This was a really a tale of two different games for Danny OBrien. OBrien looked ON in the beginning to middle portions of the game, showing superb command of the field and the pocket and eluding pressure like a veteran QB. OBrien was even passing the ball to players not named Torrey Smith! It was a great sight to see, and a huge step forward in development for the freshman quarterback.
Unfortunately, as the third and fourth quarters came around, the not-so-good Danny began to rear his head. In the span of about fifteen minutes, OBrien threw three interceptions, which obviously is not what you want to see out of a quarterback. The only plus side to this was that OBrien was slinging these passes at a time where the game was already out of hand, so maybe it was just a simple lack of caring that contributed to the bad numbers and not a lack of skill or ability.
While those three turnovers certainly hurt the team, Im willing to overlook them and give OBrien a great game in a game that will certainly be seen as a stepping stone in the quarterbacks development into a reliable starter.
Running Backs: C-
So for the past few weeks, Ive emphasized the fact that this unit has continued to receive high grades thanks to a few huge plays each week that have covered up what are otherwise lackluster performances from the group. Well, this week there were not huge plays. So what does this leave us with? Oh right, just a not-too-good performance.
The usually potent combination of Davin Meggett and DaRel Scott couldnt get anything going on Saturday, as they only managed 47 yards between them, with the longest run only going for 11. However, its really tough to fault the two when they only received 12 carries. The sporadic use of the two backs obviously made it tough for either of the two to get in any sort of rhythm, and as such, they ended up doing virtually nothing on the ground.
I am happy to report that Torrey Smith was not the only receiver who did anything of importance in this game! While Smith had a decent game with 4 catches for 55 yards, it was merely pedestrian by his own very high standards. This opened the door for lesser players such as Adrian Cannon and Matt Furstenburg to step up, and boy, did they ever.
Cannon finally put together a Number Two Reciever-quality game with his 7 catches for 67 yards, and Cannon had a RIDICULOUS one-handed grab that was absolutely huge for the offense. Furstenburg also came through with 5 catches for 98 yards, including a 53-yarder that should have led to a touchdown in the third quarter but ultimately didnt.
And do not think that one could possibly forget Will Yeatman and his breakout game. Yeatman was absolutely HUGE in Marylands only scoring drive, and showed a combination of power and speed that we just havent seen out of the tight end position at all this year.
Overall, it was a terrific game for the receivers, and the tight ends in particular, and it gives me real hope for this unit going forward in the year.
Offensive Line: D+
What an absolutely awful performance out of this line. While its tough to criticize the line that much for the amount of pressure that they allowed Danny OBrien to consistently face (which was A LOT) considering they were up against one of the top defensive lines in the country, penalties are penalties no matter who youre facing, and there were penalties a plenty in this game. The O-Line needs to figure this out, because while the offense as a whole was below average on Saturday, this unit was still bringing them down with plays that killed drive after drive.
Also, Pete DeSouza simply should not be starting. He is easily the worst player on very bad line. That is not how someone should want to be described. He absolutely killed this team with one costly penalty after another. This problem needs to be fixed, and quickly.
Defensive Line: B
Its tough to give even a somewhat good grade to any part of a unit that gave up 31 points, but the D-Line was not the reason why those points were scored. Besides an obvious lack of pass-rush, the line really wasnt all that bad! Joe Vellano continued to get into the backfield, and he is surprisingly having a very, very good year. A.J. Francis also had a great game and did manage a HUGE tackle-for-loss on Andre Ellington. Speaking of Ellington, he is no doubt a dynamic player, and for this line to hold him to only 41 yards rushing was HUGE. Overall, it was a decent week from the men up front.
This section is normally reserved as a place for me to gush about the play of Adrian Moten, but I unfortunately cant do that this week, as Moten simply did not play well The senior linebacker has been the Terps main pass-rush and playmaking threat throughout the year, yet he showed none of that against Clemson, and to top it all off he dropped an easy interception that would have almost definitely led to a touchdown. Its tough to criticize Moten, as hes been the defenses most dominant player throughout the season, but in a big game such as this one, its deserved.
The other linebackers were somewhere in between serviceable and solid, as Alex Wujciak delivered his usual nine tackles and Demetrius Hartsfield also did a great job of stopping Andre Ellington whenever the running back attempted to get to the second level of the defense. It was simply a ho-hum day for the linebackers, but the team needed more against a top team like Clemson.
Defensive Backs: A-
Whenever a unit is able to hold an opposing quarterback to 106 yards on only six completions, youve got to be happy with how they played. The unit really only gave up one big play, a 40-yard completion to Cullen Harper that could just as easily been the fault of the linebackers, but besides that played absolutely shutdown defense. Safeties Kenny Tate and Antwin Perez particularly came up huge, with Perez having some MONSTER hits on receivers that left them gasping for air.
Special Teams: D-
Where, or where, was the normally incredible special teams play that we have been so lucky to see this year? Where were the field goals that went straight through the uprights by Travis Baltz? Where were the electrifying returns by Tony Logan and Torrey Smith?
I guess the unit decided to take a break for this game, because they simply did not show up for this game. The unit as a whole gave up a kick return touchdown and barely got any sort of positive yardage on their kick returns. Oh, and Travis Baltz absolutely shanked a field goal that would have tied the game in the second quarter. An absolutely embarrassing performance by this group. Its tough to say that special teams were the difference in a 31-7 game, but in this instance it would certainly be true.