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Maryland-Clemson recap - Not as bad as advertised

By Rick Nelligan

Don’t give up hope yet, Terps fans. This team is not as bad as the 31-7 score might suggest. I know it sounds crazy, but that game is the most impressed I’ve been with the team all year long. I honestly wouldn’t put the blame of this game or the score on the players. Granted, there were a few dropped passes, missed blocks, etc. But the Terps hung in there and fought with a team that is arguably much more talented than they are in one of the most hostile stadiums in the ACC. If you take away the kickoff return for a touchdown and the pick-six, the game ends a much more respectable 17-7.

That said, if there was someone I would put the blame on, it would be offensive coordinator James Franklin. This could just be because of the bitterness I’ve had ever since he was named “head coach in waiting,” (is it just me, or should you at least have one of the top six offenses in the ACC before you are named as the next head coach?). Regardless of my feelings, Franklin did not give the Terps a chance to win the game Saturday.

Franklin clearly became enamored with his new redshirt freshman toy, quarterback Danny O’Brien. He gave up on the running game entirely too quickly. If you ask any half decent football coach how to neutralize a great pass rusher, they say run the ball, and then run it some more. The Terps even have two very talented running backs in Da’Rel Scott and Davin Meggett. Instead, Franklin decides to throw the ball 45 times. Fans will get on the offensive line this week for their poor performance, and admittedly I wanted to as well. But looking back on it, I just feel badly for them. Once Franklin gave up the threat of the run, the Clemson defensive linemen started to think about what they should write on their thank you cards to the offensive coordinator.

In the first half, when the score was 10-7 until there was under a minute left, the Terps ran the ball 11 times with their running backs. In the second half, the Terps ran the ball a total of three times with their running backs. Are you kidding me!? The game was not that out of hand. You can’t give the ball to a freshman quarterback with a struggling offensive line in Death Valley that many times and expect him to be successful.

I’m not calling for anyone’s pink slip just yet, but this team is much better than it’s been showing. The players just need to be put in a position to be successful. On defense, that happened on Saturday, as the Terps held the Tigers to 213 yards of total offense. That is a huge success on the road. I sincerely regret not being able to talk about the defense more, because they really stepped up their game. The Terps offense was not given the same luxury, and it needs to change. I expect a lot more from the “head coach in waiting.”

By Box Seats blogger  | October 18, 2010; 9:00 AM ET
Categories:  Rick Nelligan, Terps  | Tags:  Rick Nelligan, Terps  
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Great assessment Rick. I felt the same way as this was not a terrible defeat and was not happy with the play calling. Usually I won't get into that because I am not a play calling expert myself but I wondered where the running game went in the second half. The way you get rid of that pass rush is by calling draws, delays, counters and QB sneaks. That is at least something I do know. I will give them this, they did call a lot of screens but you still need to run the ball and screens so not take the place of runs on the stat sheet at the end of the day.

The defense was amazing and was mainly dealing with a shorter field. We gave up such great field position to Clemson in that game it caught up with us on defense and on offense considering we were always going the length of the field for most of our drives.

And I would not be surprised to see Tony Logan returning kicks this week as they need someone back there with Torrey still trying to get through his injury.

Posted by: DiehardTerp | October 18, 2010 12:52 PM | Report abuse

I really hoped that a trip to Death Valley wouuld spark a resurgence at Maryland the way the VT/Clemson game in 1988 did for the Hokies. Maryland just needs to believe that they can win. They can. They are so close, which is why it's so hard.

Keep on Terps. We're rooting for you!

Signed, an old Hokie who's first college game was in 1972 at Maryland (with the red vuvulezas before they had a name beyond "plastic horn") who got to ride to the game in a '72 Hemi 'Cuda that's probably now worth more than my house.

Posted by: RogerRamjet2 | October 18, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Franklin has and always will be outclassed. He has very little football knowledge and experience. He's been the recipient of good networking with NFL coaches/staff to get where he is and is not qualified for the MD job. He is truly outclassed in the ACC against quality coordinators and that is the reason for MD's struggles. He's just not a very good coach and with Yow gone, MD would be wise to get a truly qualified coach to lead the charge. Let Franklin recruit and learn as the WR's coach and RC...

Posted by: leed1911 | October 18, 2010 10:36 PM | Report abuse

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