COLLEGE PARK, Md. — I’ve been to more exciting wakes.
I wish that statement wasn’t true, but it absolutely is.
The University of Maryland (2-2, 1-0 ACC) defeated Towson University (3-1, 1-0 CAA) 28-3 Saturday in front of a less than inspired announced crowd of 35,573 at Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium. It was the first ever contest between the in-state rivals yet somehow doesn’t seem like the most memorable.
The game was probably closer than the 28-3 final score would indicate, but it certainly wasn’t any more entertaining.
Despite wind and rain that made the temperature feel like it was in the 40’s, I’m pretty sure I saw both Terps and Tigers fans napping in the lower bowl of the stadium in the 3rd quarter.
Okay, I’m clearly exaggerating, but I assume you get the point.
After suffering a 38-7 drubbing at the hands of Temple University in their third game of the season, the good will generated by the Terrapins from a high profile victory over Miami, a near defeat at the hands of a quality West Virginia team and the national attention that came along with their new Under Armour uniforms are all gone.
Saturday’s win won’t get the Terps any face time on ESPN. It certainly won’t be discussed by a ton of folks around water coolers this week.
To be fair, the less than impressive nature of the victory means it’s probably for the best that the game will be forgotten quickly. The Terps were outgained by their in-state FCS opponent 378-335, they lost the time of possession battle 35:39 to 24:21 and their new “high powered” offense generated just 137 yards via the air.
Head Coach Randy Edsall admitted after the contest his team is still far from where he wants them to be.
“I think we still have a long way to go” Edsall said. “We’re a young team. We’ve had some younger guys have to play because of injuries. We just have to keep getting better.”
Even Towson coach Rob Ambrose thought the Terps were sluggish in victory, saying “I never thought they had the momentum. They were kind of holding on the whole time. They were up tempo, but it wasn’t like they were doing anything we didn’t know.”
Edsall noted the progress would have to be made quickly, as the Terps now begin a three game stretch that sees them challenge three currently ranked opponents. The Terps will travel to Atlanta next Saturday to face #21 Georgia Tech, with a visit from #13 Clemson and a contest with #23 Florida State in Tallahassee looming in the following weeks.
It’s the type of stretch that is hard to imagine the Maryland team that showed up against Temple and Towson having any success against.
Edsall added another piece to the Terps’ puzzle by inserting backup quarterback C.J. Brown into the third quarter of Saturday’s win. Brown completed two of three attempts for 14 yards before again being replaced by starter Danny O’Brien. After making some questionable decisions in the team’s loss to West Virginia and struggling against the Owls, O’Brien was again underwhelming, completing 14 of 21 attempts for 123 yards and two touchdowns Saturday.
Edsall said the Terps had planned to insert Brown into Saturday’s game.
“We wanted to get CJ (Brown) some work” Edsall said after the game. “Hopefully nothing happens to Danny (O’Brien), but I want to make sure CJ has work in a game. CJ’s a young man who hasn’t played a lot of football since high school. If he would end up having to go in and play for us, I just wanted to make sure that he’s comfortable, he’s ready and he’s in with those guys.”
It’s a logical thought process against a CAA opponent, and could easily be dismissed as just that. Instead, Edsall refused to comment on how much he might consider using Brown in the future as he didn’t want to give away any gameplan ideas to future opponents.
Okay. I guess.
There were a few bright spots for the Terps in the victory, including DL Joe Vellano (1.5 sacks) and freshman RB Justus Pickett, who tallied 82 yards and his first career touchdown on 14 carries to go along with starter Davin Meggett’s 102 yards on 16 carries.
But even with a few bright spots and a victory, this Maryland team is difficult to figure at best through four games.
The answer will come over the next three weeks whether the team is prepared for it or not. The competition is too good for Maryland to get wins without playing at a very high level.
It’s just hard to fathom that coming right now.
NOTES: Kickoff for Maryland/Georgia Tech next Saturday is set for 12pm (ESPNU)……Edsall did not believe TE Matt Furstenburg’s late game injury was serious, saying he thought Furstenburg could have returned to the game if necessary……Edsall’s postgame comments are available in the BuyAToyota.com Audio Vault at WNST.net……Towson returns to action next Saturday with Richmond coming to Unitas Stadium. Kickoff is 7:30pm on AM1570 WNST.net