1. Defense, defense, defense
One week after getting utterly gashed on the ground by Syracuse and two weeks after allowing 700 yards to WVU, Maryland held Indiana — the best statistical rushing team of the three — to just 70 first-half rushing yards in an outstanding performance. Indiana rolled up some rushing yards in the second half, but you can attribute some of that to Maryland laying back to kill clock with a big lead. Overall, the defensive front got great pressure and containment across the line, the linebacking corps looked good led by a flying-around Cole Farrand and a few nice standout moments by L.A. Goree the Yannicks too, and Sean Davis, Anthony Nixon and Will Likely were beastly at the forefront of a very nice showing by the secondary.
2. Diggs, Diggs, Diggs
2014 has been a somewhat tough ride for Stefon Diggs so far, mostly, I would offer, because of the immense defensive attention he receives that has opened up opportunities for guys like Marcus Leak in past weeks. Well, Diggs broke out of that box in Bloomington. He had 72 yards and a touchdown by the half, he had an electric long gain on a WR screen pass and he also showed great blocking skills on C.J. Brown's early TD run. Diggs finished with 6 catches for 112 yards and a touchdown. (As an aside: 10-108 for Deon Long too!). Was it a GIF-esque Diggs performance? Not really, but he began to consistently shake loose and make noise, maybe in part because Leak has forced defenses to account for him now, too. Expect more of the same in the coming weeks. Diggs is just too good to stay quiet for too long.
3. Mike Locksley's play-calling has been really good the past two weeks
There were a lot of plays to love on Saturday. The offense exploited some openings early for a 3-0 lead, then some other really nice moments came one after the other as the game wore on — the mid-range pass down the seam that Derrick Hayward dropped; that reverse rush by Deon Long in which Diggs was used effectively as a decoy; C.J. Brown's 2nd-quarter TD run behind beautiful blocking from Michael Dunn, Diggs and P.J. Gallo; the WR screen to Diggs with Leak blocking that went for 37 yards; Wes Brown lining up in the slot (!) and reeling in a 38-yard bomb; the game-breaking screen pass for a TD to Brandon Ross in the 3rd — that Locksley gets the credit for. These were not gambles or Hail Mary plays, they were designed plays. Locksley is often maligned as a play-caller, but last week's game plan at Syracuse was spot on, then this week's vs. Indiana was just as impressive without being at all similar. Props, Locks! Now go reel in Byron Cowart, Ryan Davis, Isaiah Prince and Quarvez Boulware and we'll all worship at your altar like the good old days.
4. The AMQBHG strikes again
Those of you who had seen enough of C.J. Brown got a good look at his backup, Caleb Rowe, who unexpectedly opened the second half under center for the Terps. Unfortunately, Rowe's appearance was by necessity, not by choice, as it was an apparent wrist injury that sidelined CJB, who had been — undeniably — pretty darn sharp in the first half. Fortunately, Rowe didn't miss a beat, leading Maryland on a march down the field on his second series, which he punctuated with a 36-yard TD pass to Brandon Ross that pretty much put the game on ice. Rowe later found Juwann Winfree — Juwann Winfree!! — from 30 yards out in another beauty of a play. Maryland's two passers were a combined 22-of-33 for 361 yards, three touchdowns and no picks. Great, great day.
5. Don't go to sleep on Brandon Ross
There's been much discussion this season about giving more work to Wes Brown and less to Brandon Ross, but Saturday's game was a reminder that Ross has a definite place in Maryland's offense and that there's a reason he's been the starter for 2 years. Ross's rushing was a key to Maryland's early scoring drives. At the half, Ross had 61 yards on just five carries. Then, in the third quarter, he had his second long receiving TD on a screen pass of the season (capitalizing on fantastic downfield blocking once again, this time by Dunn and Silvio Altamirano). Ross is Maryland's most fluid runner. He follows the plays, has good burst, good vision and good breakaway speed too. I'm really not trying to provoke you Wes Brown supporters out there — I like Brown too, and he has great value and a clear role, just like Ross does — but I'll say it anyway: Brandon Ross is Maryland's best running back right now.
6. The Terps were ready to play early
For the second straight week, Maryland opened the game reflecting purpose and preparation, and the Terps marched down the field to take an early lead. Almost certainly, the Brown-to-Long connection on the first offensively play, followed by the two long Ross rushes, were opportunities that Maryland's coaches found based on film work and scouting. They set up a 48-yard field goal by Brad Craddock for a 3-0 lead -— and more importantly, a strong start and positive momentum out of the gate. Then the Terps' defense stood tall on Indiana's first possession and got a stop. So well done, O ... and well done, D! Especially at the coaching level. Maryland had a troubling tendency of terrible starts (USF, WVU, just about all of 2013) so that's something that won't be missed at all if in fact the Terps have begun to outgrow it. Even when you're underdogs or overmatched, you should be able to play a couple good series based on scheming and preparation before inherent advantages or mismatches start to play out, one way or the other. The last two weeks, Maryland has both started well and followed through.
7. Maryland just won two straight road games convincingly as underdogs against Power Five teams with winning records
Life is good right now, folks, so please, I'm begging, try and appreciate the good times a little bit because we've been all too familiar with the bad ones in recent years. Enjoy this win for the rest of the weekend, then start getting super-stoked for next Saturday, when Byrd will be rocking for Ohio State.
In the meantime, Saturday's resounding road win can serve as an introductory statement of sorts to our new B1G neighbors: We are Maryland. Fear the Turtle.