The Maryland Terrapins entered this season knowing full well that they would be a young team, and would be prone to mistakes. However, I’m not sure they could have anticipated the start they got off to.
“The young guys, you never know how they’re going to play in their first game, but they are going to be better in the future.” Coach Randy Edsall said after the game.
Edsall was very complimentary of his young players, noting that he never considered benching Quarterback Perry Hills during the game.
“Nope. Never crossed our minds. Sometimes kids have to play through things.”
The willingness to stick with Hills paid off, as he was able to convert a critical third down on the touchdown drive. On 3rd and 8 from the William & Mary 36-yard line, Hills threw a pass across his body back to Wide Reciever Kevin Dorsey. Dorsey did the rest after the catch on the screen pass, picking up 22 yards for Maryland’s biggest offensive play of the day.
Dorsey said after the game “The biggest goal was to get the first down, just make sure you get at least 9 yards.”
Dorsey also made mention of the team simplifying things for Hills in the second half to take advantage of his strengths and cut down on the mistakes. One of those mistakes was a slant route that Dorsey ran, Hills didn’t anticipate Dorsey running underneath the receiver and overthrew him.
Dorsey said “I just told him, my job is to protect you. If it is an in-breaking route I’m always going to go underneath the defender, even if that means I have to take a big hit from a defender.”
Dorsey is one of the leaders on this team, and even though he only had one reception and a handful of targets, he is a vocal leader and helps in the blocking game. He made it clear that he is here to make Perry Hills look good, and will do whatever it takes to help the team win.
Dorsey was a mentor to Stefon Diggs this summer, and it seemed as though Diggs picked up a few things from the his elder statesman. Blocking is one thing Dorsey can do to make an impact even when he isn’t getting the ball in his hands, and Diggs had a crucial block in the first half to help spring a big play.
Diggs was electric all night, and every time he touched the ball it was must-see football for Terrapins fans. After the team ran on the field, all the loudest cheers came when Diggs was touching the football. Diggs had one of the plays of the day on his 23-yard punt return. He made a few guys miss before he broke off a nice chunk of yardage before ultimately being taken down.
Edsall talked about needing to get Diggs the ball and mentioned that he wanted to get him at least 10 offensive touches. He only got eight, so they fell a little short, but in the future I would expect his workload to increase significantly.
The defense held up their end of the bargain, limiting William & Mary to just six points off the four turnovers. In fact, you could argue outside of Cornerback Dexter McDougle, everyone excelled today.All-American Joe Vellano had another impressive performance with 11 tackles, two of which were for loss.
McDougle said after the game it was the worst game of his career, but his teammates wouldn’t let him give up. McDougle was called for three Pass Interference calls, and was beat deep a few times. He said it was all fundamentals and they were correctable mistakes.
This team won’t be so lucky in the future against better opponents, but this defense should be able to keep them in most games — or at least not them get completely out of hand. The offense has a long way to go, especially at Running Back, but if Hills can cut down on the interceptions and get the ball out to a talented group of receivers they can at least improve as an offense.
Maybe that means inserting Wes Brown at Running Back. With starter Brandon Ross out with an injury, Edsall mentioned the other three would get a chance to play. Brown only saw playing time on special teams. Meanwhile, Justus Pickett and Albert Reid combined for 23 carries and just 74 yards. Brown was highly touted coming out of Good Counsel, but Randy Edsall said he, “Was hoping we could see Wes [Brown] today, bit the situation didn’t call for it.”
I don’t know what that situation is, but if beating a FCS program 7-6 at home isn’t it and getting nothing from the ground game isn’t it, I don’t know what is. Whatever it is, the Terps will have a week to figure everything out offensively before their game against Temple, a team that beat them 35-7 at Byrd Stadium last year. One thing is for certain, the schedule only gets tougher from here on out.
Follow Brendan on twitter for more information on the Terps: @BrendanDarr