Here are five observations from the Maryland -Wisconsin game Oct. 25, which the Terps lost 52-7.
Terps Air Woes
Too bad C.J. Brown saved his one good pass for the last series Oct. 25 at Wisconsin.
That was a 21-yard stop-and-go route, nicely thrown with touch over the top to Stefon Diggs down the right sideline, by Brown for the Terps’ lone score in the 52-7 rout at Camp Randall Stadium.
The good news is it kept Maryland from being shut out, the same Terrapin offense that was scoring 24 or more points in every game this season, a new mark, while it also kept Diggs' consecutive games reception streak going at 26 games.
But that's where it ended.
The star-crossed, sixth-year senior quarterback Brown was harried and off-target all day, finishing just 13-of-29 for 129 yards (4.4 yards per catch) and the one score, and three of those completions, as well as 73 of Maryland's paltry 175 yards of total offense, came on that final series of the day.
Wisconsin's pressure defense never let Maryland's line set its protection, they took away Brown's best weapon, the zone-read option, and meanwhile he threw high, low, to the side, and who-knows-else-where in a contest some of his passes were 10-12 yards off target.
As has been the case since the opener, the Terps backs could produce nothing, rushing for just 46 yards (1.6 yards per carry), and the Badgers simply loaded the box and dared Brown to beat them through the air. How bad was it? Maryland had nine consecutive three-and-outs between the first and fourth quarters, as punter Nate Renfro was the busiest Terp.
A season-long theme is opponents not respecting the pass game, and Brown did nothing to change that today, while Randy Edsall never went to backup Perry Hills, who provided a bit of a spark last week in the air when Brown hurt his back. Maryland's one gunslinger, Caleb Rowe, had knee surgery on Friday, and opponents are simply teeing off in the pressure and blitz game with Brown's accuracy at a new low.
No Badgers Air Woes
Wisconsin came into the game Oct. 25 hoping to find more of an identity, and starter, at quarterback, but exited with both signal-callers seemingly finding their way thanks to the porous Maryland defense.
The Terps surrendered 527 yards total offense, including 311 on the ground, and both up-and-down Badgers quarterbacks got healthy at times feasting on Terrapins.
Starter Joel Stave was 9-for-15-155 yards and two touchdowns, and had all day to pick and choose his open receivers downfield, while backup Tanner McEvoy tossed it around a bit as well, but crushed the Terps late with a broken play scramble he took 60 yards to the house for a galling 45-0 lead early in the fourth quarter. He would rush 4 times for 84 yards, and outran or juked seemingly half the Terps defense on his touchdown sprint.
Maryland feared most the run game coming in, but it was Terps defensive backs not turning on long scoring plays (see Will Likely, J.J. Johnson), or leaving wide open receivers and ends on boots or gadget plays. Wisconsin had its two longest pass plays of the season (43 and 47 yards) today against the Terrapins secondary, which look flat-footed too many times.
The Terps defense could generate little pressure, though some bright spots was the continued strong play of sophomore outside linebacker Yannick Ngakoue and freshman edge rusher Jesse Aniebonam, who got in the backfield late, as well as senior end Andre Monroe, adding to his team-leading sack total with a 10-yard QB takedown.
Maryland feared the Badgers run game most heading in, and nation's leading rusher Melvin Gordon. But Gordon, who had averaged over 200 ypg the last four contests, finished with a very solid 122 yards on 22 carries, but it was his three scores that were the daggers as Wisconsin would not be denied in the red zone all day. It didn't matter which back was toting the rock, as Corey Clement went for 90 yards on his 17 carries, the Badgers beef up front clearing gaping holes and Maryland's tackling too high and hit-or-miss with arm tackles.
Woes Again In Run-Game
Thirty-five. Thirty-eight. Forty-two. Four.
If you thought those Terps running back single-game rushing totals this season, game leaders at that, were rough, consider the Oct. 25 marks on the ground at Wisconsin.
Terps junior starter Brandon Ross may have been still suffering from the lower-body injury he absorbed last week versus Iowa, as Oct. 25 he looked sluggish, late to plays, dropped screens and couldn't get out of his way en route to an paltry seven rushing attempts for 6 yards performance on a day he botched an option play with quarterback C.J. Brown and never went after the ball as it lay on the turf. As a team, Maryland finished with just 46 yards on 28 attempts (1.6 yards per carry).
By the time backup Wes Brown, who many would like to see tote the ball more at the start of games, got up a head of steam, it was a bit too late, though his five carries for 22 yards were the only Terps run plays that showed much burst or life.
The other Terps back with some shake, sophomore Jacquille Veii, didn't get any touches, while C.J. Brown could go nowhere in the option game against Wisconsin's 30 defense, which bottled everything up.
Maryland never got a ground game going, which could have helped chew up clock and keep Wisconsin's potent offense off the field, and converted just 3-of-15 first downs and 10 for the day. Ross didn't get much help up front, nor Brown for that matter, as far as the offensive line clearing any daylight, but he looked out of step all game-long, not where you want your running back starter eight games in.
Terps Receivers Knocked Around
Maryland's receiving corps has, for the most part, been knocked around a bit this season, be it on the field or off.
Heading into the Oct. 25 game, starter Marcus Leak was dropped from the starting lineup for a "coach's decision," while senior starter Deon Long was hoping to get out of a doghouse he helped put himself in last week against Iowa with some half-efforts.
And the likes of Long and Stefon Diggs, and later in the game true freshman Juwann Winfree, came out ready to play and energized today, only problem is they didn't have a quarterback who could get them the ball. Meanwhile, while freshman tight end Derrick Hayward, thrown in the fire when starter Andrew Isaacs went down at Syracuse last month, caught his first career pass today for an impressive 27-yard gain, he still has worlds to go as a blocker, not to mention a few procedure calls incurred on a day the Terps offense stalled with six flags, mostly on the line.
That didn't stop Diggs from posting 163 all-purpose yards to move into fourth place all-time at UM, with 3,840, edging past running back great Louis Carter. He tried his best as a pass-catcher today, and even took a few big shots to the back, but C.J. Brown threw countless times over his head or led him too far on the sidelines to ever get on track. One-hundred-thirty-eight of those yards came on kick returns, with his 41-yarder the Terps biggest play of the day.
Meanwhile, though, the rest of the receiver numbers were sparse, as Long led all Terrapins with six catches for 59 yards, Winfree had two for 14 yards, but Diggs had just the one grab, on the final series, and Hayward went quiet after his first quarter catch and run. The rest were blanked, and 27 yards was the longest play through the air all day. Amba Etta Tawo, starting for Leak and coming off a three-catch day last week versus Iowa, had none.
It's confounding that Maryland's most skilled unit remains it’s most untapped. But it wasn't for lack of trying today, as they put themselves in position open downfield, and took their blows at the hands of Wisconsin's unforgiving defense.
'Big Picture' in the BIG
Randy Edsall put the Wisconsin loss on coaching, and clearly Gary Anderson's Wisconsin staff had Maryland's number on offense, defense and special teams in Maryland's first road Big Ten loss.
Even Maryland's stellar special teams fell prey to its first big-play fake of the season, when Wisconsin's punter used a Tim Tebow-style jump pass for a big first down in the first half, and that kind of set the tone for the day on an afternoon nothing went right for Maryland.
Maybe the highlight, even for 'Testudo' the mascot, was the end of the third quarter 'Jump Around' student dance, when the Maryland mascot was even seen doing it on the sideline despite the lopsided scoreboard look. That’s how rough an outing it was, with really no positive to come away with.
The Terps still have to find offensive balance, C.J. Brown some modicum of accuracy again, but over-arching it all was the size and advantage BIG schools like Wisconsin have in the trenches against Maryland. Former Mount Airy, MD/Linganore High School product tackle Rob Havenstein, all 6-foot-8, 333-pounds, who some said would be too slow of foot for the big-time, sure had his way on a few big plays and scores for the Badgers today, and he's another that got away Maryland has to try and keep home. He was a Ralph Friedgen recruit, not Randy Edsall.
Maryland's senior-laden defensive line was dwarfed all day by the Badgers, while the blitzing zone Badgers defense had little trouble busting through Maryland's yeoman, smallish offensive line to keep C.J. Brown under duress most of the day.
It starts up front in the trenches, and Maryland has begun to do a good job addressing its offensive line talent shortcomings and depth (see freshmen Derwin Gray and Damian Prince, both redshirting this season), but today's first true 'big boy' test in the BIG showed Maryland's inadequacies up front, both sides of the ball. The Terps need a big close to recruiting on both lines, especially the defensive, where they must reload in a hurry with three of their top four graduating.
What We Learned After Wisconsin
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