The Maryland Terrapins made Randy Edsall proud Saturday night, as they took down Connecticut 32-21 on the return game to East Hartford to improve to 2-0 on the season. After losing last year 24-21 at Byrd Stadium in the first “Edsall Bowl”, the Terrapins rebounded from a scoreless first quarter to outscore the Connecticut Huskies 32-14 for the remainder of the game. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t the most sloppy victory of the season.
The Terrapins turned the ball over three times (tying their total for the season thus far), and dropped quite a few clutch balls as their offense was significantly less potent than the two previous games. Maryland scored ninety points combined against their first two opponents, but Connecticut (or rather an away game) proved to be a much more difficult terrain to conquer. Still, having Stefon Diggs and C.J. Brown certainly helps.
C.J. Brown, who prior to this game had not thrown an interception, recovered from a miscue early in the first half on a tipped ball to go for 277 yards through the air and a touchdown. Heading into this game, Brown was completing 75% of his passes, but the offense had significant issues with dropped passes and failed to capitalize on a number of third downs (they went 3-for-11) as a result. On the evening, Brown accounted for nearly 400 yards of offense, as he scampered for 114 yards and another score. He now has 11 total touchdowns on the season.
Stefon Diggs continued to prove that he is one of the most dangerous players in the nation offensively, as he put together a 5 reception, 110 yard game (including a touchdown). Diggs found himself open on numerous occasions, and never really had much of an issue finding open space; he did, however, drop a couple of balls. Diggs did provide fans with a little scare as he went down in the first half after a slight hit to the groin. He got up shortly afterwards, signaling a thumbs up to the crowd to let everyone know he was alright.
For Connecticut, their offense just didn’t seem to have enough horsepower to take down the Terrapins. The Huskies quarterback, Chandler Whitmer, threw for 349 yards yards and a touchdown, but he also had two interceptions and wasn’t able to maneuver the offense into prime scoring position often enough to succeed. Whitmer faced consistent pressure from Yannick Cudjoe-Virgil and Marcus Whitfield. Receiver Shakim Phillips finished the game with 178 yards receiving and a touchdown after a very impressive 75 yard return with about four minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Lyle McCombs and the running game were nothing short of horrendous, averaging less than two yards per carry. The Huskies failed to gain over 50 yards rushing in what was one of the best performances by a Maryland defense in years.
The Huskies were inferior to the Terps in almost every statistical category, but a late push helped them stay in the game. Maryland’s offense stalled in the last few minutes, giving Connecticut a chance to stay in the game. But Cudjoe-Virgil had two huge sacks, back-to-back to stagnate the Huskies offense.
For the first time since 2001, the Terrapins are 3-0 to start the season.
What does this win mean for the Terrapins? It shows that their offense isn’t infallible, and that they most definitely have a lot to work on. The dropped balls, the turnovers and the injuries to Dexter McDougle are a concern moving forward. Connecticut looked like a pretty terrible team, but the Terps weren’t able to take advantage of that fact.
In all, it’s the first 3-0 start in over a decade, so that’s something to be happy about. Still, it’s an eye opener for people who felt that West Virginia would be a joke, and even more so for folks who thought that Maryland would make light work of Florida State.
Relish the revenge victory on the road either way, though. You have to like that Maryland was able to go into enemy territory and come out with a W (given their road woes under the Edsall regime). The ship looks to be sailing in the right direction right now, and everyone should be happy about that.