Monday, November 30, 2009

Familiar ending for Terps

Maryland ended the 2009 football season in a fitting fashion on Saturday with a 19-17 loss to Boston College. Both the offense and defense did just enough to stay in the game until the end but neither group could do enough to pull the game out. The Eagles moved the ball well with 353 total yards and 20 first downs but the Maryland defense did well in the red zone limiting them to four field goals. Neither offense turned the ball over but Maryland had several critical penalties on defense that kept BC's drives alive including a dumb personal foul on Alex Wujciak on a 1st and 20 play that gave BC a first down at the Maryland 46 yard line. The offense could only convert 3/14 3rd downs and the staff decided to go for it on two 4th downs. Offensive coordinator James Franklin has had several poor 4th down calls this season and he should stop trying to channel Barry Switzer and just punt the ball. The 4th and 1 QB sneak by Jamarr Robinson sealed the game for BC as they added what turned out to be the game winning field goal as a result of the good field position. Robinson lead an inspired drive late in the 4th quarter to get Maryland within two points after an impressive scramble that resulted in a 28 yard touchdown to Torrey Smith. It was a perfect throw and showed some nice poise to keep his vision down field at a critical moment of the game. By the end of the season it was clear that the offense is much more dynamic and exposive with Robinson than with Chris Turner.

I don't begrudge Turner playing on Senior Day but it was clear he wasn't physically up to it. His velocity has never been great but he was behind receivers on a number of crossing patterns that could have been picked off. I think these numbers sum up the difference between Turner and Robinson: Robinson 7.6 yards per attempt, Turner 5.9 yards per attempt. Of Turner's 12 completions (note the official box score has him with 11 completions but the play-by-play shows he had 12) 8 (66%) were completed for 10 yards or less. Robinson had nine completions and 5 (55%) were for more than 10 yards. Maryland's offense has a much better deep strike ability with Robinson's mobility and arm strength. Franklin will have the opportunity next season with Robinson and a hopefully improved offensive line to scrap some of the dink and dunk playcalling he relied on this year. That is if Franklin is back.

The offensive line reverted back to its poor form and only mustered 68 yards rushing by non-QB's while giving up four sacks. The interior of the line, including seniors Paul Pinegar and Phil Costa, struggled to contain the BC defensive tackles, particularly Scafe and Giles who combined for 3 sacks and four TFL's. With the Terps being dominated on the interior that made any running game tough to muster. Still Da'Rel Scott looked good in the limited number of carries that Franklin gave him.

Wideout Torrey Smith was contained for most of the game until he got free and found a hole behind BC's zone for his late touchdown catch.

The defensive line was also mauled by BC's front five. Running back Montel Harris just wore down Maryland's defense with 142 yards but needed 41 carries to achieve that. Still there were too many times that Maryland's entire front was pushed off the line of scrimmage. There had no ability to anchor on the edge when BC went off-tackle or when they did some zone blocking. This is perhaps the area on the team most desperately in need of an upgrade in the offseason. Defensive end Deege Galt did record a surprising two sacks but as with all season his physical limitations were exploited by the opposition.

Alex Wujciak posted another double digit tackle performance but was exposed in pass coverage again and had a crippling personal foul penatlity that allowed BC to hold onto the ball. Speed is a major problem with the linebacking corps at the moment. The other linebackers made some plays and Hartsfield is showing he is one of the better coverage linebackers on the team but overall this group failed to make the tackles when they needed.

The secondary struggled against a rather mediocre BC passing attack. After throwing six interceptions in his prior two games BC QB Dave Shinskie looked fairly comfortable picking his spots against Maryland's defense. There were three penaties by the secondary in obvious passing downs: 3-7, 3-6 and 2-9 which gave BC first downs. Senior corner Anthony Wiseman was beaten on a number of plays including a 66 yard touchdown catch. He finished with 10 tackles for a bad reason as he got picked on repeatedly. Given the poor play of the defensive line and linebackers I guess you can't lay too much blame on this group but they hardly looked good.

Speculation immediatly turns to the fate of head coach Ralph Friedgen and at this point it isn't clear what will happen. I think at a minumum there will be a number of changes at several assistant coaching positions even if Friedgen and Franklin survive.

I hope to write up some position by poisition breakdowns in the coming weeks as the basketball season slows down before ACC play in January. Until then we'll await the decision on the head coach.

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