You remember back in the day when you used to save notes from your significant other and put them in a box or something, expecting to read them later and reminisce? Except then you go through a painful breakup (like most), and those letters are just reminds of how badly things got messed up and not mementos of better days. Days go by. You know those letters are in that box you put on your bookshelf, just sitting there, waiting to be opened and read, and painfully digested. But rather than tear open old wounds for the sake of pain, you deftly throw those old notes into a campfire and move on.
That is what Maryland should do with the Wisconsin game film; there’s nothing to be had from that tape except painful, gut-wrenching memories. Talk about it for one day, throw it out, and move on. That’s what we’re going to do here. One day to digest, then we forget about the drubbing that transpired.
1.) Maryland got out-coached in yet another big game
"We didn’t play well, we didn’t coach well. Bottom line. – Randy Edsall, after Wisconsin game"
There are always a myriad of things that go wrong when a team loses, and pinning it on one specific thing is foolhardy and typically untrue. In this instance, however, it’s safe to assume that the Terrapins coaching staff just got completely outcoached in yet another big game.
The Wisconsin Badgers are not any more talented than Maryland, period. If you believe that recruiting numbers are worth any salt, both the Terps and the Badgers are bringing in similarly ranked players. The issue at hand isn’t whether or not one team was overmatched from a talent perspective.
The issue was that the Terrapins were completely and totally unprepared for their opponent. The game was sloppy, the defense looked as if it had no idea what to do against Joel Stave, and the offensive line got abused by Gary Anderson’s defensive line thanks to trickery that Wisconsin is known for doing. Solid advanced scouting would have told you that the Badgers did the same thing against LSU, Northwestern, South Florida, and Bowling Green.
We heard a very similar story when the Terps got trounced by Florida State last year, which was a complete lack of preparation by the coaching staff. That was to the eventual national champion; this was against a team with two losses that struggled with Illinois. Maryland under Coach Edsall has beaten one opponent that has finished the season with a winning record under Coach Edsall, and it’s hard to blame that on the players. At some point, you look at the coach preparing them and wonder what he’s doing wrong.
2.) What to do about the Brown’s?
If you exclude the dumpster dive drive at the end of the game where C.J. Brown went 3-of-3 for 44 yards and a touchdown, he was 10-of-26 for 85 yards and a fumble. At one point during the game, Maryland had gone over nine straight possessions without accruing a single first-down. Brown was errant all over the field, and struggled connecting on deep balls all game long even when his receivers got a step on the defenders.
Keeping Brown in against Wisconsin was tough to watch on a number of levels. For one, it seemed as if even Brown realized he ought to be pulled at halftime, when the Terps hadn’t broken the 100-yard barrier as an offense. While he remained in the game, continuing to lead an offense that went three-and-out over and over again, the entire offense seemed like they’d give up. Worse still, Brown’s confidence looked crushed.
It seems as though Maryland has to evaluate the quarterback situation every half of every game, which is no way for an offense to live. While Edsall did seem to make a definitive statement about the rest of the year by leaving Brown in over both Hills and Cockerille, it’s hard to wonder whether this team is going to beat their next opponents without a new look.
Meanwhile, the elephant in the room is that Wes Brown probably should be getting a lot more burn than he is. His five carries for 22 yards don’t stick out on the stat sheet, but the offense just looks and feels different every time the Terps give him run. Brandon Ross is a great receiving back, but he’s not an every down guy. Maryland’s got to start simplifying the offense for one Brown, and they can do that by simply running power over and over again with the best back on the roster.
3.) That sixth win might not come until the last game of the season
If history rings true again, Maryland going into Happy Valley and coming away with a win seems highly unlikely from an odds standpoint. Penn State had a very impressive showing against a stacked Ohio State team, and happen to field arguably the best defense in the country. Maryland’s going to need every single horse running at full speed if they want to beat up on Penn State’s linebacking group, and it remains to be seen if they can do that. Further, Christian Hackenberg could potentially feast on a Maryland secondary that hasn’t looked particularly sharp.
The next game against Michigan State is certain to be even tougher despite being at home, and going to the Big House and winning doesn’t happen often. The Spartans may have an even better defense than Penn State, and they are all-around torture to deal with. Meanwhile, Michigan is chock full of talent, and may well be looking at a QB change as they fight for a bowl berth. Maryland at home isn’t one they’re going to want to (nor can they if they want to go to a bowl) lose.
Rutgers might be the only reprieve. Going into the season, this was the stretch that the Terps knew would be difficult, and it’s turning out to be as true as ever.