Maryland wideout Deon Long obliterated records and looked to be in a class all his own last season as he spent a season at Iowa Western Community College. But the question was: could the local product duplicate that type of success with the Terps?
Now it was only one game (and was against lowly Florida International), but Long was extremely impressive in Maryland’s season opening 43-10 win over the Golden Panthers on Saturday.
Long finished as Maryland’s leading receiver with nine catches for 110 yards and a touchdown.
Quarterback C.J. Brown leaned on the former New Mexico wideout quite a bit in the first half. One of Long’s most impressive plays came with 6:11 remaining in the opening quarter. Brown was flushed out of the pocket by a few FIU defenders, but still managed to find Long right next to the sideline at the 29-yard line. What made this play impressive was that Long knew exactly where he was and was only in a spot where he could catch the football.
On the first play of the second quarter, Long showed one of the biggest facets of his game. The former Iowa Western receiver blew by a FIU cornerback at the line of scrimmage and made a beautiful catch in the back of the end zone. Long’s ability to torch defenders at the line is nothing short of remarkable. Having two receivers like Long and Stefon Diggs is going to be quite a spectacle to watch this season.
As much as the big play threat is a part of Long’s repertoire, he can also make the short, intermediate grabs as well. In the first half, Long caught a few passes that weren’t originally for many yards. The former New Mexico receiver had four catches that were for 10 yards or less.
As impressive as Long’s numbers were on Saturday, what was even more impressive was what we learned about him after the game. Doctors said that Long broke three bones in his lower back (the L2, L3, and L4 lumbar bones) and he was supposed to miss an entire month. However, Long was back in practice this week and turned in a phenomenal nine-catch performance against the Golden Panthers.
It was all about Long and Diggs on this day as will most likely be the case most of the season. Wideouts Levern Jacobs and Nigel King only had four combined catches on the afternoon, with Jacobs having three of those for 38 yards (including a 32-yard grab on Maryland’s opening drive). Long and Diggs combined to grab 14 catches for 208 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a little over a half of football. The Terps are going to need this dynamic duo to make quite the impact this season when teams like Florida State and Clemson come calling.
It certainly looks like Long and Diggs will be up to the challenge.