Saturday, December 30, 2006

Terps top Purdue

Maryland rolled to a convincing 24-7 victory in the Champs Sports bowl over the Boilermakers in the first ever meeting between the two programs. The Terps game plan was to control the time of possession and keep Purdue's high powered passing game off the field. They were able to execute that plan to perfection. Purdue never seemed in sync on offense or defense from the start of the game with two three and out drives in their first three possessions while allowing Maryland an eight and ten play drive in its first three possessions.

While Maryland never had a dominating lead it seemed that the Terps were always in firm control of the game. Sam Hollenbach had an excellent first half tacking what the Purdue defense was offering and playing off the success of the Terps rushing attack. He connected with tight end Joey Haynos for a touchdown in the first quarter and spread the ball to all of his receivers early in the game which helped keep the Boilermaker defense guessing.

The Maryland defense played perhaps the best game of the season, though it seemed the ineffectiveness of Purdue's offense had as much to do with their lack of execution as anything Maryland was doing. The high powered passing game of Purdue under quarterback Curtis Painter failed to make the big plays that they needed. Purdue's running game was a non factor in the game and failed to gain a single first down out of the 12 Purdue had on offense. Purdue managed only a paltry 21 yards on 13 carries and was unable to exploit an area that has been problematic for Maryland's defense all season.

With the Purdue ground game eliminated the Terps' pass rush reappeared for one of the few times all season. The defensive line notched 3 sacks and allowed defensive coordinator Chris Cosh to rush with only the the front four which helped the secondary to cover the talented Purdue receivers.

While the first year, and perhaps last year, of Ralph Friedgen as offensive coordinator has produced decidedly mixed results the gameplan that he crafted for this bowl game was masterful. It was a near perfect balance of run and pass in the first half. The Boilermaker defense was on its heels the entire game as Friedgen switch to a punishing ground game in the second half. You will rarely see the kind of domination in time of possession that Maryland enjoyed in the second half. Purdue's time of possession for the second half was an unbelievable six and a half minutes compared to Maryland's 23 and a half minutes. It was obvious that the preparation by the coaching staff won the game for Maryland.

It was an especially good night for a number of Maryland's seniors. Sam Hollenbach was awarded the Champs Sports bowl MVP, Josh Wilson got an interception late in the game and DT Conrad Bolston got his first full sack of the year in his last game. It was a nice finish for three of the cornerstone seniors that suffered through the last two lean seasons.

Grades

Quarterback

Sam Hollenbach had an excellent night with two touchdowns and 253 yards passing. He did not make any mistakes of significance and did a great job running the offense. It was a fitting end for a quarterback that has received too little credit for his play and far to much blame for Maryland's struggles the last few seasons, even from his own coach.
Grade: A+

Runningbacks
Lance Ball and Keon Lattimore combined for 188 yards on 28 carries. Their physical runs wore down the Purdue defense in the second half and helped salt away the win for Maryland. Fullback Cory Jackson also showed some ability as a ball carrier in addition to his punishing blocks. He scored the first touchdown of his career.
Grade: A

Receivers
Darrius Heyward-Bey made another big play in the passing game connecting with Hollenbach for a 46 yard touchdown. Danny Oquendo made some big catches and finished with 60 yards receiving. Joey Haynos is a great target in the red zone and caught a touchdown pass to start off the game.
Grade: B

Offensive Line
The line dominated an undersized Boilermaker front. Sam Hollenbach had little pressure on him the entire game and was never sacked. On the ground Maryland plowed out 212 yards and controlled the game in the second half. The final game for Stephon Heyer and Donnie Woods was memorable for both. Jared Gaither and Dane Randolph rotated at tackle as Gaither lost his starting job for now.
Grade: A+

Defensive Line
Collectively the Terps line played as well as they have all season. Bolston, Carlos Feliciano, and rising star Berrod Heggs all came up with a sack. Defensive end Jeremy Navarre also got a tackle for loss and Dre Moore helped control the line of scrimmage.
Grade: B+

Linebackers
Erin Henderson continues to establish his leadership of the group and the defense in general. His forced fumble in the 3rd quarter helped keep Purdue from gaining momentum. He also showed his ability in coverage. Wesley Jefferson had a nice game and is a good compliment to Henderson.
Grade: B

Secondary
Josh Wilson finished a distinguished career at Maryland with an interception late in the game. He helped shut down the potent Purdue receivers all game. Anthony Wiseman perhaps gave fans a glimpse of what they can look forward to next year with two pass breakups and some nice nickle and dime coverage. Safety Marcus Wimbush and junior corner Isaiah Gardner combined for 10 tackles.
Grade: B

Special Teams
Maryland didn't really need much from kicker Dan Ennis or punter Adam Podlesh for the win. Ennis missed a 47 yard attempt but made a 22 yard field goal. Podlesh dropped 2 punts inside the 20. Hopefully he can catch on in the NFL. Kickoffs were short and continue to be a deficiency.
Grade: C+

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