September 6, 2008

Maryland Terrapins Officially Irrelevant

After barely squeaking by FBS Division opponent Delaware at home by a score of 14-7 last week, the Terps proved what we already feared - they're not very good. The switch at QB from Jordan Steffy to Chris Turner actually proved to be a step backwards. The switch in playcalling duties from head coach Ralph Friedgen to offensive coordinator James Franklin was promising, but in practice has resulted in the most predictable, boring and ineffectual offensive scheme in the modern history of football.
Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders

And so tonight the Terps fell on the road to the Sun Belt Conference's Middle Tennessee State University 24-14. The 14 points were scored on a 63-yard Da'Rel Scott run and an 80-yard Heyward-Bey WR screen. In other words, vanilla play calls that were busted open by our only two offensive playmakers. QB Chris Turner was beyond putrid, overthrowing every open receiver and leaving his most catchable balls for the defenders, with three INTs. One INT quickly led to a MTSU touchdown, and another occurred in the end zone.

The scariest thing is that losing to a directional school does not even induce catatonic depression. Here is a partial list of non-BCS teams Maryland has lost to in either football or basketball since winning the national championship in basketball in 2002:

--Middle Tennessee State (2008, football)
--American University (2007-08, basketball)
--Ohio University (2007-08, basketball)
--Virginia Commonwealth (2007-08, basketball)
--Butler (2006-07, basketball)
--Manhattan (2005-06, basketball)
--Temple (2005-06, basketball)
--George Washington (2005-06, basketball)
--George Washington (2004-05, basketball)
--Northern Illinois (2003, football)

Granted, some of these teams were slightly talented, like Michael Turner's Northern Illinois team or Butler's NCAA tournament team. Still, when your football program wins 31 games in three years and your basketball team spends the majority of 1998 to 2002 in the top 10, you should not be losing to any non-BCS school (or Notre Dame, which the Terps have lost to regularly in basketball and once in football over the relevant timeframe).

I think it's time for those of us who are Maryland alums in our late 20's to accept that we attended the school during its brief two-sport heydey. Now we've returned to the muddled, mediocre middle of the NCAA Division I landscape, viewed alongside such schools as NC State and Ole Miss. Sure, we can put together a halfway decent season now and then. Perhaps we can even climb into the teens in the rankings. For the most part, though, we're just filling out a schedule for the real powerhouses.

It's going to take some time to adjust.

8 Responses:

Russell said...

Yeah, it's been a while since I've felt so thoroughly humiliated about a game. We were whipped on both sides of the ball from the opening kickoff til the final whistle, and we lost special teams too. By a Sun Belt team.

Can't wait til next week. Cal beat Washington St. 66-3 in Pullman, and their RB had 200 yards. If we can't stop MTSU and Delaware on the ground, this could get ugly. Let's hope we can play up to our opposition.

"ben" said...

Before the season, Jeremy confidently bet me that Maryland would win more games than Michigan. I wasn't feeling too good about it last week. I feel a little better this week, although I'm not sure I see Michigan winning too many more games at this point, either.

Russell said...

That's a competition in futility. 4 wins might be a winner between those two.

J-Red said...

Yeah, it's like the race between the Ravens and Redskins to five wins and the Nationals v. the Orioles. It's basically going to come down to how hard other teams are trying towards the end of the season.

I have a proposal to get Maryland back on track offensively. Look for it Sunday night. I need to Photoshop a few formations and plays and I won't be back home til then.

Jeremy said...

Holy crap, I totally forgot about that bet. I'll just send my money now. How much do I owe you?

Brien said...

Why were we even playing @ MTSU? I know we have a 2-for-1 home/away deal with them, but seriously? Isn't Maryland a big enough program that we shouldn't be traveling to Murfreesboro, TN?

Not to say that we're a better team than MTSU (obviously we're not), but teams that regularly finish in the top half of BCS conferences should not be traveling to play Sun Belt Conference teams.

Also, WTF was up with Comcast having Kelly Holcolmb in the booth for the game? He was inducted into the MTSU Hall of Fame before the game, and referred to the Blue Raiders as "us" and "we" throughout the game. It's embarrassing enough for the Terps to travel to a SBC school and get whupped, but to have to listen to a MTSU homer call the game just makes it far worse.

I keep thinking that Franklin must be setting up for a big Portis trick play. There's no other excuse for running the same damn play every time he's in the game. Every time he took a snap, MTSU knew exactly what was going to happen. If there's a trick play in the works, last night might have been a good time to bust it out. It's not likely to make much of a difference against Cal.

And really, the option is a rhythm system. You need to run it consistently to fall into a good rhythm to be successful. Running it once or twice a quarter on 3rd and 6 (when the other team knows it's coming) is a recipe for disaster.

J-Red said...

I found Holcomb annoying, but he really wasn't too painful as far as obvious homers go. He did a pretty good job restraining himself. When I first tuned in and he referred to MTSU as "Middle", I knew he had a LOT of familiarity with the Sun Belt.

My fix for Maryland is going to come Thursday. It'll be more painful if it's fresh on your mind before Cal shuts us out.

"ben" said...

Jeremy, I think we need to let this play out. We can do double or nothing on Skins and Lions, too.

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