It’s been a few days since Maryland beat Texas 51-41 in Austin. By now, you surely know that Tyrrell Pigrome is out for the season, Jesse Aniebonam is out for several months and true freshman Kasim Hill will start at quarterback for this weekend’s Towson game, and likely beyond that.
But with these few days, I’ve had the opportunity to watch the game again ... and again ... and again ... and again.
Here are three things I noticed:
Maryland got away with fudging the rules a little bit.
It may not have been on purpose, but the Terps actually ran out the 57-75-57 combination of Richard Merritt, Terrance Davis and Seun Oluwatimi every single field goal and extra point attempt until they finally got flagged for having two players with the same number on the field at the same time with 4:29 remaining in the third quarter. Every. Time.
Zoom if you must, but here’s the proof:
Surely, this will be addressed going forward. Whether that means a permanent number change for Oluwatimi (who switched to No. 67 during the game and made a key fourth-down tackle with no nameplate) or a new member of the field goal team remains to be seen.
Maryland’s defensive line had its way with left tackle Connor Williams.
Rushing the passer is what the Terps defensive line did best last year, and to be frank, they weren’t even that good at it. Things were different Saturday.
Maryland sacked Shane Buechele five times, and while all five of those obviously aren’t on Connor Williams, he had a rough afternoon. At no point was it more evident than in the fourth quarter, with Texas hanging on by the tiniest of threads. Buechele and the Longhorns took over down 10 with 5:14 remaining. If they were going to make a comeback, it had to start now.
On second-and-4, Buechele dropped back to throw, while Chandler Burkett rushed from his blind side. With a fairly simple move, Burkett was past Williams and had a clear path to a sack; Williams had no choice but to pull him to the ground.
Later in the same drive, this time on fourth-and-14, Williams was once again the culprit of a hold. This time it deprived his team of a fourth-down conversion.
To be fair, Williams does a great job stymying Cavon Walker here for about three seconds, and it’s tough to ask for more, but a hold like this at this point in the game isn’t something you’d expect from an All-American and surefire first-round pick.
Maryland’s secondary was great.
In both man and zone coverage, the Terps’ defensive backs proved to be Maryland’s best position group Saturday. JC Jackson came down with an interception on Buechele’s first pass of the game, and at least two of the Terps’ sacks were because all his options were covered.
It was clear that Maryland’s gameplan was to keep everything underneath and come running downhill to make tackles. With the exception of a few plays here and there, that’s exactly what the Terps did. They were content to have Texas receivers catch bubble screens and short outs within five yards of the line of scrimmage and tackle them for little to no gain after the catch.
The secondary was also just as good in run support as pass coverage, and nobody was better than Antoine Brooks.
The linebacker-turned-safety-turned-nickel cornerback was all over the field Saturday. His biggest play was clearly the blocked field goal he returned for a touchdown, but the plays he made like the one above were drive killers.
Though there are still some things that have to be cleaned up going forward, the Terps’ overall performance in Austin was great. The good news is that Maryland plays an FCS opponent it should handle relatively easily Saturday and then has a bye week before playing UCF at home in Week 4.