Monday, October 23, 2006

Terps take next step

Maryland took a step closer to being bowl eligible with a 26-20 win over nemesis NC Sate. Standing at 5-2 Maryland has now equaled their win total in each of the last two seasons and probably only needs to win two of its final five games to secure a bowl bid. It is a good thing too since the schedule makers didn't do Maryland any favors in the last five weeks of the season. The remaining opponents for Ralph Friedgen's squad are a combined 28-8 so far this season. Of that group Florida State and Miami are the two weakest opponents. But that is something to worry about next week when the Seminoles come to College Park.

Maryland was again out gained by their opponent yet still managed to win the game, mostly because of three NC State turnovers. NC State had more total yards, more first downs and had an amazing 14 play advantage on offense over Maryland. The Terps kept turnovers from being their normal bugaboo and only suffered one fumble by Josh Wilson. The offense played another vanilla gameplan well. They ran the ball well with Lance Ball and Keon Lattimore but it was the unexpected scampers by Sam Hollenbach that was a new dimension in the offense. Sam Hollenbach admitted after the game that he managed the game at quarterback which was evidenced by his 9 passing attempts, with only three passes in the entire second half. Coach Friedgen still seems to lack trust in his passing game. In the coming weeks he won't be able to play the conservative dink and dunk style against defenses like Clemson, Miami and Florida State. The defense bent all game long but got some timely turnovers to give the offense some great opportunities to score. The run defense continued to be porous giving up large chunks of yardage to Andre Brown and Toney Baker but Maryland did show more ability to rush the passer and force the opposing quarterback into mistakes. Some of that pressure came from multiple blitz packages and it would be nice to see some of the front four getting pressure on the quarterback.

Quarterback: B+
Sam Hollenbach only threw nine passes but showed some determination and leadership. He had several nice playfakes and rushed for 62 yards adding a new wrinkle to his game. It does make me nervous to have Hollenbach running around but it worked on Saturday.

Tailbacks: B-
Keon Lattimore showed had some nice receptions on screens but his running was sub par. Lance Ball was the workhorse again. He showed some good vision and rarely gets dropped for a loss. Neither back piled up big numbers but ran well enough to win.

Offensive Line: B+
The line is shaping up and has shown more consistency from early in the season. The line helped grind out 165 yards on the ground and displayed a toughness that had been lacking all season. There was one sack allowed on only 9 passing attempts and one holding penalty by Jared Gaither. Overall it was one of the better performances of the year. The gameplan also helped minimize the line's weaknesses

Receivers: C+
With only 9 pass attempts the receivers were not much of a factor in the game. They did a decent job of blocking down field.

Defensive Line: C
The line got blown off the ball too many times. NC State enjoyed great success running the football due to the lack of penetration by the down linemen. Phil Costa was placed in the LEO position in an attempt to generate some pass rush. None of the interior players seem to be able to anchor against the run.

Linebackers: B
Erin Henderson came up with another big play for the second week in a row. He seems to have some of his older brother's flare for making big plays in critical moments. His interception in the second half helped to give Maryland a 20-0 cushion. Wesley Jefferson is solid and makes the plays you expect him to but doesn't produce much more than that.

Secondary: C+
Josh Wilson had two sacks but also fumbled a kickoff at a critical part of the game. The secondary didn't play very badly but didn't play well either. JJ Justice did manage to get an interception late in the game on a Daniel Evans pass that was thrown up for grabs. The secondary will have to improve its safety play with the potent Florida State passing offense coming to town.

Special Teams: A-
Dan Ennis hit all four of his field goals and Obi Egekeze had three touchbacks on seven kickoffs. Adam Podlesh was his normal stellar self averaging 48 yards per punt. The only blemish was a 65 yard punt return for a touchdown that gave the Wolfpack a chance to come back.

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