Friday, November 07, 2008

What is that French word?

Stop me if you've heard this story before: Maryland enters a prime time nationally televised game against a good opponent and gets completely out played and out coached.

Heard that one already? I bet you have. The Terps are 2-5 in the last 7 games on the four letter network and the average margin of defeat in those losses is 11 points. It doesn't really do the program much good to play these games when most of the time the rest of the country only tunes in to see you get your teeth kicked in.

The final score, 23-13, wasn't really indicative of how the Hokies dominated Maryland for most of the game. I'm not surprised at the outcome though I was hoping Maryland would put on a better showing against one of the more mediocre Frank Beamer teams in recent memory. Since Virginia Tech lobbied then Governor Mark Warner to strong arm Virginia into bringing them to a party they were not invited to Ralph Friedgen's merry bunch have been totally outmatched against the Hokies every time they have played. In the previous two losses, both awful blowouts, Virginia Tech clearly had the better squad, but in this game that wasn't true. What was consistent was that from head coach to waterboy the Virginia Tech staff ran circles around their Maryland counterparts. I'm not entirely sure what Chris Cosh has to do to get fired. The low point of his tenure at Maryland might have been in the 2nd quarter with Maryland trailing 14-3 Virginia Tech committed a delay of game penalty after calling a timeout. Facing a third and long by Virginia Tech Maryland had to call a timeout because the play call was unclear to the players on the field. There was a timeout by the Hokies and a penalty yet Cosh didn't have his defense ready. Tensions simmered over and cameras caught Ralph Friedgen yelling at his defensive coordinator.

The defense didn't help Cosh with some wretched tackling that made running back Darren Evans, who only mustered 27 yards on 17 carries against Boston College, look like Adrain Peterson. Evans is a good back, but not great, and he often wasn't touched until he was five yards down field. Still, Cosh's reactive schemes have little chance of making use of the talent he has on the roster. Clearly this group would be better with Erin Henderson or Dre Moore at their positions, or even a healthy Kevin Barnes, but when you continue to rush four and drop everyone else into coverage on obvious passing downs you deserve to get steamrolled. The defense couldn't force the mistake prone Sean Glennon into a single turnover partly because it couldn't stop the run and partly because they took no chances going after Glennon. Virginia Tech wasn't doing anything fancy in the running game but the defensive line continued to get blown off the point of attack while the linebackers got locked up by their blockers like they had velcro on. The corner position went from a position of depth to a weakness with the season ending injury to Kevin Barnes. Nolan Carroll tries hard but if the schemes keep him eight yards off the line then he has no chance to stop quick outs. Terrell Skinner is a demon and has no fear throwing his body around but he hasn't been the same since his injury earlier in the season. In short the Virginia Tech offense was pitiful and undermanned going into this game but was able to move the ball at will against Cosh's group.

The offensive line was one of the more glaring culprits in this loss. There isn't much experimenting with lineups at this point in the season. Replacement Bruce Campbell gave up the sack which caused Chris Turner to fumble the ball in the early part of the 3rd quarter. The group effort was awful in both pass and run blocking. They mustered a paltry 13 yards rushing not including the sack yardage and failed to open any holes for Da'Rel Scott or Davin Meggett. Turner was constantly harassed and hit by Bud Fosters aggressive defense, but he still played a fairly good game. This offensive line may be experienced but it frankly isn't any good.

It is a simple formula but when you can't run the ball and can't stop the run you haven't got a chance. Without a coaching change the defense will continue to hold Maryland back from contending in the ACC. This loss turns the game against Florida State into a likely winner take all contest. If Maryland could not stop Virginia Tech's mediocre rushing attack (3.6 yards per rush on the year) then they have little chance to stop FSU's 197 yards per game Juggernaut.

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