Grading the Freshmen

TSR looks at the Terps midway through the season and hands out freshman grades.

In the early goings of the 2010 season, the Terps, sitting at 4-1, have been buoyed by the success of first-year players. Nearly every positional unit has gotten a boost from their freshmen, and their week-to-week improvements are evident.

As the Terps get set for a showdown with Clemson in Death Valley on Saturday, a game which marks the halfway point of the season, we take a look at how individual freshmen have fared.

QB Danny O’Brien- O’Brien has seen action in all five games and has started the last two. The redshirt freshman signal caller is yet to throw an interception in his 63 attempts, and has managed to throw six touchdowns.

For his lack of experience, O’Brien football IQ has been extremely impressive. He’s not forcing balls into coverage and when things break down, he knows when to throw it away and when to check down.

While not as mobile as Jamarr Robinson, O’Brien has showed elusiveness in the pocket, doing a good job stepping up, rolling out, and evading the rush.

O’Brien has done everything asked of him to put the Terps in position to win games, and has displayed the ability to make big plays for the team. He will be tested as Maryland moves forward into their ACC schedule, particularly in a very hostile environment at Clemson on Saturday, but the Terps should be very happy with his performance thus far, and confident moving forward.

Grade: A

RT Pete DeSouza- After starting LT Justin Gilbert went down in the third quarter of the West Virginia game, DeSouza came on to play on the right side and was immediately bullied. QB Jamarr Robinson was sacked five times with DeSouza playing, and when it was announced that Gilbert was gone for the season, there were questions as to whether DeSouza would suffice as the starter.

Since becoming the starter, DeSouza has meshed well with his counterparts in the trenches. Against Florida International and Duke, the Terps only let up one sack. DeSouza has displayed good footwork and technique in both pass and run blocking, and has done a good job pulling on pitches, screens, and misdirection plays.

He was whistled for a false start in the Duke game, but that’s the only time he’s been penalized this season.

On Saturday DeSouza will face his biggest test of the season, lining up against Clemson’s star DE Da'Quan Bowers. The junior has six sacks in the Tigers’ five games and his speed and strength could give DeSouza nightmares.

Grade: B+

RB D.J. Adams- Adams has seen time in three games. Against Morgan State he ran for 70 yards on 11 carries and found the end zone twice. He displayed his ability to break off longer runs as well as come through in short yardage situations. With the success of Da’Rel Scott and Davin Meggett ahead of him on the depth chart, Adams hasn’t been called on much, but proved capable when he has.

The redshirt freshman needs to improve on his pass blocking in order to keep defenses honest when he’s on the field, but that’s something that can be said of nearly every young back.

Grade: B

DE Bradley Johnson- Johnson has gotten on the field in all five games and played a vital role in stopping Navy’s option attack, getting in five tackles of QB Ricky Dobbs.

Grade: B

DB Dexter McDougle- On the field mostly as a nickel back, McDougle has been in on 14 tackles on the season and was the primary kick returner in the Navy game. He’s shown a good nose for the ball, intercepting a pass in the Morgan State game, which was waved off due to a rushing the passer. For a redshirt freshman, his ability to wrap up has been impressive.

Grade: B

DB Avery Graham- Graham has seen the field mostly on special teams and has done a great job putting an end to returns, in on seven special teams tackles so far. Also returned a kick in the Navy and Morgan State games.

Grade: B

G Pete White- The massive interior lineman has played in three games and has used his hands very well in his limited time. White has been looking better each week in practice and could see some more of the field as the season moves on.

Grade: B

DB Matt Robinson- The true freshman has gotten action in all five games and has been in on 14 tackles. He’s spotting in at safety and has seen consistent time on special teams. He forced a fumble in Morgan State game and recorded a team-leading seven tackles.

Grade: B

TE Dave Stinebaugh- Suffering an MCL injury will hold him out for six weeks, but Stinebaugh has looked good, seeing time in all five games after injuries to other tight ends forced him up the depth chart. Stinebaugh has displayed good hands, reeling in four catches for 42 yards, but upon his return needs to improve his blocking in short yardage situations.

Grade: B-

Coaches and players alike have been thrilled with the progress the first-year players have made, and as Maryland dives deeper into ACC play, the Terps are going to lean even more heavily on their freshmen to provide stability all over the field.

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