1) Our TT Friday Forecast/prediction focused on being prepared out of the gates in that environment and being able to withstand adversity, for in this series usually one team seizes momentum early and the other crumbles. And quickly. That was the Terps on Saturday at Morgantown, as they could do no right in the 45-6 drubbing, their worst out of conference loss since 2009 at Cal. Starting at QB with four picks and mass disarray, a soft, sieve-like defense that gave WVU reams of time and yardage to operate underneath as well as blow Maryland off the line, and another sea of penalties (10 after an ugly 12 last week), it all came crumbling down in Mo-Town in a critical swing/barometer game for the Terps. Like WVU two seasons ago in Baltimore, this time the Terps looked dazed and confused and had no one to rescue them, be it player or coach, as execution, scheme, adjustments, ability to make one-on-one plays, etc., all fell by the wayside in the landslide. Add talent, too, as the Terps just didn't have much in this dress-down, and no answers in terms of alternatives now to turn to.
2) Speaking of talent, and starting at QB, there is just so little top-level talent on this team. Even the team's seemingly top all-around-talent, all-Big Ten junior cornerback and return ace Will Likely, was dressed down yesterday time after time in coverage, twice on deep balls for scores, and even in the return game where he dropped one kick and never logged a significant return in the kick/punt game (and there were many opportunities in the rout). Both lines of scrimmage got pushed around again, quarterbacks Caleb Rowe and Daxx Garman heard footsteps and saw collapsing pockets most of the day, and it all starts up front, where Maryland hasn't had its way since the opener against lowly FCS Richmond. The Terps LBs corps was exposed again, the secondary gashed or flagged trying to make plays, and again tackling was half-hearted with sloppy technique and too much yardage after first contact. WVU back Wendell Smallwood, who Maryland passed on in recruiting after showing early interest, gashed the Terps for 147 yards and a score on 22 rushes, and he never went down at first contact. There are just too many recruit misses on the roster, and the last two Top 40-50 ranked classes are coming home to roost. The two-star 'finds' are just not cutitng it, guys like LB Jalen Brooks, who is a great kid but probably should be in the Ivys.
3) And it's not confined to those units. The Terps receivers, though hardly knowing what to expect from erratic gunslinger Rowe each time out, were running weak routes, often broke the wrong way, and when physical plays needed to be made in the air (see Taivon Jacobs on one) to prevent picks after poor Rowe throws, well they were nowhere to be found. Granted, some rookies are playing now, including Jahrvis Davenport, who though he pulled down that long TD toss from Garman late, looks lost still when it comes to route running and adjustments.
4) And that linebackers corps, sheesh. A lof of Maryland's units look like mid-major groups, this one particularly so. Coverage, tackling, vision, and instincts all remain poor, not to mention lack of much athleticism or physicality at all, save for an occasional good play by sophomore Jermaine Carter. Yesterday the middle was wide open all day for WVU to carve up the Terps underbelly on quick tosses and slants off play-action and the like, the Terps LBs seemingly 10 yards off on most every play. Freshman Brett Zanotto, as well as redshirt freshman Tyler Burke, got some more run yesterday, but for now there are not a ton of other alternatives to somehow breathe life into the group. Two of the three starters almost seem to have a disdain for hitting, and certainly lack feel for the position as well, often out of position and not able to make stops when on the ball. See Jefferson Ashiru in the goaline yesterday, when a WVU ball-carrier bounced off him and into the end zone for an easy score. WVU rolled up 601 yards offense, and set a school mark for first downs, and could have had more it not for its own 12 flags.
5) And let's not forget Rowe, who had the worst performance of any Terps quarterback we can recall. He finished a horrific 10-for-27-67 yards, 0 TDs and 4 picks day reeling, both him and the offense and the coaches for sure. Trust was a big key with him before, and now what little the staff had in the careless hurler has to be mostly destroyed. Sure, Randy Edsall may trot him out again as the starter this week against Michigan in the Terps Big Ten opener (Daxx Garman didn't look like the answer late yesterday, either, though it was his first action). But mental fortitude and resolve Rowe lacks more times than not, his focus wildly erratic, and a nation-leading nine picks in three games (one of those was only mop-up duty) and the BIG season hasn't even started? Well, the way this thing is going, unless Rowe settles down and takes what defenses give him and stops forcing things, we may see a game of musical chairs at QB, which is never good (three so far in four games). Garman, albeit just his first run, looked tentative and unsure of himself, and sailed some balls and didn't react quickly enough in the pocket at times. He has some rust to shake, and confidence to gain, after starting the season No. 3. We're just not sure there is a better alternative, and if Rowe can settle down some (well, a lot), he still represents the best chance to get the Terps vertical despite his glaring flaws. There will be some game he shoots you in, but obviously many he shoots you out. But the Terps may just have to roll with the Rowe punches until help arrives next year in Dwayne Haskins.
6) Star-crossed senior running back Brandon Ross, you almost have to feel bad for him. The Terps could sustain nothing much on the ground yesterday to try to get some ball-control/drives and keep it out of WVU offense's hands more. Ross peeled off a few good runs (he did finish 15-130 yards), but his 55-yard dash down the left sideline, only to get tripped up from behind and fumble on the one yard-line and out of the end zone for a WVU touchback, sadly sums up much of his fits-and-starts career. Fumbling used to dog him early in his career, and when the Terps finally got a big play Saturday, it came back to sting him yet again. And as for the run game, we still won't mind seeing a game where Wes Brown, the Terps most physical and downhill runner, gets 20-25 touches to see what he can do. But it still aint happening, his touches few again (3-13 yards). A lot of yesterday's action was outside, so maybe speedy freshman Ty Johnson was a better chance out wide, but we would like to see what Brown can do more of between the tackles. But that also goes back to UMD's offensive line, which aint exactly giant-killers, so...
7)Coaching/Intangibles - Four weeks in and you are still preaching/admonishing about the fundamentals and techniques. Well, there must be some gigantic communication void, as that was what all fall camp was about, and the spring before it, and the years before that, etc., for this junior and senior laden squad. Either someone aint listening or someone aint coaching, or Maryland just has such sub-par talent across the board that can't compete at this level. We are seeing more and more of it each week, and the losses are only going to mount and maybe get a lot worse. But if the coaches aren't communicating effectively with the players by now, or the players have tuned out, well it will make for a bad brew this month as the BIG gauntlet begins with red-hot Michigan Saturday at what will likely be a shell-shocked Byrd and fanbase. The penalties/lack of discipline, again in that area for a second straight week, is particularly galling as well. Everyone is left scrambling for answers yet again, all from a coach who prides himself on discipline in his program. Maryland, top to bottom, must show an ability to bounce back from adversity, as there will be much this season. So far we don't see that mental strength and resiliency anywhere in the program, and Edsall was left asking for leaders to emerge yesterday on the post-game podium. The team lacks both mental and physical toughness, sense of urgency, natural-born leaders, We could go on. Oh, for the days of a Shaun Hill, Josh Wilson, E.J. Henderson, Kyle Schmitt -- to lead by words or example -- or for a straw that could 'stir the drink,' controversial or not. Like a Shawne Merriman or a Leroy Ambush or a Vernon Davis. The Terps need that kind of fire, from within, and in a hurry.