Maryland Terrapins V. Syracuse Orange Halftime Thoughts


We’re at halftime of the Maryland Terrapins-Syracuse game taking place in New York, and what a half of football we’ve gotten to watch. The Terps are up _____, and they’ve done in with their trademark slogan, “By any means.” C.J. Brown through the air, Will Likely doing just about everything on the field, or the special teams giving out great field position, Maryland has gotten it all today. But Syracuse is still fighting despite a few mental lapses that have taken some touchdowns away from them. Anyway, let’s get into some halftime thoughts.

1.) Will Likely is, plain and simple, superb.

There’s no other adjective to accurately describe what Will Likely does on the field outside of “playmaker.” Likely has been all over the field today: he’s returned an interception for six points in the second quarter, had a couple tackles for loss, blocked a punt, and came up with big red zone pass breakups on numerous occasions. Right now we’re watching Likely’s best game of his career, but we’re also watching a star in the making.

I’ve personally not seen a Maryland defender, pound-for-pound, with the starpower Likely has on the field. He may not be the largest guy, but he’s got so much heart that it rubs off on the entire defense. Example: Likely took a stiff arm to the face in the first quarter and angrily pushes the Syracuse runner out of bounds, which prompts a late hit penalty. The very next play, Likely basically uses his body as a human torpedo in the backfield to give Syracuse a six-yard loss. He’s just that kind of player, and Maryland is fortunate to have him.

2.) C.J. Brown is definitely addressing some criticism

Brown is way too much of a veteran to be bothered by criticism, but it seems pretty clear he heard the calls for his head from the fans leading up to this game. The notion that he wasn’t a capable enough passer to lead this offense was shrugged off by the first drive of the game, when Brown connected with Marcus Leak on a beautiful 25-yard deep ball. It was a great pass with a lot of pop, and quieted the critics very quickly.

Brown also had another screen pass touchdown to Brandon Ross for 90 yards, so his 211 yards are deceiving, but he hasn’t been nearly as bad as last week. Brown certainly has some work to do on connecting with his receivers at times; he missed Stefon Diggs on another pass that could easily have gone for six were it accurate. Brown also had another pass in the dirt to Deon Long (who has been quiet today). Overthrowing Diggs is really tough to do, but as long as Maryland is winning this stuff will go overlooked.

3.) This defense is on pace to give up 700 yards again, and that’s not good.

Will Likely and Sean Davis might be good, and the red zone defense is bend but don’t break, but the rest of the D is a mess. Maryland’s linebacking group has been ravaged by injuries, and it shows pretty clearly if you look at how many yards they’ve given up on the ground 180. That number would have been even worse had Syracuse not committed a few penalties that bailed Maryland out.

I totally get it, the defense has a lot of new guys on it and there will be an adjustment period. That doesn’t mean it’s not hard to watch them get gashed by Hunt and Tyson Gulley today. Maryland’s got to get creative this game if they want to hold off Syracuse, who has done a great job of mixing in a few passing plays with their solid running. Maryland should be able to outscore this team if their red zone defense stays solid, but the intermediary passing plays they’ve given up for the Cuse offense to get there are worrisome.