It surely wasn’t how Terrapins head coach Randy Edsall envisioned the season opener going by any stretch of the imagination however I doubt he is unhappy with the result. In what can adequately be described as an ugly offensive performance for both teams on Saturday afternoon our Terrapins were able to eek out a 7-6 victory against the Tribe of William & Mary, ending what had grown to be an eight game losing streak stretching back to last season.
True freshman quarterback Perry Hills made his Terrapin debut in front of an announced crown of just over 31,000 at Byrd Stadium and while he came out of today with a W, Hills has plenty to improve upon before next weekends tilt with Temple. Hills completed 16 of his 24 attempts this afternoon en route to 145 yards through the air. The vast majority of Hills completions came off of swing passes and bubble screens as he was far less effective when he attempted to pass down the field.
All in all it was a tough go of it on offense for the Terrapins against William & Mary. Anytime the Terps seemed to get something going and had success in moving the ball down the field a turnover reared its ugly head, many times, putting the Maryland defense in a precarious position having their backs against the wall. The numbers back this up; the Terps only converted 13 first downs on the day to the tune of 236 total yards of offense. Third down efficiency was anything but efficient as Maryland only converted on three of ten third down opportunities on the day. Combine those numbers with the four total turnovers the Terrapins offense had and you can see why today’s game was such a struggle, Maryland simply couldn’t stop shooting themselves in the foot. The production on offense simply has to be better for this team to contend in the ACC as the season bores on.
Freshman Stefon Diggs, who much is expected from were the Terps to compete this season, had an adequate debut as a Terrapin finishing with 83 total yards of offense. Diggs accounted for three receptions for 30 yards, two carries for three yards and had 50 return yards off of three fielded William & Mary punts. The most impressive of which was a 23 yard scamper where Diggs showed some of the elusiveness that made him such a highly coveted recruit throughout the country last year.
While we saw none of Diggs Good Counsel teammate and fellow freshman, Wes Brown, on offense, the rushing attack was adequately handled by Justus Pickett and Albert Reid who, between the two, accounted for 74 yards on the ground and a touchdown on 23 carries. Much like the rest of the game for the Terrapins offense, their output wasn’t by any means aesthetically pleasing for those in attendance but it was enough to get the job done for Maryland. Perry Hills also added 20 yards rushing on five carries as the Terrapins gained a total of 91 yards on the ground today.
If Randy Edsall can thank anyone for today’s victory he can look no further than the Terrapins defense. It seemed like they were being put into rough positions the entire game and despite some questionable pass interference calls and a few mental lapses the Terps defense was stellar. Led by Demetrius Hartsfield and his 13 tackles the Terrapins D only allowed the Tribe offense two field goals in the first half. Both William & Mary scores came off of Terrapins turnovers where the Tribe were able to start inside of the Maryland 35 yard line.
The Terrapins defense held William & Mary to 229 total yards despite having four players making their first career starts for the Terrapins. Maryland held the Tribe to only 104 yards on the ground on 41 carries equating only 2.5 yards per carry for William & Mary on the day. FCS opponent or not that is an impressive number and was without a doubt a major contributing factor to the Terrapins escaping today’s game with a victory. Not surprisingly when the Terrapins defense needed to make a play it was the man who had been doing it all day long that stepped up for his team. Hartsfield aided by his teammates pressure on the William & Mary quarterback on fourth down late in the game recovered a fumble that sealed the victory for Maryland. Thirteen tackles and the most important fumble recovery of the day isn’t a bad start at all for Hartsfield who entered today’s game as the ACC’s active leader in tackles now with 273 over the course of his career.
Was it a pretty game by any stretch of the imagination? Absolutely not. Do the Terrapins need to get some more efficient production out of their quarterback? Without a doubt. However, having come into this game with the taste of an eight game losing streak fresh in the mouths of all Terrapins fans I think we can take solace in the fact our boys went out and got a much needed, and hard fought win today. With a rematch against Temple, who took the Terps to the tool shed last season in what ended up being an 38-7 Owls victory, on the horizon it is safe to say Maryland needed to be feeling good going into this week of practice.
At the end of the day a win is a win and luckily for the Terps style points don’t mean a thing in the win/loss column. Perry Hills and the rest of the offense will have another week to be coached up by Mike Locksley and Randy Edsall and the Terrapins defense will hopefully ride the wave of their impressive performance today into next weeks match up against Temple in the city of brotherly love.