The University of Maryland shocked Virginia Tech, beating the Hokies 27-24 at Lane Stadium in Over-time. With the win, the Terrapins move to 6-4 overall (2-4 in the Atlantic Coast Conference) and become bowl-eligible.
(Discuss this on the BSL Board here.)
What did we see?
1) We saw the biggest win of the Randy Edsall era at College Park. The demolition job of West Virginia earlier this year was important; because it was the beating of a regional rival/power, that had had a lot of recent success vs. the Terps. Today’s win over another regional power was more important because of what had occurred for the Terrapins since that game (and because this game was on the road vs. a ‘neutral’ field). Between getting demoralized at Florida State, suffering through numerous important injuries, and losing winnable games vs. Wake Forest & Syracuse; there was not a lot to feel good about for Terps fans going into today.
I didn’t expect Maryland to be in the game today. Even if the Terps had entered today fully healthy, I would have expected a loss in Blacksburg. As the game-thread was starting, I said I anticipated a 40 point loss. I knew about the Hokies offensive issues, but with MD’s numerous injuries (WR Levern Jacobs, LT Moise Larose, and LB Abner Logan being the latest), I expected Virginia Tech to dominate both lines of scrimmage; making Maryland one-dimensional on offense, and wearing down the Terps defense.
I’m very happy to have been completely wrong!
2) Expecting MD to be beat-down today, I was not looking forward to the post-game discussion. I was expecting comments that said, “Look at the score… not even competitive.” Which would force some people into an uncomfortable situation of having to continue to defend Coach Edsall with obvious commentary of, “Look who was on the field, and who was on the sidelines.” I hate those circular arguments, finding them very frustrating no matter which side you land on that debate.
Especially when that discussion misses two main points. There is no money to make a move at Head Coach, unless Under Armour’s Kevin Plank (who you can imagine is already on the hook for a large part of the indoor facility), is going to write the check necessary to buy out the $6M owed to Edsall (along with his Assistants), and then give the money necessary to hire someone else, and their Assistants. With a secondary point that there is a pretty good 2 deep returning next year, and a chance to win some games (7-8) regardless of what league they are in.
However, with this win today, we do not have to have that debate today. Maryland has gained bowl eligibility. With a depleted MD roster, Coach Edsall and his Terps were still ready to play today. Still found a way to beat a traditional regional power in their stadium. If MD can win this game vs. the Hokies, they should have chances to win both of their remaining games vs. Boston College, and at NCST.
We can get past discussions of Edsall’s immediate future, and get back to discussion of the play between the lines, and the lifeblood of any program – recruiting.
2a) Even if MD was to win out and go to a ‘decent’ bowl, that only matters so much. What can not be discounted though is the additional practice time which comes with being bowl eligible. Very important to the development of any team, especially a team with a lot of young to-be returning players like Maryland.
3) Great effort from the defense today. VaTech might not be a strong offense, but MD still went on the road and competed possession-after-possession without much help from their offense.
4) CJ Brown made a difference with his legs today. He had the huge gain down the sidelines early, followed by a number of runs which extended plays and drives. The Hokies Defensive line was continually pushing back the Terrapins Offensive line. Brown was able to consistently run past that pass rush for important gains. He also had some plays with his arm, including a nice strike to Etta-Tawo on Maryland’s drive of the 1st half, and a beautiful throw to Etta-Tawo in the corner of the end zone to start the 2nd half.
5) Will Likely has had a very nice year. Several drops as a returner, but he’s regularly made plays as well. In coverage, he’s been picked on a few times due to his height, but he has been very good on the blitz, and in slot coverage. He tied the game at 7, with his 63 yad PR for a score.
6) After MD went up 21-7, they immediately allowed a huge KR from Demriti Knowles, setting up an easy Hokies score. Very disappointing.
7) Maryland’s 4th and 5th sacks came in the 4th Quarter, with Andre Monroe and Quinton Jefferson combining to get to Thomas again (they each had a previous sack in the game), followed by Yannick Ngakoue’s first. With VaTech needing 24 yards, Knowles came up with a 38 yard gain in the 4th on 3rd down. Huge missed opportunity for MD. The Hokies would make MD pay, finishing that drive with a TD to tie the game at 21.
8) Without Levern Jacobs (and of course Diggs, Long, etc); Etta-Tawo and Nigel King had nice games at WR. Though Etta-Tawo did have a couple of drops, including the back-shoulder throw from Brown as regulation was ending.
9) After a couple of horrible MD offensive possessions, Andre Monroe added his 3rd sack of the game with just over 4 minutes remaining. On 3rd down, Ngakoue had pressure, and the Terps defense was able to avoid Logan picking up another 1st. This gave the ball back to the Terps with 2:30 left in regulation.
10) In OT, Monroe added his 4th sack, this on 3rd down forcing a FG attempt from the Hokies. That was a great effort from the defense to stand-up after a very tough penalty earlier in the possession on Alvin Hill.
11) Down 24-21 in OT after the VaTech FG, Ross picked up 7 yards on 1st down. On 2nd and 3, Ross picked up 15 more yards – setting up 1st and Goal from the 3. On 2nd down, Brown found the end zone for the win!