Winston-Salem is home to one of the largest producers of cancer in the United States, so it should be no surprise that the Maryland Terrapins go home with a terribly bug. The injury bug, that is.
Maryland lost 34-10 to the Demon Deacons on Saturday evening, falling to 5-2 on the season and with a significantly more dim outlook moving forward. The Terps lost two of their most vocal leaders and biggest producers on the team for the season in Stefon Diggs and Deon Long. Long went down in the first quarter, then Diggs in the fourth, both of which were beating a dead horse at this point because Maryland had little going anyway.
The offense was expected to be explosive following C.J. Brown’s return from a concussion he suffered against Florida State. Instead, it ended up a disaster. Brown threw two very costly interceptions that led to 14 points for Wake Forest and took a sack deep in Maryland territory in the first half that led to another three points. The massive hole he put Maryland in ended up being insurmountable, and also resulted in his removal from the game.
Caleb Rowe took over in his stead just one drive into the second half after Brown continued his poor performance. On his first play in the game after having started last week against Virginia, Rowe connected with a wide open Amba Etta for 17 yards and a first down. The next play went for 57 yards and a touchdown as Rowe hit an open Levern Jacobs, who sped down the sideline and into the end zone.
Rowe’s second drive ended in a turnover on downs deep in the red zone after he lost basically all his targets in Brandon Ross, Deon Long, and Stefon Diggs. From there the wheels fell off, and Maryland’s potency went from high to without a pulse in about a quarter. Maryland just didn’t have the weapons to compete with a Wake Forest defense that was veteran-laden and talented enough to hold the young Terps in check.
Quick Thoughts, Impressions
1.) This team is going to have some trouble moving forward with these injuries mounting.
It’s one thing to lose Deon Long for the season, thinning the receiving corp to just the starters. It’s an emotion sucker punch to lose Deon Long and Stefon Diggs for the season in the same game. These are the harsh realities of football, and they’re realities that Maryland has to live with from here on out this season. The offense has been completely stripped of its pomp; no Marcus Leak, no Wes Brown, no Nigel King, no Deon Long, no Stefon Diggs. And potentially no more Brandon Ross, depending on how severe his upper-chest injury actually is.
Whether you want to keep a cool head or not about the prospects of Maryland moving forward, there’s no denying that these injuries have slowly stripped away one of the most potent offenses in the ACC. How will they cope moving forward? Will anyone step up in time for Clemson? That remains to be seen, but Randy Edsall is going to be asking these guys to dig deeper than they ever have.
2.) Speaking of Edsall, he’s not on the hot seat.
Sorry for those calling for his head, but Randy Edsall is not on the hot seat. You could poll any coach in college football about Edsall’s scenario and whether or not he should be fired, and every one will empathize with him and probably call you a jerk for even broaching the subject. Edsall has done a fine job coaching (save for Florida State), and I doubt Nick Saban could march into College Park and right the ship given all these injuries.
Yes, it’s happened two seasons in a row, and it’s more than a bit frustrating that his first season featured an exodus of players. But how can you blame a coach for fluke injuries like this one? The team is demoralized a bit. It’s hard to ask these young men to go out there and continually ignore the fact that they’ve been thrown a good amount of bad luck. Edsall has been asked to do a lot more than most coaches have to deal with.
Think Georgia wants to fire Mark Richt? No. How about Florida and Muschamp? No chance. These things happen, and it isn’t a reflection against the coach. Yes he’s made some errors and yes he got outcoached once this season. But the team is 5-2 and had there not been a rash of injuries on the squad, might be 6-1.
3.) Is there a QB controversy? There might just be in the most surprising of places.
With CJ Brown not 100% and Caleb Rowe without his weapons, Maryland is going to be taking a good hard look at their quarterback options going forward. On the one hand, C.J. Brown isn’t quite healthy; that was apparent to anyone watching the game. Holding onto the ball for too long, making poor decisions with his throws. If he can’t go, the offense could look to Caleb Rowe again next week.
The problem is, Caleb Rowe’s style of play is built to take advantage of great receivers like Stefon Diggs and Deon Long. Well he doesn’t have those options right now. Throwing him in could well be a repeat of what happened in the fourth quarter of Wake Forest. Errant passes and a struggle to find anyone open. Plus, the offensive line is pretty bad up front and Caleb Rowe isn’t mobile enough to negate that, as we’d see over time. That basically leaves us with Ricardo Young.
Edsall might want to take a look at Young, who can create his own offense out of nothing and doesn’t really need an offensive line to throw the ball. Or he might not want to, and may just go with Brown. Either way, there dust at the QB position isn’t completely settled. If I had to guess, the team goes with Brown next week. He’s got experience and he’ll presumably be healthy. If not, they’re looking at another slow start and a guessing game at QB.