1. Make the Change at QB Now
Perry Hills, bless his heart, just does not have it. Does not have it to stretch the field vertically, and of late doesn’t have it to hang in the pocket and trust his keys and progressions and blocks. And the only big play left him scrambling for his life for 30-some-odd yards. Well, it just ain't gonna cut it much longer if this offense is ever going to get out of neutral.
Hills doesn’t have a quick enough release, strong enough arm, and seemingly the more time he has back in the pocket, well the greater the margin of error for catastrophe. Yeah, there were receiver drops yesterday, but Hills doesn’t always throw the most catchable ball, either.
Enter Caleb Rowe, the Terps would-be hurler/trigger-man, that is if he can get a bit more focused and into the playbook. He has enough physical tools – the strongest arm and quickest release – but can be a bit flighty from time to time (see yesterday’s back-to-back two bad picks, one thrown into triple coverage, another under-thrown).
But when he settles down and into a groove, well he can move the ball, and we have seen that before. And moving the ball and sustaining drives the Terps need something awful right now, especially given their taxed defense.
And if he can’t do it the next two games, well then time to insert Daxx Garman, who hopefully will by then be ramped up, and more confident, in the Terps offense. Garman has taken a beating the last few years, be it physically with his injuries or mentally with his transfer, but hopefully soon will be able to take the next step and into a comfort level.
The Terps season is twisting in the wind until they find an answer, and leader, at the all-important spot.
2. Rookie Wave on the OL
The feel-good stories of the former walk-on overachievers starting on the line (in fact, the entire starting left side), well, as the Terps ramp up here with the big boys of the schedule, it just doesn’t appear it’s going to cut it anymore.
The Terps lost the LOS battle yesterday against an inferior Bowling Green defense, looking slow and un-athletic, and the pocket broke down at times, while Terps runners were back dancing ‘East-West.’ It was sandlot ball half the time hoping on a wing and a prayer for a big broken play.
Maryland’s offense can’t go an entire first half with no offensive score against a MAC opponent, sheesh, and this team’s identity has to be its run game, followed by play-action, etc. It just doesn’t have the talent/weapons elsewhere now to not try and ground and pound each week.
It’s time to move Ryan Doyle back to his starting left guard spot, and work redshirt freshman Derwin Gray in at left tackle, repping along with Mike Dunn, and especially Damian Prince at right tackle. While they make some rookie rust mistakes coming off their respective injuries (both watched from the sidelines again yesterday) they will give more power and umph and athleticism to a very yeoman line right now that hasn’t proved it can dominate anyone before FCS Richmond.
The coming wars at West Virginia and beyond are daunting, and this makeshift crew aint gonna cut it. Also rep in more of redshirt freshman center Brendan Moore, who is an athletic upgrade, as its high time you pave the future with the four and five-star Gray and Prince, and the youngsters, anyhow. The entire left side caved in at times yesterday, and QB has enough issues as is.
3. D.J., D.J., D.J….
Another experiment that is starting to get old is receiver, where the Terps said all the right things about journeyman upperclassmen Amba Etta Tawo and Malcolm Culmer in the pre-season, but after two games its mostly still ‘same-old-same-old’ with their drops and underachieving.
They are still solid backups. That’s it. So time to start dazzling freshman D.J. Moore, along with both Jacobs brothers, Levern and Taivon.
Levern Jacobs is the Terps most complete receiver, and he’s itching for a quarterback to settle in and down and start getting him the ball consistently. Kid brother Taivon represents the best home-run threat on the roster. Just swing screen, slip screen, bubble screen it, etc., you name it, get them the ball and let them do their things YAC if the passing game is going to sputter still in other ways.
The upperclassmen are backups, period. In fact, Culmer almost got ran down on his TD score last week against Richmond. And the newbies, led by Moore, need the reps, and can stretch the field and finish when they get the ball. Moore looks like an upperclassman already, with good routes, sure-handed and able to get off the press. And, yes, his foot was in yesterday on that great sideline piece of work.
4. Pressure, Pressure, Pressure
Yeah, against a spread you can’t over-commit, and it does require some sitting back. But it’s high time under the Terps new 4-3 scheme, and defensive coordinator Keith Dudzinski, the Terps start at least some stunting and blitzing and getting more creative with their looks.
By the second half, and with no support from the offense, the unit was gassed yesterday. But no one beyond Jermaine Carter is making an impact in the linebacker corps, while you probably need to turn edge terrors Yannick Ngakoue and Jesse Aniebonam loose more to disrupt the backfield. Matt Johnson just had so little pressure on him by the second half yesterday, well, he could just play pitch and catch like in the backyard.
And the Terps may well be holding some more exotic stuff for WVU and the Big Ten schedule, and haven’t shown a lot yet.
But the secondary withered under that attack eventually yesterday, and it all starts upfront with more pressure. Don Brown, Brian Stewart, both former Terps DCs, masked other deficiencies by generating more pressure to keep opponents off-balance, especially the unorthodox Brown, and some of those days need reliving now.
5. Intangibles, I Tell You, Intangibles
It’s only been two games, but if someone doesn’t take ownership of yesterday’s mess, and get this thing moving forward, well it is going to be a long season.
It’s hard to say who is taking responsibility, if anyone, while the staff is still scrambling to figure out its Week Three two-deep. Which if that is going on so long now, well it means there could be a lot of change.
Beyond the aforementioned spots, there’s not a ton of wiggle room on the roster for drastic change, though more Wes Brown/Ty Johnson may be nice in the backfield after Brandon Ross reverted back to form yesterday, failing to hit up in the holes and stringing things sideways. Meanwhile, tight end is underachieving as well (see Derrick Hayward’s drops and blocking), so insert more freshman Avery Edwards there.
But with a precarious future schedule right now with no gimmes the way the Terps are playing, all the standing and staring looking for answers aint going to do it, no matter how strong the Terrapin Leadership Council is.
All the talk needs to be action with the season already at a major crossroads, and no one seemingly grabbing the reigns. There are a lot of nice guys on the team, which is always great. But someone needs to get a bit twisted here, as there was little to no emotion or fire yesterday, at least beyond the Bowling Green contingent.