maryland's run-D last week. The Maryland run defense got shredded on Saturday after having been very effective through their first three games. Prince-Tyson Gulley averaged almost 10 yards per carry, racking up 138 yards on only 14 carries. Syracuse as a team ran for 370 yards! That is an awful lot but since Maryland jumped out to an early lead, Syracuse's running attack played into Maryland's favor because the clock was Maryland's ally during the second half.

Maryland on the other hand had their worst offensive rushing performance of the season. The Terps didn't break 100 yards for the first time this season and they had their worst rushing average this season. Maryland ran for 89 yards on 32 carries for a pitiful average of 2.8 yards per carry. Jacquille Veii looks like Maryland's best running back right now and look for him to get more and more carries going forward. The numbers might have looked better but C.J. Brown was sacked a few times and that hurt the rushing totals. Maryland fans should be concerned by the lack of ability to run the ball effectively because the offensive and defensive lines in the Big Ten are very big. Maryland lost the battle on the line of scrimmage to Syracuse on both sides of the ball. It is not a good sign of possible things to come.

It's Alive! (2nd edition)

We did one for Stefon Diggs last week and we'll do one for C.J. Brown this week. Brown finally had a game with over a 60% completion rate (he got 61.5% on Saturday). It was without a doubt his best passing game of the year but he STILL managed to miss some open receivers for big gains down the field. Brown has got to hit those big plays because Maryland can ill afford to leave points on the field. Brown did a very good job of leading and managing the offense and the game in the first half but Maryland still did a very poor job of converting third downs and extending drives. Brown's touchdown throw to Marcus Leak was a beauty and it was nice to finally see the Maryland offense utilize the screen pass that I have been calling for all season long.

Maryland is 8/28 on third downs in their last two games. That is 28.6% These have been Maryland's toughest opponents so far this year. Do you think it gets easier? It doesn't. This will continue to bite Maryland if they cannot fix this problem. It requires accurate passing and it requires a good run game to set up manageable second and third downs instead of pinning the team back into third and long situations.

Unfortunately, Stefon Diggs went back to his pedestrian self on Saturday with six catches for 56 yards. I can't help but imagine the kind of destruction that Caleb Rowe and Diggs might wreak on opponents next season, if the receiver stays around. Deon Long however has to resign himself to what might be a very long and unproductive season. I feel for Long, who only had one catch for 13 yards against the Orange. He only has 11 catches through four games for 142 yards. It is sad. Through four games it appears that Diggs and Long are not as much targets for C.J. Brown as much as they are decoys for Marcus Leak. That needs to change if the Terps want to continue the success they have had so far this season.

Battlefield

I thought I'd throw in Jordin Sparks' hit single because of all of the injuries that we saw on Saturday. Maryland players survived the carnage for the most part during this game. However, Andrew Isaacs, the starting tight end, had a gruesome, season-ending injury where he dislocated his knee. Maryland also lost starting defensive end Quinton Jefferson for the year as he will undergo knee surgery for the injury he sustained in the West Virginia game. Keith Bowers started for him in the Syracuse game and he has a lot of playing experience but Maryland has to be concerned that the injury bug is around the corner, ready to strike this team yet again. The two starters weren't the only ones knocked out, as reserve linebacker Cavon Walker will also miss the rest of the season.

Big Things Poppin'

T.I. time! Maryland's special teams continue to impress and if you look at Dave Tucker's piece, they are ranked among the top teams nationally in the category. Anthony Nixon's punt block makes it three blocked kicks for Maryland on the year (two punts and one field goal) and Brad Craddock continues to be Mr. Automatic kicking field goals for the Terps. I think there are probably only a few kickers that I would put above him nationally right now. He will be in the conversation for the Lou Groza Award this year.

Maryland is about to play its first Big Ten conference game this Saturday in Bloomington, Indiana. The Hoosiers just went to Columbia and knocked off #18 Missouri of the SEC, scoring the go-ahead touchdown with under 30 seconds left in the game.

What exactly is a Hoosier?

I took a visit to Indiana when I was looking at where I wanted to go to college and they had a promotional video where they asked, "What is a Hoosier?" After watching the video I still had no idea and no one can actually tell you what in the heck a Hoosier is. Here is what we do know about the Hoosiers though:

They can run the ball. Syracuse averaged over 200 yards a game on the ground before playing Maryland. Indiana averages over 300 yards per game on the ground coming into the game. With Maryland's lack of success stopping Syracuse, this could spell trouble for the Terps.

They are inconsistent. They lost at Bowling Green (this is the same Bowling Green that got waxed in Week 1 by Western Kentucky and gashed for 644 rushing yards by Wisconsin in a blowout loss last week) in a shootout even with a bye week to help them. They only beat weakling Indiana State 28-10 at home in Week 1. Then they go on the road to a ranked SEC opponent and win late. Like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get when it comes to Indiana.

They can score. This one has shootout potential written all over it. Maryland averages 36.8 points per game and Indiana averages 33.7. Expect to see a lot of touchdowns on Saturday.