Analysis of Maryland's first 2 football games.
Finally, the season is here and Maryland finally gets into the swing of things after facing 2 low-level FBS teams. Today I will do my analysis of both games and what to expect this Weekend.
So we'll start with the first game. Maryland beat the Buffalo Bulls 31-10 at home. on offense, The run game led the way with Roman Hemby. He had 2 big runs that contributed to the 4 Td day for the Terp's running game. He and Antwain Littleton split the carries with Roman going 7 Carries for 114 yards and 2 Touchdowns and Littleton going 6 for 34 yards and 2 Touchdowns as well. These 2 Redshirt Freshman look like a 1-2 punch of Speed and Strength. Surprising that Colby only had 3 carries this game as he was the leading rusher from last year that was healthy (Challen Faamatau is dealing with an injury). True Freshman 4-star Ramon Brown had 4 carries and it seems like he will be last in that rotation and could be a Redshirt candidate. The passing game was a little slow due to some bad throws by Taulia Tagovailoa and a couple of drops by the WRs. Taulia still finished 24-34 for 290 yards and an Interception. The interception came on a touch pass that sailed over the head of the intended target, Corey Dyches, and fell into the hands of the Buffalo Safety. Taulia also had an easy TD opportunity to Tai Felton and he couldn't get enough arm into it as it was badly underthrown. Rakim Jarrett led the receivers with 6 catches for 110 yards. He had a couple of drops that would've put him at about 150 yards receiving. The offensive line was pretty good. In the Run game, they were nearly perfect and they gave Taulia a decent amount of time to get the ball off. But the snaps were all over the place, and Jaelyn Duncan was off to a bad start with 2 False Start penalties along with Delmar Glaze. There were a lot of rotations in this game. of the 65 total offensive snaps, Taulia and Glaze led the team with 60 snaps a piece, and the rest of the starting offensive line had 57(Lunsford and Branch) and 54(Spencer Anderson) and 47(Jaelyn Duncan). True Freshman Coltin Deery getting 17 snaps today due to bad snapping. This game was VERY Vanilla on offense only doing base packages with no trick.
Defensively Maryland was pretty dominant on most drives except 2. The defensive line was getting pressure on the QB, Rutgers transfer Cole Snyder, totaling 15 pressures in the game According to PFF. 4 sacks as well, 2 from Liberty Transfer, Henry Chibueze, and 1 each from Mo Nasili-Kite, and True Freshman Kellan Wyatt. Cole Snyder finished 18-35 for 160 yards. They have some solid receivers and my player of the week, Jakorian Bennett had a fantastic game totaling 5 Pass Breakups and was locked on tight about every snap. The run game was also pretty dominant, Holding Buffalo to only 2.8 yards/carry. While this number is low and they held them up a lot, they let Cole Snyder get out and scramble a lot, also having 2 other Rbs average over 4 yards a carry. But you can't get a lot out of this game, there was a TON of rotation in this one. Of the Total 78 Defensive snaps, Beau Brade led the team with 63. He is one of only 6 players with more than 40 snaps, all those being in the Secondary(Jakorian, Dante Trader, Tarheeb Still, Deonte Banks, Glendon Miller). Morgan St walk-on transfer Christian Teague had 15 snaps and even got in on a sack. There's not much to take away from the defense, I expect for the SMU game and on to see more from the defense, and while people have questions (rightfully so), I think this weekend will be the first you can REALLY judge the defense while we get a more consistent rotation.
Special Teams was good, Chad Ryland didn't miss any FGs/PATs, and the punt game was good, although there were lots of complaints about Starters, Jakorian Bennett, and Rakim Jarrett being gunners on the punt team, and in my opinion, I'm all for it. This is good to put on tape and will be more attractive to NFL teams that if they aren't instant contributors, they can provide something on ST. Last year, we lost Demus to this, but he never seemed like a natural as a returner so it was kind of questionable to even put him back there.
All in all, there wasn't much to critique in this game, We stayed healthy (Corey Dyches did come off the field at one point for what looked like a cramp), and beat the team handily. PFF grades had Antwain Littleton and Roman Hemby as the offensive leaders with a 78 grade. On defense, the Terps had 4 players with an 80+ Grade (Mo Nasili-Kite, Jakorian Bennett, Ami Finau, and Isaac Bunyon).
Maryland went to Charlotte and beat the 49ers 56-21. This game was a much better display of the potential our passing game has. Starting with Taulia Tagovailoa's record-breaking day. He broke the record for Completion Percentage going 27-31(87%) for 391 yards and 4 touchdowns while throwing another pick. He was awesome and made throws you would typically see from NFL QBs. Now I preface that by saying he was playing one of the FBS worst teams in the country (Tom Fornelli has Charlotte ranked as the 4th worst team in the country. Buffalo made the list @11). Nonetheless still an awesome game and his WRs did him a lot of favors with only 2 drops all game, 1 from Jeshaun Jones and 1 from Rakim Jarrett(who has struggled with drops to start the season). Jacob Copeland broke out with 2 long TD catches while also catching 2 more to get himself to 110 yards on the day. 13 players caught the ball in total with Jeshaun Jones leading the way with 6 receptions. In the late game, we got to see both Billy Edwards Jr and Octavian Smith Jr connect for a TD. In the Run game, the Terps dominated as expected, running for 200 Total yards on 6.9 yards a carry. Roman Hemby and Ramon Brown got the most rushes, Hemby with 9, and Brown with 8. Surprisingly the Terps only gave 1 carry to Antwain Littleton, who then took it 59 yards to the house for the highlight of the game(2-2 in that regard so far). The offensive line was a lot better this game with snaps, there were only a couple of times I recall where Lia HAD to jump and grab it, and while you don't want that to happen at all, it's a lot better result than what it was in Week 1. Although Lia does now have a hitch and you can see him Jump on almost every snap. the Offensive line was pretty solid in both Run and Pass blocking. Not many times did we get stuffed on the run game. Lia only got Pressured 6 times in the game. But this was another very vanilla game script and while you can look at the positivity in the passing game, It doesn't really mean much, these 2 games are the building depth games on your schedule while staying healthy.
Defensively, this game raised some questions. The Terps were down Tarheeb Still in the secondary and Fanaje Gotay hasn't been very healthy. In the run game, the 49er's RBs were stuffed beside the TD run. I can't say the same about True Freshman QB Xavier Williams. A dual threat player, who the Terps weren't expecting to start as they took the film on Charlottes 1st and 2nd string QBs. It felt like the Terps had gotten a lot of pressure up the middle (14 according to PFF) but Williams was able to scramble away and that's where He killed us. He was pretty impressive for being as inexperienced as he was but Maryland was able to force some bad throws and he ended up only completing 54% of his passes. In the passing game, you could tell that the Terps were inexperienced. Jakorian had a bad day and was called on holding. Deonte Banks, who had some preseason hype, had a TD scored on him. No Still forced the Terps LBs to turn invisible and they didn't blitz much. Overall it wasn't a great game for the defense but the first team held them after a quarter to 0 points.
The Special Teams unit might be a special one for the Terps. In a weekend where college kickers were abysmal, Chad Ryland made all 8 of his PATs and sent 7 out of 9 Kickoffs deep into the endzone. Only 1 punt as well. Overall the special teams look a lot better than last year.
Maryland's offense totaled 65 plays and Delmar Glaze led with 55 Snaps. This was another game where Maryland played a ton of rotations to get players in all over. On defense, Maryland played 85 Snaps and the secondary led the team again in snaps with only 51 from Jakorian Bennett. All players got at least 10 snaps on D.
This week is where the fun really starts. The Southern Methodist University Mustangs travel into College Park for a Saturday night under the lights game. This game might not be packed but a win here could spark some national interest as the Terps travel to the Big House next week to face Michigan in the Big noon kickoff game on FOX. Anyway, let's not look too far ahead and focus on this week's mission. Beating a very talented SMU team. SMU is led by former Oklahoma transfer Tanner Mordecai. Tanner is a gunslinger who threw for 3,628 yards with 39 TD and 12 INT. This is what former OC and New HC Sonny Dykes does. And I would expect an absolute shootout on Saturday night. SR Wr Rashee Rice is starting to get national attention with his start, Rice is 6'2 and already caught 17 passes with 3 Tds this year. Kelvonte Dixon, A Texas transfer is also a talented piece for SMU. In the Run game, they have been led by TJ Mcdaniel, as Alabama transfer and Tre Siggers have been beat up and are TBD on playing this Saturday. It would be huge news to see SMU being one-dimensional, their Run game has actually been very good, and have a better-ranked offense than Maryland Currently. Defensively, The Mustangs are good but will be without an important player. star DL DeVere Levelston will not play in the first half of the game due to a targeting call last week. Junior Aho is a pressure machine and will be a tough battle for the OL. Coverage wise S Chris Adimora and CB Ar'mani Johnson have stood out for SMU. They are a sure tackling team, so the Terps need to put some wiggle on to make them miss. It's obviously too early in the season to judge either team but on paper, we both match up similarly, with Maryland beating them in total depth. For the Terps, this will be the week you start to see a more consistent rotation on defense and mostly no rotation on the OL. This is where the season starts and a Win here is big. The Terps will be without Tarheeb Still officially due to minor surgery to his finger, which he seemed to damage in "Freak Locker Room incident" and still no word on Taizse Johnson's status in terms of playing this week. The Terps do get Sophmore CB Corey Coley Jr back to practice, not sure what his game status is this week but getting him and Still back next week would be huge. The O/U on this game is 73.5 and I could easily see this as a bigger score than that. I projected a Maryland Win and nothing I've seen from either team has made me want to change that. 44-38 Terps.