This was most likely one of the ugliest Maryland football games that anyone could have ever witnessed. And that includes the Florida State game. Maryland committed four turnovers and could not get any offensive chemistry going throughout the whole game as they fell to Syracuse 20-3 on Saturday afternoon.
The defense seemed shocked early as to how well Syracuse was able to run the football. With linebackers Cole Farrand and L.A. Goree out for today, the linebacker core was thinner, but Shawn Petty and Abner Logan are adequate backups. Syracuse finished the game with 382 yards of offense, just five yards more than Maryland’s average this season. Make no mistake: it’s not that Syracuse played that well, Maryland played really bad. It was arguably their worst game this season.
Maryland’s defense made some adjustments at halftime after giving up 141 yards on the ground and 267 total yards in the first half alone. In the second half, defensive coordinator Brian Stewart’s defense allowed just 101 yards on the ground and 14 passing yards. It felt the defense was on the field for the majority of the game, despite Maryland holding the advantage in time of possession. Nonetheless, it was not the worst of days for the defense as it also forced two turnovers on a fumble and interception. It was the offense that had the issues.
If there is one thing that stood out about today, it is that Bishop McNamara offensive lineman Damian Prince just became an even bigger priority than before. Quarterback C.J. Brown was sacked three times and was hurried on seemingly every other pass attempt. The Syracuse defense was certainly aware of the offensive line concerns and took advantage of the team’s weakness. The pressure sure would have been a great time for offensive coordinator Mike Locksley to throw screens. Running back Brandon Ross had another mediocre game as he had 62 yards on 15 attempts. Albert Reid, despite accumulating 13 yards on 5 attempts, looked very explosive on each run. For a stretch in the second quarter, he was on the field as Maryland was moving the ball well. That drive, believe it or not, ended in an interception from Brown.
Throughout the game, I felt that coach Randy Edsall needed to make a quarterback change. Brown was unable to get anything going on offense and was taking some big hits. Inserting backup Caleb Rowe into the game may have given this offense a spark, but that was not the issue. On numerous plays, there was an extra runner into the backfield more than there were blockers, that either drove Brown out of the pocket or led to a sack. As the Terps have just four games left on their schedule, the offensive line needs to add some talent before the move to the B1G or else these games will get even uglier.
In front of twenty recruits, including five-stars Jalen Tabor and Damian Prince, Maryland failed to make a good impression. Nonetheless, recruits know that they are not coming in to fix problems now, but to join the stay home movement and over time, bring Maryland back to some level of prominence. This likely did hurt Edsall’s recruiting efforts, but did not destroy his chances with anyone.
This week, Maryland has to refocus and reenergize themselves for a big matchup on the road against Virginia Tech. A loss is a loss and one game does not define a season. As this certainly halted any momentum the team gained throughout the season, the Terps are still searching for that sixth win in order to become bowl eligible. An interesting note: Randy Edsall is still searching for his first win in the second half of the year as he is 0-16 in games played after October 13. Next week would be an ideal time to put an end to such a streak.