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Sporting new uniforms in the rain at M&T Bank Stadium, the Maryland Terrapins proved that they’re for real this season by rolling over West Virginia by a score of 37-0. This effectively broke a 7 year string of losses by the Terps in this annual rivalry game. The game was never really close, as the Terps jumped out to an early 14-0 lead thanks to two turnovers by the Mountaineers. Maryland’s defense was on full display in this game, as they were able to constantly pressure West Virginia QB Ford Childress, forcing him to make bad throws or check the ball down for very little gain. The Terps are creeping into the national spotlight, and there’s a good chance they’ll get a primetime spot when they head down to Tallahassee to play the highly-ranked Seminoles in two weeks. Let’s take a closer look at what we learned in Baltimore this afternoon.
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- This team is for real - Before this game, many people had legitimate questions as to how good this Terps team really was. After beating a quality opponent, people will begin to realize how good this team really is.
- The pass rush is very effective - Many people thought that the loss of the Terps’ top 2 cornerbacks would force the defense to be less aggressive. But even though they played more zone, the pass rush was just as good. Marcus Whitfield and Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil have proven to be a great outside linebacker combination on 3rd down, and the pressure gained from the three down linemen has been very impressive.
- Who needs cornerbacks? - Isaac Goins and William Likely fed off of the defense’s ability to get pressure and were able to cover very well downfield. A.J. Hendy played well as the nickel back and returned his second career interception for a touchdown.
- Winning ugly isn’t that bad - This was an ugly game in a lot of ways. First of all, the rain provided a dreary atmosphere for the game. The offense was fairly stagnant for most of the game, but was aided by good field position courtesy of the defense. They also coughed up the ball a few more times than you’d like, even in a blowout win. The offense also scored nothing in the second half. But as long as you win, ugly isn’t that terrible.
- Brad Craddock has vastly improved - After a shaky season last year, the Aussie kicker has won the starting job outright with four huge games. He hit a massive 50-yard field goal this afternoon that looked like it could have been good from almost 60 yards. His consistency has been very impressive, and he will play a large role in this team’s future.
- Nathan Renfro has improved as well - The sophomore punter was also inconsistent last season, but has done much better so far this season. He let off a series of booming punts this afternoon, pinning West Virginia deep inside their own territory multiple times. His leg also allowed the Terps to get the ball back early in the game on a muffed punt due to the returner’s underestimation of Renfro’s kicking ability.
- Maryland’s defense hasn’t missed a step - There were a lot of questions before the season began about the Terps’ defense. They were losing 5 of their starting front 7 due to graduation, and were going to have to lean on their offense. That couldn’t be further from the truth. This Maryland defense is still playing at an extremely high level, a testament to defensive coordinator Brian Stewart’s scheme and coaching ability.