Monday, September 28, 2009

Offense stumbles as defense crumbles

While listening to a national radio sports on Saturday morning I heard a host refer to the Maryland versus Rutgers game as one "we should pay you to watch." The sad part was that though it was a sarcastic throwaway comment it was fairly accurate. It now appears that the little respect given to Maryland before the season by sports writers was well deserved. The sober truth is that this team isn't very good. The inexperience of the offensive and defensive lines is one thing but when veterans like QB Chris Turner and RB Da'Rel Scott are the players who give the game away then you have far more serious problems than youth.

Turner clearly had the worst game of his career to this point. He gave 14 points to Rutgers himself with an interception for a touchdown and a fumble in the end zone that was recovered by the Scarlet Knights. Not only did he make very poor decisions, which had been his strength given his lack of athleticism and weak arm, but he also seemed flustered. Rutgers did a good job of getting pressure on Turner but he wasn't running for his life the whole game either. Rutger's QB Dominic Natale was sacked three times on only 13 pass attempts and often faced blitzers coming from different positions. Late in the game Turner wasn't seeing open receivers and was rushing his progressions. It was as if the senior had completely lost his poise. It will be hard for Maryland to win another game unless Turner improves his play significantly.

Time may be running out for Da'Rel Scott. As impressive as Scott's skills are and his ability to be a home run hitter at running back Maryland cannot afford to have him keep fumbling at this rate. He clearly has a case of fumblitice and he wouldn't be the first running back to have a career derailed by that malady.

I thought the offensive line didn't play well but with Campbell back maybe now there will be some more stability. Friedgen will have to start making some decisions about who will get the most time now that the ACC season is starting. Maurice Hampton made some mistakes but also showed some promise and may finally be making a move to claim a starting roll. The lack of continuity has prevented the offensive line from improving much in the last three games.

Overall I thought the defense had a very good effort. Certainly the final score looks bad but the defense wasn't even on the field for 14 of Rutgers' 34 points and another three points came off a Scott fumble deep in Maryland territory. They collapsed late in the game when the tackling really got sloppy but that was probably more a function of the offense continuing to put them in bad spots all game. They kept the Terps in the game until late in the 4th quarter despite all the turnovers and if it wasn't for Turner's gaffe on a terrible shovel pass call near Maryland's goal line they would have gone into the fourth quarter with a 13-10 lead. Rutgers only managed 249 total yards, 118 of which were on the last two drives of the 4th quarter, and only managed 42 passing yards. When the offense has turned the ball over nine times in two games it is hard to blame the defense. Sloppy tackling was a problem but young players like DT Zach Kerr and DT A.J. Francis are starting to show some promise. Even LB Demetrius Hartsfield, who has had terrible problems making tackles, showed some improvement on Saturday.

Punter Travis Baltz struggled through another mediocre game before he sprained his ankle. He is likely to miss at least a few weeks. Kicker Nick Ferrera might be called to kick and punt. The kickoff coverage was improves over the last two games and there was even a touchback.

I'll write more about where the team goes from here as the week goes on. The outlook isn't all bleak but this is shaping up to be a rough season in College Park.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I still thought this was a great assessment concerning the demise of the program:

http://turtlewaxing.blogspot.com/2008/10/who-is-manning-trenches.html