Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Bitter Pill

The Terps played well for about 45 minutes of the game against Clemson and normally that is enough for teams to pull out a win, but they played the final 10 minutes in such a poor fashion that they frittered away a 10 point lead to Clemson. The only thing I could think watching the creamsicle clad Tiger fans celebrate was that there was no way Maryland should have lost that game. Many have turned to the well worn excuse that the Terps are a young team and their inexperience lead to costly mistakes. It is true that a few younger players, C Edwin Williams and FS Chris Varner, did make costly mistakes at the end of the game, but it was veteran upperclassmen like seniors D'Qwell Jackson, Gerrick McPhearson, and William Kershaw who made the unforgivable blunders. The three of them combined for 4 personal foul or unsportsman like conduct penalties and on all three drives they committed these infractions Clemson scored a touchdown. You should be able to expect more from the few veterans on your team.

Sam Hollenbach played well enough to win the game. He couldn't rally Maryland to another last second win but he helped put 24 points on the board and staked Maryland to a 10 point lead. He completed 18 of 28 passes along with two touchdowns and bombed the Clemson secondary for several big plays. He did turn the ball over twice, once on an interception and once on a fumble deep in Clemson territory. He was sacked several times while holding onto the ball for too long. Still, you could hardly tell this was his third career start. He had a play fake on a 4th down that was a thing of beauty.

Running Back
None of the running backs produced much. Mario Merrills had little room to run and finished with 21 yards. There were too many runs up the middle which gained little yardage. Lance Ball gained 34 yards and may see more playing time this week. Keon Lattimore did get 7 carries but wasn't much of a factor either.

Vernon Davis made himself a nice paycheck by wowing scouts with 6 catches for 140 yards and a touchdown. He shredded the Clemson defense and was almost impossible to bring down one on one. He'll be in the NFL next fall without question. Danny Melendez also made a few nice catches including a 41 yard grab and finished with a career high 75 yards. After that there isn't much to speak of as Drew Weatherly could not build on his game winning catch of last week. Jo Jo Walker was a non-factor in either the return game or as a WR. In his senior season he has produced little and will continue to relinquish playing time to younger receivers.

Offensive Line
The line struggled to open any running room and wilted against the Clemson pass rush late in the second half. Jared Gaither and Edwin Williams both saw more playing time and will be starting by the middle of the season. The coaches need Gaither to step up so they may move Derek Miller back to TE.

Defensive Line
The line got little pressure on Clemson QB Charlie Whitehurst but held the Clemson rushing game in check until the last few minutes of the game. The combination of Jeremy Navarre, Jermaine Lemons, Conrad Bolston and Jack Griffin has produced little this season. One or more players on the line will have top improve their production of the defense will continue to struggle.

William Kershaw not only has failed to make any plays this year but he added the boneheaded taunting penalty which lead to Clemson's first touchdown. He needs to be supplanted sooner rather than later by Wesley Jefferson. D'Qwell Jackson added 16 tackles which was balanced by his own personal foul penalty. David Holloway was solid but didn't make any big plays.

Gerrick McPearson again showed in spite of his 4.29 speed he is a liability. He had TWO 15 yard personal foul penaties. Chris Varner made a huge mistake on the 51 yard touchdown pass that closed the game to 24-21. Whitehurst completed 80% of his passes without any picks. The line may have provided little pass rush but late in the game they failed on the key plays in the game.

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