The young Terrapins fought their way back from a 10-point deficit in the final quarter and had a chance to win or tie the game on their final possession. Unfortunately for the Terps they were unable to take advantage of great field position and a fourth down pass fell incomplete in the end zone to end the threat as they would fall 24-21 to UConn. After their first two games of the season, a comeback seemed like an inevitably, but it was not meant to be.
The final drive was somewhat of a disaster as the Terps couldn’t manage to get in field goal range. After picking up a first at the UConn 32 yard line, Maryland lost three yards on a sack on first down. Kevin Dorsey dropped a crucial pass on 2nd and 13, on a play he said he said hurt the team more than anything else. On 3rd down, a bizarre play call where Perry Hills rolled to his left and threw back across the field was stopped for a four yard loss before an incompletion on fourth down ended the game.
About the drop, Kevin Dorsey said he took his eye off the ball and was more concerned about getting out-of-bounds. However, the bigger issue could have been the lack of urgency the Terps were showing on the final drive. Not to mention, the lack of a timeout on the final drive to settle down his team.
After the game, Randy Edsall was asked if he considered calling a timeout to regroup, he responded “No, I didn’t think about taking a time out there.”
A questionable move, to be sure, given his freshman Quarterback and the other young players out there on the field. Quarterback Perry Hills was looking back over to the sideline every play, something Edsall said the team struggled with in practice and would need to improve on in the future.
The combination of issues on the final drive was the Terps undoing, but Freshmen will make mistakes and the learning curve is steep. Everyone after the game was quick to defend Hills performance, and chalking it up to a combination of freshman mistakes and it being a team game.
“He [Perry Hills] was hard on himself today because he didn’t think he played as well as he could have.” Edsall said about his Freshman signal-caller, he continued “We have tremendous confidence in him and he will get better, just like all of us.”
After the game Hills looked like a guy who was taking the loss harder than everyone else.
“The two-minute drill I need to improve on. This whole week I’m going to prepare like I’ve never prepared before. I never accept losing. I don’t like losing, but I promise I will prepare like I have never prepared before for next week.” Hills said.
Hills was also quick to complement freshman receiver Stefon Diggs. “He’s a great player and I’m very lucky to have him on my team; I’m glad to have him on my team.”
Diggs was all over the field Saturday afternoon making plays. He finished the game with 12 touches (5 punt returns, 3 kick returns, 3 receptions and a carry) for 223 yards, including a 29-yard Touchdown reception — the first of his career.
“It was one of those plays where I saw the ball in the air and went over there in case it was a tipped ball and it just happened to be the case that the ball fell in my hands.” Diggs continued, “I never thought my first collegiate touchdown would be that way.”
Diggs adds another dimension to this offense, one it desperately need. It is still a mystery how he can finish the game with only three catches and one rushing attempt on offense. However, the spark he provides on special teams is just as important, he joked that eventually he may call for a fair catch, but just can’t right now.
When asked about his role on the team, Diggs said “I don’t plan on my role changing. I just plan on progressing every week in practice for the games. I want to do my job.”
His role may have to change after Saturday as it is clear he is special. In the press box during the game, everyone from UConn could be heard saying nothing but complimentary things about Diggs and how impressed they were with him. He’s clearly a special talent, but one that isn’t getting enough opportunities to show off that talent.
Coach Edsall addressed Diggs position on the team after the game noting “Stefon is a very dynamic player, as you could see today.” He continued “We have to continually try and get him the ball, which should create more opportunities for other people.”
Maryland also may have found the answer to their question at Running Back as Wes Brown emerged today for 74 yards on 14 carries. The most impressive part was not his 19 yard touchdown, it is actually his lack of a negative play. Brown, despite being hit in the backfield constantly, never had a rushing attempt go for negative yardage. It was a promising sign after his disappointing debut against Temple, where he had two fumbles.
When asked what he did differently this week he smiled, laughed and said “Two hands.”
The defense will be lost in the shuffle after the disappointing end, but they held UConn to just 223 total yards today and forced the Huskies to punt seven times. Linebacker Darin Drakeford may have had the play of the game when he tracked down UConn Quarterback Chandler Whitmer from behind and forced a fumble.
The loss drops the Terrapins to 2-1 on the season, but the loss will be one that stings given the opportunity they had to win the game. It becomes even more painful given their next opponent, #9 West Virginia, one of the Terps biggest rivals. The team will have to get over the pain of losing Saturday and begin to prepare for the Mountaineers.
Obviously, with Edsall facing his former team emotions ran high, expect a post tomorrow about that — including how Edsall could face his former team, but call them Syracuse in the post-game press conference. For more information or to continue the debate, follow Brendan on Twitter: @BrendanDarr