The Maryland Terrapins fell to 5-3 overall (1-3 in the Atlantic Coast Conference) with a 40-27 loss to #9 Clemson.
With MD playing today without Diggs and Long (not to mention Brown, Ross, Stinebaugh, McDougle, Johnson, etc. etc); I expected the Terps to get crushed today. Especially with Clemson coming off their humbling loss to Florida State last Saturday. I figured the Tigers would be motivated to turn the page on that loss; and put on a show today in College Park.
Instead, MD made a game of it for 3 Quarters, before wilting in the 4th. Was it disappointing that MD could not find a way to win? Sure. Can you really be that pleased by a ‘moral victory’ where you lose by 13 points? Of course not. There was no logical reason to expect any results better than what we saw today though.
(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)
What did we see?
1) The positive I take from today is that without numerous starters, MD competed. That gives me more optimism for games against teams with comparable talent – like Syracuse, Boston College, and NCST. Clemson was exposed vs. FSU last week, but the core of a team that beat LSU last year, and Georgia this year; was on the field today. The Tigers were playing down to the Terps, but MD still gets credit for staying in the game for 3 Quarters. That Clemson pulled away in the 4th Quarter – with their superior talent, and deeper roster – is not a surprise. Had MD had all of their missing starters available, maybe they pull the upset. As is, you can like the effort from the players who played today.
2) Two tactical decisions helped give MD a chance. First, every time the Clemson offense brought in personnel changes, the MD defense rotated in at-least one defensive change of their own. Second, the Terps offense used a huddle with the goal of taking more time off the clock.
3) Nice explosion from Levern Jacobs, on his 71 yard 1st Quarter score to put MD up 7-3.
4) Following MD’s initial TD, Clemson raced down the field – eventually gaining 1st and Goal from the Terps 2 yard line. Maryland came up with three successive strong plays to force the Tigers into their 2nd FG attempt. Converted, MD now led 7-6.
5) The 2nd Quarter began with a strong run from Reid, through several missed tackles. This set up 1st and Goal for the Terps. On 3rd down, Rowe was picked off in the Clemson end zone. A missed opportunity to extend the lead, and for MD (and their crowd) to see their collective confidence grow.
6) After Rowe was picked off in the Clemson end zone, the Tigers again went down the field – only to be stymied in the Red Zone for a 3rd time. Nice tackling from Alvin Hill on 3rd down to force the FG attempt.
7) With MD trailing 9-7, Clemson reached the MD Red Zone for a 4th time. Freshman Yannick Ngakoue came up with a huge 2nd down sack. On 3rd down, pressure got to Boyd again; and Boyd was charged with intentional grounding. The loss of yardage and the down, knocked Clemson out of FG range.
8) Will Likely has received a lot of playing time this year as a True Freshman. He shows good ball skills, and you see why he was a well regarded recruit. Ideally, you’d like to see him as a Nickleback or slot-defender I think though. On the outside, he often gets picked on by taller WR’s (he is 5’7). He had a very nice play late in the 3rd Quarter to force a 3 an out on Clemson.
8a) Tough penalty on Likely at the end of the 1st half, allowing the Clemson drive to continue. The Tigers would score a TD on that series, going to the locker-room up 16-7.
9) Returning from injury, LB Matt Robinson forced a turnover with a strip of Watkins in the 3rd. MD’s offense would do nothing with the field position, but Craddock would drill his 41 yard FG attempt to make it 16-10 Clemson.
9a) On the following Clemson series, Robinson would recover another Tigers turnover. MD would again miss a chance for additional points, with the replay showing blatant Pass Interference from Clemson which went uncalled. Craddock would again hit from 41 yards, making it 16-13 Tigers.
10) On both 2nd and 3rd and Goal, Petty made plays to prevent a Clemson TD. Clemson would extend their lead to 19-13 on a FG.
11) Reid had some strong running between the tackles today, but his 4th Quarter fumble was a death-blow for the Terps.
12) Rowe really struggled today, even more than his totals show. He missed a number of opportunities. Good arm strength, decent athlete. There is something to work with there. He played better after MD dropped the huddle.
12a) It will be interesting to see how things break out next Spring with the MD QB battle. You would expect the competition to be based around Brown, and Rowe; but you will additionally have Young (who was used on 2 read options today), Cockerille, and Hills. Maybe a transfer is to be expected?
13) Goins has played well in the Secondary this year, especially with McDougle (out for the year), and Johnson having missed so much time. His 4th Quarter pick, gave the MD offense a chance from inside Clemson territory.
14) Horrible play call from the Terps after the Goins 4th Quarter interception. That lost a bunch of yards, and had MD eventually facing 4th and 21.
15) It was nice to see MD add the two garbage time TD’s in the 4th. Rowe connecting with both Etta-Tawo, and King for scores.