So that's pretty crazy, right?
One week ago, let us recall that we were rehashing the Terps latest disappointing letdown against MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE. And today we beat... a No. 23-ranked Cal?
I don't know. Nobody knows. Not even the Schmuck. I'm not even going to pretend to understand how different this team looked today. I suppose you could attribute some of that to jet lag. You could say that Cal couldn't play defense. But you have to give the Terps some credit for an amazingly efficient offensive performance, and good defense for three quarters. Props as well to the fans who were dedicated enough to stay the whole game through the sunburn and dehydration (I wimped out early to be honest).
I mean, let's look at some areas of statistical weakness we talked about last week:
- Chris Turner bounced back from a three-interception performance last week with a 15-for-19 showing with 156 yards and two touchdown passes. Not stunning numbers, but the kind of numbers Maryland needs to complement their rushing game.
- The offensive line looked better, but Turner was still sacked four times. We need to improve in this area. But on rushing plays, the line was hitting their blocks very well against a seemingly toothless Cal defense.
- On the other side of the ball, the defensive front seven finally had some pressure... most of the game. The team had five sacks today, with two from Moise Fokou and one-and-a-half from Rick Costa. It was a big improvement from zero total sacks in the first two games. Beyond that, the line and the backers ate up the run. The Golden Bears finished with 38 rushing yards, the Terps had eight tackles-for-a-loss, and Dave Philistin had 13 total tackles. Like a champ.
- Obi Egekeze still stunk it up, to put it lightly. He missed a 27-yard attempt. Ugh. Right now, Obi is 0-for-5 on the season. I'm thinking about camping out on my roof until he does it. Anyone with me? Anyone?
The biggest problem is a classic Maryland characteristic: We have a hard time holding a commanding lead. The secondary was torched for three touchdowns in the fourth quarter, which is simply inexcusable, and I expect Friedgen to say as much this upcoming week.
It was a problem last year against Boston College, and the Terps routinely come down to nail-biting finishes. The best teams in football take commanding leads and hold them. We need to play a full game. The offense did a great job of this, especially considering Da'Rel Scott went down for the game in the first half (he seemed OK at the end and was on the sidelines). The defense was blown away.
We'll see if perhaps Maryland treats Eastern Michigan the same way they treat Cal. EMU just lost to the Toledo Rockets and is currently 1-2, but I think a good lesson the Terps learned a week ago is to not take opponents lightly.
But today, way to go Terps, and good win!
UPDATE: Also, good hit Kevin Barnes! You know how when an announcer says that hit made him spit out his breakfast? Well...
Photos courtesy of baltimoresun.com.