COLLEGE PARK, Md. (WUSA) -- Maryland's Athletic Director Kevin Anderson said on a radio show on June 13th, that "the way things happened and transpired, whoever I was bringing in here was probably going to have difficulty unless it was Jesus Christ."
He was referring to Terps head coach Randy Edsall struggling to win games last season after taking over for his predecessor Ralph Friedgen. Well, today began year two as head coach for Edsall and he finally has the players he wants to run his system. No longer should winning be biblical feat. But if you watched Saturday's game, you probably do think Jesus suited up and saved them.
Maryland trailed for most of this game against William and Mary. The Tribe held a 6-0 lead until Maryland scored a touchdown with 9:52 left in the fourth quarter. True freshman quarterback Perry Hills threw three interceptions and the offense looked bad ... not Michael Jackson "Bad," either. I mean awful.
The student section was maxed out at kickoff, but was half empty by halftime. The students probably saw what I saw, a preview of the next 12 weeks. If you struggle against the Tribe, just wait until you play a team like Clemson.
Despite the struggles, a win is a win, and there were positive aspects of the Terps' game.
Defensive Line: You wouldn't know it by watching, but the Terps' D-line is banged up. However, the big guys played better than any other unit on this team. These guys stuffed the run and applied pressure on the Tribes' quarterbacks throughout the game. As a result, W&M barley rushed for over 100 yards and was limited to 125 yards passing all game. It all began with their stud defensive end Joe Vellano. Edsall referred to him as "the kind of football player that every coach loves," and he showed why on Saturday. Tribe struggled to contain him as he bullied linemen on his way to 11 tackles and an interception. He did not get a sack, but his unit recorded three of them.
Stefon Diggs: The star freshman shined on seven of his eight touches. Edsall said they fell short of their goal of getting him ten offensive touches and had they done so, I think he would have made a bigger impact. On Saturday, he returned punts, took hand-offs, and caught a few passes en route to 83 all purpose yards. Fans were satisfied knowing the future is still bright.
Jeremiah Johnson: JJ gave up a one big play in the fourth, but made up for it with his game clinching sack fumble. He was solid in run support and was an effective rusher when he blitzed accounting for 1.5 sacks. The Tribe never really tested him through the air. It was his partner in crime they were after.
Dexter McDougle: As the returning starting cornerback playing opposite of Johnson, he probably did not expect to targeted as much as he did on Saturday. William and Mary made it no secret they were coming after him. After the first quarter, I was talking to Ivan Carter and remember saying Johnson was playing well without realizing they were only throwing at Dex -- on almost every passing play. Good game planning pays off because it worked. Most of the completions occurred his zone or were to his man. To top it all off, he was called for pass interference three times. He admitted to playing bad and chalked it up to "trying to make a big play instead of doing his job" and not "playing fundamentally sound." Edsall thinks the McDougle can recover and learn from this game. I agree. But you have to think when opposing coaches look at tape they will come right back for him.
Offense: I saved the obvious for last. Where to start? Hills played completely different than he did in camp and scrimmages.
"I Just think he was trying to hard," Edsall said after the game. "Some of things he did today we really haven't seen out of him."
Hills is young and you knew he would make mistakes. A running game is a rookie's best friend, but the Terps also struggled in that department. Justus Pickett showed life in the fourth, especially on the score, but the team only rushed for 91 yards ... against the Tribe.
Nothing really positive happened on offense. They struggled throwing it deep, which forced the passing game to consist of a bunch of screens and quick dump offs. Passing for 145 yards will not cut it in the ACC, unless you a strong running game. Which also did not exist.
Tweet of the game:
That sums it up.
In conclusion, this was troubling to watch. Edsall admitted his team has things it needs to work on, but said he was proud of his team for doing what he had been preaching to him all season, "finishing."
"They could have easily folded there tents," he said. "But they kept persevering"
Although this is true, only performing well one side of the ball will not work all season. It might not even work next week against Temple. Edsall said after the game that he never even considered benching Hills despite his performance, but I would not be surprised if Caleb Rowe gets a few more reps at practice. I also expect Diggs and sophomore wideout Marcus Leak to be featured more against Temple. Both had limited touches, but big impact.