Terps Lose Military Bowl – What We Learned
Image Credit: ESPN
The Maryland Terrapins fell to 7-6 (3-5 ACC) with a 31-20 loss to the Marshall Thundering Herd (10-4, 7-4 C-USA) in the Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman. It was certainly a disappointing loss for the Terps, who were unable to contain Marshall QB Rakeem Cato and the Thundering Herd’s offense.
However, looking back, it is undoubtedly impressive that the Terps, one of the most injured teams in all of college football, won 7 games this season and were in a position to win 8. While many fans want the Terps to fire Randy Edsall, the job that he did in preparing and leading this team in 2013 was an extremely impressive display of coaching.
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- Rakeem Cato is for real – Marshall has produced some very impressive quarterbacks (Byron Leftwich, Chad Pennington), and Rakeem Cato ranks right up there with them. He went 28/44 this afternoon for 337 yards and 3 touchdowns. He picked apart a porous Maryland secondary that didn’t see Jeremiah Johnson get many snaps at all.
- Marshall won with balance – The Maryland defense didn’t know what was coming on any given snap. The Herd were able to run to set up the pass, and vice versa. While Cato passed for over 330 yards, running back Essray Taliaferro ran for 81 yards and a touchdown. That balance is what allowed the Marshall offense to have the success that they did.
- Offensive line is still a weakness – Marshall’s athletic defensive line wreaked havoc on the Maryland offensive line in this game. C.J. Brown had a lot more pressure in his face than one would like, and most of the team’s yards on the ground came around the end, not up the middle.
- Brandon Ross keeps getting better – Many people questioned Randy Edsall’s decision to go with a sole starter at running back early in the season. But Brandon Ross has shown that he made the right move. He ran for 116 yards on 20 carries in this game, and finishes this season with 660 yards on the ground. In Mike Locksley’s offense, if the quarterback doesn’t have great rushing numbers, the running back will. C.J. Brown only ran for 38 yards, but Ross cleaned up with his 116.
- A healthy Maryland team would have won – It’s hard to predict things like this, but a Terrapin team with Deon Long, Stefon Diggs, Dexter McDougle, and Jeremiah Johnson likely would have not only beaten Marshall, but would have made it into a better bowl game. This bodes well for 2014, when the Terps get 3 of those 4 players back (McDougle will have graduated) along with Wes Brown and Marcus Leak. The future is bright for Maryland football.
- 3rd down must get better – The Terps’ offense has been good this season, but has not been good enough on 3rd downs. They went 2/14 in those situations today, and are under 35% on the season. But with a healthy Stefon Diggs and Deon Long back next season, those numbers should get better.
- Play-calling was a bit suspect – Mike Locksley isn’t known for his play-calling prowess, he’s known for his recruiting. While I believe that he has done well with his play sheet this season, there were multiple questionable calls on crucial downs in this game. On a 3rd-and-8, C.J. Brown kept the ball on a fake jet sweep. On a 3rd-and-2, the team lined up in an I-formation and ran a power option. While I normally don’t question play-calling too much, these were tough not to look at questionably.
- 2014 looks bright – While the Terps lost this game, the 2014 season still remains a bright spot for the Maryland football program. They will get a large number of injured players back, along with the aforementioned W.Brown and Leak. They also have a good recruiting class coming in, with a few high-ranking recruits still deciding between Maryland and some other schools. While it’s easy to be disappointed by a loss like this, still plenty to look forward to with Terrapin football.