I knew something was not right all week as the odds-makers refused to set a betting line on the Maryland – William and Mary football game. I was thinking maybe 10-12 point favorite even though the Terps were starting six true freshman, but after attending the 7-6 victory on Saturday, I could see why. Maryland trailed the whole game and had little business winning against a very pedestrian Football Championship Subdivision opponent.
The Terps were led by starting freshmen quarterback Perry Hills,
who appeared as green as a granny smith apple and who was very uncomfortable under even moderate pressure, and could not sustain any offensive momentum and barely outgained the Tribe 236 to 229 yards. Maryland turned the ball over on their first three possessions and had four giveaways in all. Despite some terrible play by cornerback Dexter McDougle, they managed to keep William and Mary out of the end zone after repeatedly giving up short fields following turnovers. The lone standouts for the Terps were senior defenders Joe Vellano and Demetrius Hartsfield, who were in the right place at the right time and made big plays when the team needed them the most. Standout freshmen wide receiver, Stephon Diggs returned three punts and got a couple touches on offense, but the team needs to get the ball in his hands more frequently to generate any threat on offense. I did see improved effort on pressuring the quarterback and better tackling technique, which at the end of the day is about desire and willingness to compete, and was among the Terps most glaring weaknesses in last year’s 2-10 season. These guys did not quit under second year coach Randy Edsall, despite their inability to get on the scoreboard against what most thought was a vastly inferior opponent.
In summary, this was a very ugly win played before a very sparse and somewhat subdued opening day crowd of just over 31,000. Temple and Uconn are up next and when the schedule makers placed these two on the docket, they were probably thinking “automatic win.” With the new look Terps, these two now look more like Florida State and Miami. I don’t expect Maryland to defeat Temple, but after last year’s 38-7 capitulation to the Owls, they better come a lot closer. Some folks are giving the Terps a pass because this team is so young, especially at quarterback. Remember, they’re in this position because of Randy Edsall’s “my way or the highway” mismanagement and total alienation of starting quarterback Danny O’Brien. In my view, Edsall and A.D. Kevin Anderson are fully accountable for the on-field performance of this year’s team and any subsequent increase/decrease in season ticket sales.
My “what if” watch is on with Mike Leach (the coach we wanted and didn’t get) at Washington State and O’Brien at Wisconsin. Week one was a mixed bag with Leach and Co. getting trounced at BYU 30-6 but O’Brien going 19 of 23 for 219 yards and two touchdowns in a win over Northern Iowa. A little experience at quarterback would have provided a comfortable win against William and Mary. We’ll see what next week brings.