We’re now far enough removed emotionally from the thrilling victory for the Maryland Terrapins over the other UM, Michigan to take away some things from a more objective standpoint. While it’s obviously Maryland’s seventh victory on the year (putting them in line for a solid bowl), it means a lot more than just that. So without further ado…
1.) Randy Edsall might be a turtle, but he’s definitely a road warrior
Has anyone looked into this? The old adage, “Slow and steady wins the race” applies to Edsall like few coaches before him at Maryland. Jokes aside, Edsall has yet again improved his record from one season ago, winning two games his first year, four games his second, six in his third, and now at the very least seven games (with the chance of nine) in this his fourth season at UMD.
There’s no questioning that Edsall’s regime hasn’t been filled with a ton of excitement, but what would you rather have: tremendously high upsets (like when Friedgen took down then-8th ranked Boston College in ’07) en route to a six-win season, or slow but steady progress that ultimately leads to a team with a better record and a stronger foundation? Even though some of Edsall’s best wins aren’t necessarily program-changing, his steadiness as a coach seems to reverberate throughout the team.
Some might point to down years for Michigan and Penn State as a reason why the Terps were able to beat them on the road, but that’s hater talk. The record books won’t show “Penn State was undermanned” or “Brady Hoke was a lameduck coach” at the end of the day. They’ll show that Randy Edsall is 1-0 against both Michigan and Penn State, and that’s what matters. Going on the road in those environments is never easy, but Edsall squeaked out two.
2.) C.J. Brown’s Maryland career is coming to a close on a right note
I have myself been critical of Brown’s performance in the past, and rightly so, but the sixth-year senior has earned respect from both the fan base and the Big Ten. Barring an injury in the final game of the season, Brown will have played his first full season of football as a Terps quarterback. The end result? Maryland has a very good chance of winning at least eight games.
Brown’s performance against Michigan wasn’t epic or anything (under 200 yards passing, no touchdown passes), but he played a hand in 252 or Maryland’s 317 yards of offense. In particular, Brown showed off what made him so coveted in the first place: those crazy legs. His 87 yards and one touchdown on the ground gave the Terps some life at times when they needed it most, and his two scoring drives in the fourth quarter were pivotal.
It’s been a down year for Brown, to be sure, but with him as a starter the whole season Maryland has done far better than without, and that’s commendable. He’s also as tough as they come, and has played through injury this entire season. By the end of his career with the Terps, it may even be hard to argue that Brown isn’t at least a top 5 QB for the program over the past 15 years or so.
3.) The Terps ran the ball more than they rushed, and what do you know, they won!
Last week I was critical on the team for not relying on the run as much as they ought to given how much the passing game has suffered with receiver injuries, drops, and passing inaccuracy. This year, it seems like they listened well. The Terps ran the ball 35 times against Michigan and controlled the clock the majority of the fourth quarter thanks in large part to that.
Wes Brown got 11 carries and even though he only averaged 3.5 yards per, Maryland held onto the ball for a long time late in the game and denied Michigan the chance to mount a comeback. The game winning drive happened because of C.J. Brown’s legs, Brandon Ross’s 10-yard gain, and finally, W. Brown’s one-yard touchdown run. It’s hard to say what caused the Terps to decide to run more against a very good run defense, but the fact that they did helped everything.
4.) Number four, for Will Likely
Six interceptions on the year, 14 pass deflections, two pick-sixes, 11 starts, 64 tackles. There’s no need to write a sonnet about how good and important William Likely’s play is to the success of the team. The stats do him justice there and his one interception of Devin Gardner against Michigan was huge for a struggling offense. The only statistic you don’t need to pay attention to is his size, because even at 5’6″, he may be the best corner in college football.