Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Terps in giving mood

With Thanksgiving only a few days away Maryland was feeling very generous on Saturday. They gave Boston College four turnovers in doing their best to allow BC to lock up a decent bowl invite and 2nd place in the "Atlantic division"(a ridiculous contrivance of the league office). It worked, and Maryland fell in a 31-16 clunker on senior day. The Eagles were also in a giving mood for their first visit to College Park in almost 20 years, turning the ball over three times. The first half was a comedy of errors for both teams. They combined for two fumbles and two interceptions and BC's special teams were a nightmare with a blocked punt and a two tries at a field goal to end the half that both missed. It was a dreadful performance by both squads but their mutual errors kept the game close.

As often happens, the better teams wins out after halftime. Boston College's staff made adjustments to their game plan and out scored Maryland 17-6 in the critical 4th quarter. After 4 drives of over 7 plays in the first half Maryland could only muster one in the final two quarters. Maryland converted 5/9 third downs in the first half and only 3/9 after the break. Time of possession showed the same sort of flip as the Terps held the ball for 19 minutes in the first half and only 13 minutes in the second. This has become the familiar story for Maryland's offense this year as the opponent makes adjustments and Maryland is unable to counter with any effective playcalling.

Sam Hollenbach had his worst game of the season, without question. Two of his turnovers directly resulted in two touchdowns and he threw another interception in the endzone, which deprived Maryland of at least a field goal attempt. Sam made some terrible decisions that bailed out the Eagles in the 1st half after several critical turnovers that could have turned the tide of the game in Maryland's favor. Boston College was extremely aggressive in blitzing, probably close to half the time, and that gave Maryland's pass protection all kinds of problems. Hollenbach was knocked down around a dozen times and sacked 4 times on 45 pass attempts. The pass protection was shaky and RT Brandon Nixon again struggle to pass block. For some reason the staff had him blocking All American DE Mathias Kiwanuka one-on-one on several plays including a early third down in BC territory that resulted in a sack knocking them out of field goal range.

Hollenbach strikes me as very similar to Drew Bledsoe. He is slightly more mobile than Bledsoe, it's close to impossible to be less mobile Drew. Still, Sam holds onto the ball like he's in a 7-on-7 drill with no pass rush sometimes and has a knack for turning the ball over at the worst possible time. Don't misunderstand, I think Bledsoe is a decent quarterback and I think Sam is without a doubt the best QB on the roster at the moment. You can't bench him since you have no one to put in his place. Joel Statham came into the game and promptly threw an interception on his first and only attempt. If the staff was trying to just protect Hollenbach from getting injured in a lost cause it would make sense to replace him, but it seemed it was an attempt to jump start something on offense. It was obvious that Sam was struggling but this has to be one of the dumbest moves I've seen Fridge make in his time here. It seemed to indicate total blind desperation and his quote after the game was inexplicable, "I just felt like somebody else needed to try. It didn't take me long to figure out that wasn't the answer.". This is the same coach who stuck with Statham game after horrid game with such stubborn doggedness you wondered what on earth he was thinking.

Lance Ball again proved why he should be the starting running back going into next season. He posted 135 yards on 28 carries for a 4.8 yard per carry average. His 65 yard scamper in the 4th quarter kept Maryland on life support and was the big play Maryland really needed. He's staking his claim to the job for next season as well.

The defense played the same bend-don't-break style they have all year. It worked to a certain extent in that they shut out BC for two quarters, the 2nd and 3rd, and forced three turnovers including two in Maryland territory. Then in the 4th quarter with the offense unable to string together any drives the defense wilted and was plowed under by BC's running attack. The defense gave up 80 yards on the ground in the 4th quarter alone and over 220 for the day. The defensive line was totally unable to control the line of scrimmage and allowed BC linemen to get to the second level and block Maryland's linebackers and safeties. Maryland could only muster one sack(on an intention grounding penalty) and one QB hurry the entire game. Gerrick McPhearson again gave up a big play, this time trying to cover BC's WR Will Blackmon. Senior SS Milton Harris had another excellent game with 12 tackles.

Quick Grades
Quarterback D
Runningback B
Receivers C
Offensive Line C
Defensive Line D+
Linebackers C+
Secondary C+

Maryland ends the season with an inexplicable 1-4 record at home.

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