Thoughts From Maryland’s 24-17 Win Over South Florida


Anyone watching that Maryland-South Florida game yesterday was thinking the exact same thing: this team needs work. Whether you were a Terrapins acolyte or a Bulls minion, it was evident from the first quarter of the 24-17 Maryland win that each team was still sporting a primer coating rather than a factory finish. But hey, that’s what week two is for! At the very least, Maryland picked up a road win in Florida.

No matter what, there will always be takeaways…

It’s obvious Wes Brown should probably be the lead back

As hard as it is to see a player lose their job, incumbent starter Brandon Ross almost cost Maryland the game with his costly two fumbles against South Florida. Ross fumbled his third handoff of the game in the first quarter on a tackle that simply shouldn’t have resulted in losing the ball. It wasn’t a hard hit, it wasn’t a strip; Ross just had a case of the butterfingers. Then he did it again midway through the second quarter, which finally allowed Wes Brown into the game for good in the second half.

Brown and his downhill running clearly made the offense look a lot more cohesive as a whole, and while the Terps may run more traditional formations with him in, they look substantially better. Brown finished with 61 yards on 13 carries (4.7 yards per carry) and seemed like he could’ve done a lot more with even more carries. His ability to hold onto the ball when no one else was capable of doing so was huge for the Terps, as they were finally able to settle down and get into some semblance of a flow.

I wouldn’t give up on Ross or Albert Reid (who also had a fumble) either, though. Neither back could hold onto the ball but they were both averaging over 4 yards per carry, and one game of messing up doesn’t negate all prior efforts. This is still a running back by committee situation, and Maryland will be better for it. I just think they might be even better giving Brown the majority of carries.

The C.J. Brown criticism will continue until he puts together a great game against a quality opponent.

While we’re harping on offensive deficiencies, C.J. Brown is going to suffer a lot of the blame for his play after the South Florida game. South Florida’s defense looked pedestrian against the Western Carolina Catamounts, but the Terrapins offense make them seem like world beaters on Saturday, and much of that falls on Brown.

Brown’s first interception (a “deep” throw to Diggs on the first drive of the game) against the Bulls was bad the minute it left his hands, and a lot of his throws simply won’t fly against really good opponents. It’s tough to throw deep balls when your quarterback has an iffy track record hitting players from that distance. On intermediate slants (the two touchdown passes Brown threw to Leak came from there), Brown has few issues, but with just about everything else he’s simply been inaccurate.

And for calling his number a lot in the rushing game, Brown still has very suspect numbers there as well. Brown’s fast, there’s no denying that, and he can still pick up a few yards in the running game at times. But if he’s not doing that, and he’s not completing passes that take advantage of these stellar receivers…look, it’s hard not to be a little critical when the offense crossed the 50 yard line on their own behalf just once (and Brown threw a pick in the red zone on that drive).

Brown’s 140th in the nation amongst quarterbacks with 312 yards passing, 140th nationally in quarterback rating, and is the leader of the offense. He’s going to end up taking the blame until things get better.

At least the team hasn’t peaked yet!

It’s week two, not the end of the season. You go ahead and show me any team that isn’t in the national championship conversation that hasn’t had a bad road game during their season. Maryland turned the ball over six times and won on the road; it’s hard to see how they’ll play much worse than this one. Every team goes through their lumps, and it’s good to get them out of the way early.

Last year Maryland built up a false sense of security before going into that Florida State game with the way they were winning. Now Maryland knows they aren’t infallible, and that might serve to help them moving forward. If you know what your team needs to work on already, improvements can come quicker.

I’d hold off on the hyperbolic critique until Maryland plays West Virginia and Syracuse (two games that are looking increasingly tougher).

With Maryland’s defense, they may not need that amazing of an offense

Maryland’s got some major work to do with the linebackers, but by and large this team’s defense has looked solid enough. They were handed the short end of the stick numerous times against South Florida and still came up strong. The run defense has looked fantastic (USF averaged under 3 yards per carry) and it’s even more difficult to hit receivers deep with the corners Maryland has. Brian Stewart has held up his end of the bargain with this defensive unit, as they seem unfazed by having to stay on the field in any scenario. Sean Davis, in particular, continues to look dominant.