Game balls were awarded to: Deon Long, who had four catches for 98 yards, including a 47-yard catch on third-and-22 to set up the game-winning score; Keith Bowers, who finished with nine tackle, including several key stops in the red zone; and Nate Renfro, who landed two of five punts inside the 20 and a touchback.
After missing Saturday's game, C.J. Brown (concussion) has been cleared to go and participated in practice on Sunday.
The news about linebacker Matt Robinson was not as encouraging. He is still slated to miss three to four weeks after injuring his rotator cuff against Florida State. The Terps missed Robinson ability to cover bigger tight ends on Saturday, as Jack McGee shredded Maryland's defense for eight catches for 114 yards.
Edsall did not offer any official updates on linebacker Yannick Cudjoe-Virgil, who left the game with a shoulder injury after UVa's first offensive series, or linebacker Alex Twine. Cudjoe-Virgil came out in the second half with a sling on his left arm and ice on his shoulder, and Twine required help off the field twice during the game.
Maryland's defense gave up 518 yards on Saturday, but they stepped up when it counted, in the red zone, forcing Virginia to settle for field goals rather than touchdowns on four of their six scoring drives. On Sunday, head coach Randy Edsall talked about the keys to Maryland 27-26 win over Virginia.
"Watching the film and taking a look at things from yesterday, the big critical thing that I took out of this game was that fact of what our defense did down inside the red zone," Edsall said. "They were six for six inside the red zone, but with four field goals and two touchdowns. We were five of six for three touchdowns and two fields goals. I think them getting the ball on the plus-17 and the plus-13, and only giving up two field goals in that situation was a big part of why we won in terms of the amount of points that were given up, and we didn't allow the game to get out of hand.
From Mike Locksley to Randy Edsall, Maryland's coaching staff has frequently talked about not shooting themselves in the foot. Against Virginia, the Terps "pulled the trigger" so to speak. Maryland turned the ball over on two special teams plays: a muffed punt by Will Likley and a short punt that hit blocker Joe Riddle in the back and recovered by the Cavaliers. The third turnover, a fumble by Caleb Rowe, was another self-inflicted wound caused by Rowe's failure to correctly secure the ball with two hands.
"You don't win many games when you turn the ball over three times, and two of those three lead to six points. Then the fumble we had took points away from us because we had a chance to get points on [the board], Edsall said. But again I thought our kids battled and did everything they could to find a way to win."
"None of them really should've ever really occurred, Will [Likely] shouldn't have dropped his punt. He has to know the situation and fair catch it, and got the ball back. That's my whole thing, we get the ball back and we got people who can make plays. Caleb [Rowe] has to understand the situation, throw the ball away, and you're in field goal range. Then the other one, Will [Likely] has to get up and try and to catch that ball. I think we are letting too many balls hit the ground. Guys got to get up there. I mean some of those are short punts but, you have to fair catch it and if they hit you when your go for it then it's interference, but I think all those things are correctable and I wouldn't expect those things to happen again."
Turnovers have been a problem for Maryland's freshman kick and punt return man William Likely. He fumbled in his first appearance on special teams against Florida International, and he has not been able to shake the issue. He muffed the Cavaliers' first punt of game, which was recovered by Virginia on Maryland's 13-yard line. After the play, Edsall pulled the freshman aside as he came off the field.
"All I did was coach him up on the situation. He had his heels on the 10 yard line, which is what he should've done," Edsall said. "I told him that he had his heels on the 10, but the thing was you have to understand the guy was punting into the wind, it had pretty good hang time, the ball was hanging up and for me that should have been a fair catch situation. [If he can] just focus in on catching the ball, we get the possession back. I think what he wanted to do was try to catch the ball and make someone miss but the guys right there were on him and in that situation in those conditions that should have been a fair catch and that's what I told him."
On the season, The Terps are converting just 34 percent on third down and their struggles continued on Saturday. Maryland converted just four-of-12 third downs, while allowing Virginia pick up eight-of-20.
"We have to do a better job of stopping them on third down and we have to do a better job of converting third down situations. If we do that we will be okay," Edsall said. "We also have to be able to not let offenses nickel and dime us the way Virginia did.
"We have guys who can make plays we had 11 big plays for 381 yards, and five rushes for 139 yards, and six passes for 142 yards, so I think that was good for us form an offensive standpoint."
After starting the season off with a flurry of turnovers, the defense failed to force a single turnover on Saturday against a Virginia team that had already coughed up 14 this season. However, that may have been largely due to the absence of Cudjoe-Virgil, who is among the Terps top pass rushers.
"I mean we practice it every day, just like we were [practicing] in the first four games. We just haven't gotten any in the last two," Edsall said. "When the ball is coming out of the hands of the quarterback quicker and when you get pressure you make them throw it before they want to and when that happens sometimes you can strip some balls, but we are just going to continue to do the things were doing and hopefully we get some.
"The more concerning part to me is us turning the ball over. Sometimes people take care of the ball, but you have to get pressure [on the other quarterback] to get some errant throws, but I thought the quarterback from Virginia played a much better in the game yesterday than we had seen of him on film in terms of the throws that he made. He made some excellent throws to some guys who were really covered pretty well. "
During the week both offensive coordinator Mike Locksley and head coach Randy Edsall harped on the wide receivers improving their downfield blocking, and the message got through on Saturday. Deon Long and Stefon Diggs both had key blocks during Brandon Ross's 77-yard run after the catch.
"Deon Long did a really good job, I think Stef [Diggs] had a block on that as well, but Deon was the guy who really escorted him down the field," Edsall said. "That's kind of been a point of emphasis for us, those guys have to be complete players, not just guys who think their just going to catch the ball. They have to be guys who can block and I thought they blocked a little bit better yesterday, but they are still no where near where we need them to be."
With Yannick Cudjoe-Virgil out and Alex Twine getting nicked up, freshman Cavon Walker and Yannick Ngakoue were called in for duty.
Cavon [Walker] and Yannick [Ngakoue] they are young getting experience learning on the go. They gotta understand how important fundamentals and technique are to playing the position. They are working hard to get better and making improvements, but they are still freshman. They will be good players here as long as they keep working and keep understanding that it is all about technique and fundamentals.
After the game Edsall admitted he was a little bit nervous about how the team would respond from their 63-0 loss at FSU, but there are no lingering questions after the win Saturday.
"I think it was more of a one game situation, you know, you come off of what we came off of, and you just don't know until you play the game," Edsall said. "I think yesterday those guys played hard for 60 minutes and that's what you gotta do. It wasn't always pretty, but as I always tell them, if you go out there and play every play like it's the last play you're ever going to play and you play hard for 60 minutes you're going to give yourself a chance to win and that's what we did yesterday."
"We made a lot of good plays and we made a lot of mistakes, but we gave ourselves an opportunity to win," Edsall said. "The thing that was disappointing to me, from an offensive standpoint, we should have ended that game on the field without having to punt the ball. We made two good runs and then on third-and-1, we don't block it the right way, the way the way we blocked it all week long and you don't get the first down."
"I mean I'm disappointed we didn't finish the game by just driving the ball right there, and not giving the ball back and having it come down to a field goal there at the end," Edsall said. "Those are all teachable things and things that we've gone over with the guys today, and we will continue to work on and you know continue to get better, but for being such a young team.
"I think yesterday was great experience for us to come out on the winning side of it, and after six games we are 5-1. I think that's very good for this football team."
Edsall's Sunday Recap
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