1.) C.J. Brown is still better than most of the quarterbacks in the Big Ten…even when he’s inaccurate.
Brown might not have been able to get the ball to his receivers on the hop yesterday, if we’re honest. His arm wasn’t dead by any means, but it was woefully inaccurate. you could see Stefon Diggs getting frustrated on occasion because the ball wasn’t getting to him in stride to allow him space in the open field. And these were the simple slants and short routes that Brown wasn’t hitting receivers between the numbers. The deep balls were basically scatter shot.
And you know what? Brown was still one of the single-most impressive players on the field because he can run roughshod over your defense with his legs. James Madison or not, when Brown is so determined that he’s trucking his own offensive linemen on his way to the end zone, you’re going to come away impressed. Anyone who’s watched Brown play over the past few years knows that he struggles with accuracy at times, but the upside and big play potential he has with his legs makes everything worth it.
Sure, he’ll have a hard time outgunning the Christian Hackenberg’s, Connor Cook’s, and Wes Lundts of the Big Ten, but anyone else? I’d give Brown just as good a shot as any to perform well against them.
2.) Maryland has a running back controversy and it’s a very good thing
Yesterday seriously looked like Maryland’s ground assault was Bo Jackson in Tecmo Bowl; in other words, dominant. Brandon Ross has always been a smart person and yesterday he looked almost surgical attacking holes. The read option was ran to complete perfection with Ross and Brown, and nearly every split-second decision they had to make turned out to be the right one. It’s a change from last year, where Ross seemed a bit impatient at times as a runner and Brown often wouldn’t pitch the ball at the right moment. Now? With the caveat that it was against James Madison, Maryland’s two best runners look downright experienced.
Then Wes Brown went in and made everyone fall in love with his game again. Brown looked even better than his freshman season in his first game back from a year-long suspension and threw his hat into the ring for more carries. Brown is a powerful, powerful back who also seems to have the patience to know when to charge ahead and when to wait for the line to create him some gaps upfield. If Maryland has a change of pace back that is as good as or better than their starting running back, it’s a very good thing.
3.) The defensive secondary is truly a bright spot
Name me the last truly great safety at the University of Maryland. Don’t worry, I’ll wait. Kenny Tate was more ‘could have’ than ‘was’ and outside of him, the position hasn’t been loaded historically. Sean Davis is already considered one of the best Maryland safeties to play, and if he continues to play sideline to sideline, he’s going to find himself revered among fans. Davis always seems to be in the right place, and if it were possible to improve on a 100+ tackle season from a year ago, he seems poised to do just that.
Of course, having Will Likely, Jeremiah Johnson (a senior who was beaten out for his starting job and had a pick yesterday), Anthony Nixon and Alvin Hill on your team, your area of coverage is the entire field. Maryland was using some pretty complicated corner blitz packages that thoroughly confounded Vad Lee.
Will Likely got to the quarterback a couple times unscathed because Lee, who has seem some complex offenses in his day, had no idea who was coming and where.
The Terps also have push up front, but that secondary is a playmaking machine that you can expect a lot out of.