Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
It wasn’t so much how much the Maryland Terrapins won by as much as it was the way in which they won. You’ll hear the term multifaceted thrown around in the coming days to describe this offense, and for the most part, they’ll be largely correct. With the Monarchs defense shutting down Deon Long for most of the game, Maryland just ripped them open with the BMOC, Stefon Diggs.
Oh, and that running game with Brandon Ross looked mighty fine as well. Any concerns about whether or not he was going to be an acceptable RB1 were premature, as he ran with purpose to the tune of 150 yards in limited play. Those kind of performances, the ones that take pressure off CJ Brown, are the ones that make opposing teams furious. So let’s see what we learned..
1.) CJ Brown won’t always have to be Superman, but it’s a real treat when he is.
Brown’s stat line (14-of-22, 275 yards passing, 2 TDs and 2 rushing TDs) wasn’t nearly as eye-popping as his performance from a week ago, but it was still pretty menacing. Through two weeks, Brown’s nine overall touchdowns (six through the air, three on the turf) ties him for most by an offensive player in the nation through two weeks, with none other than Teddy Bridgewater. So saying that he’s still playing out of his mind isn’t far off at all.
And yet, he wasn’t the focal point of the offense. It was Stefon Diggs and his absurd yards after catch, and Brandon Ross and his impressive yards after contact, that sealed the game up for Maryland. All Brown had to do was give them the ball and kick his feet up. He still made some truly impressive scrambles, and he did a very good job running the zone read, but mostly he showed that he can just as easily put the ego away and be a game manager.
That’s something coaches love.
2.) Stefon Diggs will one day teach a clinic on yards after catch.
DeSean Jackson, Percy Harvin, and Miles Austin all have one thing in common: they dominate in yards after catch. Their abilities to extend plays beyond their set routes is what makes each one of them such a coveted piece as a receiver. Quite frankly, Stefon Diggs should be in that list right now, as I’m not sure there are many players better at making something out of a bubble screen than he. Exhibit A:
When you break that play down, from Brown’s suicide pass that should’ve resulted in a hard hit to Diggs use of the high step not as a weapon of gluttony but as a utility, it’s really amazing how good he is at avoiding people. Diggs has an arsenal of moves to create more space than he should have, and it’s all stuff you can’t teach. It just comes naturally to him, and I actually can’t remember having ever seen a player that creative on the football field in the last five years.
3.) The secondary is not a concern at all, but the pass rush might be.
The defense may have some other things to work on (wrapping guys up, for one), but you have to hand it to the secondary. Heading into this season, they were viewed as the the strongest aspect of the defense and thus far have lived completely up to the billing. Maryland had four interceptions all of last season, and it was viewed as a major reason why their defense wasn’t the lethal unit that it should be.
Now? Through two games they’ve already tied that number, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to stop anytime soon. The two quarterbacks they went up against were actually notorious for both their accuracy and lack of turnover issues. The Terps completely changed that perception two weeks in a row. That’s probably because of Will Likely, who as an undersized true freshman is currently leading the team in tackles.
Likely is an unchained animal out there, roaming every which way on the field to wrap guys up. If you haven’t seen him in person, it’s worth the price of admission because he truly is a sight to behold. Sure he’s only 5’7, but he understands how to properly make a tackle, and he is fast enough to race across the field and prevent big plays from ever happening.
One thing you do notice, however, is that the pass rush isn’t quite where it should be yet. Even though Maryland is on pace for a staggering 55 sacks if they keep this pace up (they won’t), I’m still a little wary of how the front line will perform against good competition. No one player stood out to me as particularly impressive, and Heinicke had a lot of time to dance around and make plays. Maryland needs to figure out some effective schemes to penetrate opposing offensive lines next week to allay some concerns that might spring up soon.