Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports
The Maryland Terrapins came into their homecoming match up against the #9 Clemson Tigers as 17-point underdogs, with most in Byrd Stadium expecting a blowout. What they got instead was a dogfight, as the Clemson Tigers beat the Terps 40-27 in a game that wasn’t decided until the fourth quarter. Even as the fourth quarter opened the flood gates as Clemson racked up 21 points.
The Terrapins, who were without their starting quarterback (CJ Brown), starting running back (Brandon Ross), top two receivers and tight end (Stefon Diggs, Deon Long, and Dave Stinebaugh), managed to put a legitimate scare into the Clemson Tigers, who were coming off a blowout loss to Florida State at home. The Tigers offense had difficulty scoring in the red zone despite amassing quite a large amount of yardage, and turned the ball over twice deep in their territory to keep things interesting.
Roderick McDowell rushed for over 100 yards, Sammy Watkins caught nearly 200 yards, and Tajh Boyd threw for nearly 300 yards, so theoretically speaking the Tigers had all their main cylinders clicking. Still, heading into the fourth quarter the Tigers only managed to score 19 points. The Terrapins defense held the Tigers to four field goals on six red zone attempts, and forced two fumbles as well. Their play was more than likely the biggest factor in Maryland remaining in the game. But most folks knew that one wouldn’t hold.
An Albert Reid fumble on Maryland’s 22-yard line set Tajh Boyd up for a five yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to put Clemson up 26-13, and that’s when things started getting uglier. A McDowell
While the Terrapins defense was bending but not breaking, the offense simply couldn’t get anything right. Caleb Rowe had numerous overthrows, but perhaps more damning, dropped balls. Rowe finished the day 20/46 with three touchdowns and two interceptions (one of which was a halftime heave), and Maryland was definitely in need of some extra help with Diggs and Long out. That came in the form of Levern Jacobs.
Jacobs filled in more than admirably for the aforementioned receivers with eight catches and 158 yards. His play helped keep the offense moving for the first three quarters, as he accounted for nearly all the offense. While Jacobs emergence as a threat gives the Maryland Terrapins hope moving forward, the dropoff after him has to be concerning.
Nigel King failed to make an impact until late in the game (5 catches, 662 yards, 1 TD, and Etta Tawo’s touchdown catch came with the game already out of reach in the fourth quarter. For the vast majority of the game, the Terps were unable to coax performance out of anyone save for a scant rush by Albert Reid.
Clemson finished the game with 541 yards overall (some of that thanks to a McDowell rush late in the game) to Maryland’s369. This marks the Terps third consecutive loss as they move to 0-3 overall in the ACC.
Next up, the Terrapins get another orange opponent at home, this time Edsall’s alma mater in Syracuse two weeks from now. In the meantime, the Terps get the one thing they need more than anything else: time to heal.
What did I personally think about the game? The team played valiantly, but it was clear they needed a few more weapons on offense that they just didn’t have. Give them Stefon Diggs? They have a chance to win this game. Given them Diggs and a healthy C.J. Brown? I’d say they do. But they didn’t have either of those guys, and they didn’t win the game. That’s just the way it goes sometimes, and injuries can’t be used as an excuse no matter how severe they are.
That doesn’t mean Maryland fans should lose all hope. This was the #9 team in the country, and the Terrapins held strong until the fourth quarter. How can you complain about that, given all that’s happened to this team? Have a little perspective about this one. With the way these Terps played against Clemson, there’s nearly no doubt in my mind they can make a bowl game. They played against a first round quarterback, a first round wide receiver, and a whole bunch of studs today. That won’t happen every week.
Quite frankly, that’s good enough for me. Reid ran relatively well for his first game as a astarter this year, and Rowe was good-not-great when you factor in all the drops this guy had. He still has a problem with overthrowing receivers, but when you watch the tape back again he has very, very little time to throw the ball.