By now, everybody and their mother knows that Maryland football beat Texas for the second year in a row. The game was entertaining, emotional and extremely long.
There were several key plays that contributed to the Terps eventually coming out victorious. Some of those were scoring plays; some of them were not. As such, some of them stand out more than others, while some were just highlight plays.
Here are some elements you may have missed from four key plays in the game.
Jake Funk’s blitz pickup, Kasim Hill’s look-off and Texas defensive backs colliding on Jeshaun Jones’ receiving touchdown
This play in and of itself is a not something anybody would have missed, but several details made this play come together the way it did. First is Funk’s blitz pickup. The junior running back comes across the formation to stymie a safety blitz for just long enough for Hill to slide to the right and up in the pocket before lofting the ball over the secondary to a wide-open Jones.
But how Jones got open is an example of having a perfectly designed play dialed up at exactly the right time. Texas is playing Cover 1 defense with man coverage underneath. The safety is responsible for the deepest route.
Initially, Hill looks at tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo running across the middle of the field. This freezes the safety and even gets him to take a couple steps away from the eventual target.
In looking off the safey, Hill buys time for Jones and DJ Turner to get vertical after crossing paths about five yards beyond the line of scrimmage. That cross made the cornerbacks covering the duo run into each other and sprung Jones running free down the middle of the field.
The brilliance of running three deep routes against a single-high safety is the key to this touchdown. He has to choose one, and in this instance, he chose the wrong one for just long enough.
Tino Ellis proving his worth as a cover corner
Ellis was ranked the No. 1 corner in the country by Pro Football Focus after his Week 1 performance against Texas, and it was easy to see why. After committing to Maryland as a receiver in the Class of 2016, Ellis has played exclusively defense (and special teams) during his time in College Park. His transition from a four-star receiver to a top-rated cornerback came to a head against Texas.
At 6’1, 195 pounds, Ellis is a long and lean corner. It showed Saturday as he blanketed 5’11, 210-pound Devin Duvernay on third and long. In straight man coverage, Ellis won head-to-head, using speed, strength and quickness to never lose contact with Duvernay.
Darnell Savage was ... Savage
The leader of the Terps’ secondary finished the day with six tackles, two of which came behind the line of scrimmage. One of those tackles he made for a loss stood out because of how far he had to go to make the play.
Savage starts the play in man coverage against the slot receiver at the top of the screen; that’s why he was in position to make this play. As D’Shawn Jamison loops back around the formation on the reverse, Savage is making his way across the field too.
Though Savage is ultimately the one to make the sweet, one-armed tackle, linebacker Ayinde Eley and BUCK Bryce Brand have this play sniffed out as well. But for a safety to start a play on the hash marks and then make a tackle on a trick play four yards deep in the opposing backfield outside the numbers on the opposite side of the field is ... ridiculous.
The play that sealed the deal
Antoine Brooks has already solidified himself as a routine playmaker and one of the most versatile and athletic members of the team. For him to make a play like this isn’t particularly surprising. But from where he was at the snap to where he made the leaping interception is a testament to the player he is.
Brooks starts this play at the 32-yard line, just off the line of scrimmage. He makes the interception at the 11.
This shows just how many ways he makes himself useful. Brooks led the team with 11 tackles, including one for a loss, en route to winning Big Ten Co-Defensive Player of the Week. He was routinely used as a quarterback spy. He’s been a linebacker, safety and nickel cornerback since he’s been at Maryland. He started this play as a potential pass rusher and ended it as a center fielder-like safety flying toward the sideline to win the game. He does everything.
And it seems like for every play he gives up in coverage, like the touchdown to Duvernay in the first quarter, he makes a play like this to make up for it.