Reporting Brendan Darr
With everything building up before this game – the new coach, the new uniforms, the scandal, the suspensions, etc. – Maryland and Miami both their share of distractions leading up to the game. Matters were complicated even more when Maryland went to change uniforms 20 minutes before the game. The Terrapins, however, responded with an Oregon-like look – and pace – to start the game. The Terps could not keep the momentum going and seemed to falter, especially once in the red zone.
The Terps red zone issues were a huge sticking point in what was otherwise a very positive post-game press conference from Coach Randy Edsall. Edsall did call the mistakes “correctable” and said he expected them to be fixed by the time of the West Virginia game. Maryland finished the night with seven trips to the red zone, with one touchdown and four field goals.
The defense gave up big runs to running back Lamar Miller, including a 41-yard TD, and also a 37 yard pass from quarterback Stephen Morris to wide receiver Allen Hurns. With the half fast approaching, and momentum clearly swinging towards Miami, Maryland punted the ball away to the Hurricanes. Miami broke a run to the left when cornerback Cameron Chism forced the ball loose and it popped into defensive tackle Joe Vellano’s arms for the 30-yard return for a touchdown. With Miami receiving the kickoff after the half, a score before could have put the Hurricanes up eight points and getting the ball back.
Maryland sealed the win after a Chism returned an interception for a touchdown to put the Terrapins ahead for good. After the game Coach Edsall commented on the Chism interception “It was great he picked it off, but he should have gone down. I was screaming on the sideline for him to go down”. Edsall also called it “a teachable moment”.
The game was only part of the discussion, the twitter universe exploded when Maryland came out of the tunnel with their new jerseys. The Jersey, which incorporated the Maryland state flag on the helmet, arms, and shoes. Maryland fans seemed to overwhelmingly enjoy the surprise jerseys, while outsiders generally didn’t. Personally, I enjoyed them, and I also enjoyed knowing that a surprise was going to happen courtesy of Eric Bickel of the Sports Junkies. You’ll note that was 4+ hours before the game.
I'm hearing the Terps are going to be wearing one thing…then changing 20 minutes before the game into something totally different.—
Eric Bickel (@EBJunkies) September 05, 2011
The players also raved about the jerseys. QB Danny O’Brien – who threw for 348 yards on 31 of 44 attempts – said that he loved the jerseys. When informed that LeBron James commented on them, he got a big smile and said “Oh wow, that’s awesome” until he found out what James had said was negative, but noted “Well, all publicity is good publicity”.
That’s one great way to describe tonight. The final game of the first week of the season, no competition from any other live sporting events, and Maryland came out with a win. More importantly the Terps showcased a packed house, new uniforms, and a fun style of football for the entire country to see in prime time. The University, and more importantly, the state and people of Maryland were on display tonight, and the men at the University of Maryland didn’t disappoint one bit.
Despite the rain, despite the scandal surrounding the game, despite the pageantry of the uniform release, Maryland rose above and came out with a win. Maryland has next week off before hosting what should be a 2-0 – and a top-20 ranked – West Virginia squad. It will be tough to gauge how tough West Virginia is, based off 3 quarters of play against Marshall and what should be a cake walk against Norfolk State.
At the end of the night what should Maryland fans take away from this game:
- The Offense will be exciting. – Maryland’s offense played at a fast pace tonight. QB Danny O’Brien noted that they ran 49 plays in the first half, which is what they normally ran in three-quarters under the old regime.
- The old playbook is gone but not forgotten. – Maryland OC Gary Crowton called a lot of Wide Receiver screens and a few draw plays. So while the offense will be much faster paced, it will still have a similar look.
- The defense needs to improve. – Yes, the defense had two touchdowns. But the defense also played very loose in coverage and didn’t bring a lot of pressure.
- The Kickoff units, both coverage and returns, need improvement. – Justus Pickett had a tough night getting any sort of return going, with just 78 yards on 5 returns, with a long of 17. That’s an average of 15.6, which I don’t think I need to tell you is terrible. Meanwhile, Miami averaged 23.8 yards per return and constantly started past the 30, thanks to poor coverage and short kickoffs from Nick Ferrara.
- One final uniform update – Maryland uniforms from here on out will be decided by the captains, so we have them you have them to thank/blame for uniform combinations from here on out. I’d expect the Maryland Pride uniforms of tonight maybe one more time (maybe West Virginia or Virginia?).
- Darin Drakeford injured his left ankle, but said with ice and relaxation he should be fine. S Eric Franklin confirmed on twitter that he had serious cramps, but is fine.http://twitter.com/#!/MrFranklin48/status/110931140734492673
Leaving Defensive End Isiah Ross as the likely candidate for Surgery that Coach Edsall hinted at, and will confirm tomorrow.
What did you think of the Game, Uniforms or anything else? Leave Your comments below. Follow Brendan Darr on twitter: @BrendanDarr1067