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Monday, September 8, 2008

Middle Tennessee State? Ouch...


The people have spoken: The blog is back. And we're talking Terps.

Unfortunately.

For those of you that don't follow too closely, Maryland was embarrased Saturday night by the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders. Also for those of you who don't follow too closely, I don't blame you. Who wants to watch this team?

There are good points, but the bad news is that the two good points are only two players - Darrius Heyward-Bey (an 80-yard TD) and Da'Rel Scott (123 yards and a 63-yard TD).

The bad points are team problems:

- QUARTERBACK PLAY: Many Maryland students spent a lot of their time during the first three quarters of the Delaware game booing Jordan Steffy and calling openly for Chris Turner. First of all, I hate when people start chants against their own team, especially when it's about someone ON THE FIELD. Secondly, don't you feel foolish now? Turner showed an inability to make good throws on Saturday, but beyond that, he showed a shallow understanding of offensive plays by locking on to receivers with his eyes and forcing throws to receivers who weren't open. Hence, three interceptions for Sunshine.

Similarly, backup QB Josh Portis showed poor decision making by tucking and running Tavaris Jackson-style every time he had to stand in the pocket for more than one second.

This is speculation, but it seems as though the three-headed quarterback battle backfired. No one seems to know new coordinator James Franklin's playbook. This isn't going to correct itself before Maryland plays Cal this Saturday (and look what they did in their game this week).

- PASS BLOCKING: Perhaps I'm not being fair to the quarterbacks given that they had to scramble so often in the backfield. I'm referring to the fact that it seems as though our offensive line doesn't know how to block on passing downs. Any offensive lineman will tell you run blocking is much more "fun" because the big uglies can just run at the defense and push them out of the way, creating running lanes. So far, we've done well with this aspect. However, the tables turn when the O-Line is forced to stop pass rushers from getting to the QB. It's a much more difficult aspect of the game, one the Terps are not very good at.

The Blue Raiders racked up 3 sacks during the game. On one specific play, the defense bull-rushed Chris Turner (meaning they just charged trying to push the offensive line over). Three linemen missed their blocks almost completely, and Turner got taken out by a linebacker who was going one-on-one with either Edwin Williams or one of the guards. Not very good at all.

- PASS RUSH: On the other side of the ball, it's pretty sad when your D-I line can't manage a single sack at all against a mid-major opponent. It comes down to girth. Last year, Dre Moore (who went on to be drafted and subsequently cut by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) created an inside presence at least some of the time with his 305 lbs. Our best defensive tackle this year is Jeremy Navarre, who weighs 280 lbs and used to be a defensive end. Ick. I love Navarre's hustle and motor, but he isn't big enough to be the anchor in the Terps line, at least in the middle. We've recruited bigger bodies, but they're all probably a year away from seeing playing time.

In addition, the linebackers (Adrian Moten, Dave Philistin, etc.) seem unable to find the gaps in the blocking scheme or let QB Joe Craddock (doesn't he look kind of like a serial killer in the photo?) escape their grasp. Even against Delaware, Maryland didn't ring up one sack in the stat column. On the other hand, there were five tackles for a loss in the MTS game, so maybe some hope exists that the Terps can get more punch inside.

- OBI: Really? 0-for-4 on the season? Who misses 4 field goals in a row? I know Obi Egekeze is better than that, and he's really got a lot of leg, but hitting the crossbar multiple times is simply not acceptable, and the Terps don't have another suitable kicker on their roster (I believe...). Sooner or later, the Fridge is just going to go for it every 4th down, Tommy Bowden-style.

Big problems. Unfortunately for the Terps, the Golden Bears aren't going to wait for the Terps to be ready. It could be bloody when all is said and done on Saturday. I'm going to be there, but if I were Testudo, I would hide in my shell.

PERSONAL NOTE: Glad to be back, thanks for all the encouragement. In particular, I'd like to thank Viqui Dill, Karen Goldstein, Andrew Zuckerman, Melissa Weiss, Adam Fried, Kevin Robillard, Dewey Hammond and Jeff Amoros for specifically telling me to get off my butt and start the site back up.

Also, stay tuned for a possible URL change. The Terps may not be all that great right now, but I'll be here, typing away. Thanks a lot, loyal readers!

Photos courtesy of baltimoresun.com sports

3 comments:

TerpHamm said...

Good to see that the blog is back...have been reading for like a year now...go check mine out:

www.terp-crossing.blogspot.com

Brien said...

Glad to see you back! I'm not sure there's going to be a lot to cheer about this year, but I'll be there anyway.

Melissa said...

holllllla...glad to see you're back in the blogging world, goon (and also that i get a blog shoutout)