Monday, November 22, 2010

Championship dreams vanish with loss to FSU

Maryland played Florida State to a standstill for most of the game on Saturday. The Terps defense had a valiant performance in keeping FSU mostly in check all evening. The Seminoles explosive offense did get two big plays which turned the tide of the game: Chris Thompson's 70 yard TD run and Bert Reed's 44 yard TD catch. Before both those plays Maryland had a slim lead which was erased afterwards.

The offense moved the ball but as been true against the better opponents this season they struggled to get into the end zone. Injuries have certainly played a part in the offensive struggles and the offensive line was decimated again by injures as G Justin Lewis and C Bennett Fulper forced another reshuffling of the group. Pete White and Max Garcia came in a did a decent job. Danny O'Brien didn't have one of his better games. His numbers were mediocre for the game 25/45 for 269 yards partly because the staff decided to keep the passing game close to the line of scrimmage due to the injuries and FSU's pass rush. O'Brien had two interceptions and a third that was nullified because of an FSU  penalty. He also fumbled the ball. Two of his three turnovers resulted in 10 points for FSU. One of his interceptions probably should have been reversed but even with a replay that showed DB Greg Reid clearly trapped the ball on the turf the officials gave FSU the ball. If that is how officials are using replay I'm not sure what the value is to having it in the first place. O'Brien's last interception was a desperation pass on 4th down but it was still a pass he should have never thrown. One thing O'Brien will need to correct is that he constantly wants to scramble to his right when he feels pressure in the pocket. There were a number of time he needed to step up in the pocket but he moved in the direction of the defensive end.

The running game was decent and Da'Rel Scott had a nice game. He and Meggett were able to gash the FSU defense a number of times. Still the running game floundered at the worst moments. James Franklin resorted to some fruitless bubble screens to wideouts to get a few yards on first down. It was a losing strategy. FSU figured out a way to get the ball into the hands of its playmakers while Maryland had little chance or willingness to take shots down the field to WR Torrey Smith.

It was a game I figured Maryland would lose and I couldn't disagree more with head coach Ralph Friedgen that this squad is better than a possible 7-5 record. If they can't beat NC State they won't have a single win over an ACC team with a winning conference record. The Terps will likely be relegated to a lower tier bowl like the Military Bowl at RFK Stadium. Coming off a 2-10 campaign I guess you can't be too disappointed with this result. It was announced that Friedgen will be coming back for the last year of his current contract next season. A move that makes sense but it doesn't really move the needle on the football program. James Franklin isn't the answer, even at his current position, to Maryland's future. Perhaps if Friedgen is successful next season Maryland will decide to give him a short two or three year extension and pay off James Franklin. The loss to FSU (as well as to Miami and Clemson) is a reminder that Maryland's football program isn't close to a breakthrough season anytime soon.

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