Tuesday, October 04, 2005

From the Ashes

Perhaps it is cliched to say that a season can turn itself around in a matter of one afternoon, but that is what happened for the 2005 Maryland football team on Homecoming weekend. In a tough rivalry game the young Terps made big plays on offense and held when they needed to on defense. The momentum from a hard fought win at Wake Forest was preserved and with winless Temple next up Maryland could be well positioned at 4-2 after next weekend.

Sam Hollenbach continues to progress game to game. In spite of two early interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown, he kept his poise and riddled the Virginia defense for 320 yards and two TDs. He was an amazing 7-8 on third down and also rushed for another. Fridge hinted in the post game show that Hollenbach could blossom into a very special player. If he cut down on his interceptions he'd be the best QB in the ACC, including the delinquent in Blacksburg.

Lance Ball had a career high 163 yards and two TDs. He ran hard and protected the football. He had some large holes to run through but did a good job of coming up to the line and making a cut. Too often in the past he would plow into the back of his blockers even if there was a gap off the line. In the 4th quarter he was punishing the linebackers and secondary of Virginia. Keon Lattimore got the "start" though he wasn't on the field to start the game. The package that started the game included Lance Ball so he was out there for the first play. He posted 58 yards and made a few nice runs in the first half to get the ground game moving. His average was only 2.9 yards and his did get dropped for losses on a few occasion.

As a group they had a fantastic day. Danny Melendez set career marks with 9 catches for 125 yards and a TD. He had several clutch catches and has always been a good route runner. He was Hollenbach's favorite target on the day and he went to him often on 3rd down. Derrick Fenner had a nice catch on the sidelines and finished with 57 yards. Jo Jo Walker got obliterated on a crossing pattern, even losing his helmet in the process, but held onto the ball. He is becoming an excellent possession receiver and his toughness is without peer on the team. He even had a few nice option runs. Vernon Davis was "held" to 4 catches and 59 yards with a touchdown. He was double teamed all day and still made several big plays including a TD that was called back. The blocking of the group was excellent.

The best performance of the season. The ground out 250 yards rushing and allowed only one sack in 33 pass attempts. Hollenbach had all the time in the world to pick apart the Virginia defense and late in the game Lance Ball didn't have a hand on him till he was 4 yards down the field. Jared Gaither is living up to his lofty billing. He's quickly becoming a dominant player.

Virginia's offense still put up 26 points on the defense and without two starting OL. The order of the day was bend but don't break. The line held Virginia to 3.9 yards per carry, which is good compared to the last few games but still gave up 167 yards, mostly to Hagans' scrambles. They did account for 3 sacks on the day when Maryland blitzed Virginia often. Virginia still moved the ball with disturbing ease too often. DE Trey Covington is staying in the lineup, he added two sacks to his season total. The best pass rusher on the squad. DT Conrad Bolston had a better game and pressured Hagans a few times.

D'Qwell Jackson had another "typical" game: 14 tackles and a sack. He was always around the ball as usual. William Kershaw had his best game of the season with 7 tackles and 2 TFL. He has struggled badly but seemed more focused. David Holloway showed a new ability to blitz and came up with a sack and forced fumble. He is a good coverage LB but being able to blitz off the edge is new.

Josh Wilson got the better of his matchup with childhood friend WR Deyon Williams. He had 12 tackles (9 solo) and 3 passes defensed. Gerrick McPherson was burned on a long pass play, mostly because of his height. He's simply too short to cover the taller wideouts, regardless of his speed. The safety spots were still a little weak and the Terps need more from both positions.
A for Wilson C for everyone else

Ennis was automatic again. He is an amazing story this year. Podlesh averaged almost 50 yards a punt. The return game is still floundering. Jo Jo Walker runs sideline to sideline too much instead of cutting up field. He doesn't have breakaway speed.

Maryland debuted its black jerseys for this game, though afterwards Friedgen said that Maryland's color is red and should stay that way. He told his team they'd never wear them again if they lost, sounds like we'll see them again.

Former Maryland kicker, and ACC career points record holder, NicK Novak had a special Sunday. After attending the Maryland game on Saturday he went off to his current job as kicker for the Redskins and kicked two field goals including the game winner in overtime. His first kick was blocked, which wasn't his fault, but he righted himself and displayed the clutch mentality that he had in College Park. He had to kick the game winning field goal twice as his first successful attempt was waived off due to a delay of game penalty. After the game Novak became overcome with emotion while being interviewed in the moments after his game winning kick. After being unable to speak and bowing his head he then thanked coach Friedgen and his teammates. It was a nice moment. I have a feeling that this may lead to John Hall being moved out, especially if he cannot get healthy. Regardless Novak must have made an impression across the NFL and will likely get an opportunity somewhere else if not in Washington.

No comments: