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Terps football - Phase one complete

By Rick Nelligan

Phase one of the Terrapins season was to erase last season from memory. For those of you who have been reading my posts over the past month or so (and if you haven’t where have you been?), you have seen that a recurring theme for me has been the nightmare known as the 2009 Terrapin football season. In my opinion, phase one has been successfully completed. In 2009, the Terps started 2-3 through their first five games. They were blown out by California, squeaked by James Madison, then lost two straight to Middle Tennessee and Rutgers at home before getting a gift from above by beating Clemson. They then went on to lose every game the rest of the season, including on the road against Duke.

Through the Terps first five games this year, they are 4-1 with a quality win to start the year against Navy. They then went on to thrash Morgan State, got outplayed in West Virginia and beat Sun Belt Conference member Florida International (beating a team from the Sun Belt had been a struggle for the past two years). That brings us to our win this past weekend against Duke, which summed up the entire year perfectly. Our offense struggled to get going and was sparked only by big plays. On defense the Terps struggled to stop the Blue Devils in between the 20’s, only to bail themselves out at the last second either by a timely turnover or by forcing a field goal. Special teams were excellent as they have been for the majority of the year by making Duke march the length of the field before they could even think about scoring.

Not to mention big plays by who I believe is the phase one MVP, Tony Logan. On seven of the twelve times Logan has returned a punt, the Terps went on to score. In the four games the Terps have won, Logan was arguably the one to provide the spark that the Terps so desperately needed to get them going. Against Navy, Logan had a 58-yard punt return in the fourth quarter. Against Morgan State, he returned four punts for 128 yards, including a big 68-yard return which set up a touchdown. Against FIU, Logan returned a punt 85 yards for a touchdown and the Terps never trailed again for the rest of the day. Finally, against Duke, Logan returned a punt 84 yards in the third quarter which gave the Terps the spark they so desperately needed after going into halftime down 9-7 with an anemic offense.

There is definitely room for improvement for the Terrapins in all facets of the game. But at this point, last year is definitely firmly in the rear view mirror. Now they move onto phase two, which is becoming bowl eligible. At this point, the Terps are two games away from that goal, so it’s not exactly out of reach. This week is a bye week to rest up and prepare for a stiff test at Clemson. The Terps must continue to improve upon what they’ve done so far, but they have the talent to make it come together. Hopefully the Terps are successful enough for me to write about phase three.

By Box Seats blogger  | October 4, 2010; 10:00 AM ET
Categories:  Rick Nelligan, Terps  | Tags:  Rick Nelligan, Terps  
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I think a lot of people are misinterpreting the Terps offense. This is a big play, quick strike unit. People complain about them not being able to sustain drives but when most of your passing plays go down the field, the further you throw the ball, the less chance of it being completed. I think the surprising thing is that they call so many plays that have long routes with a shaky offensive line. That will be a thing to watch as we get into the thick of the ACC schedule.

The defense is going to be on the field for more plays than the offense more often than not as a result of all this and Don Brown needs to adapt and plan a little bit better. He says everyone plays and it looks like they do sub in a bunch of people very often especially along the offensive line, but I feel like they know everything about us in the first half which gets us off to bad starts and then we make adjustments. We need to do more of the dictating and get off to a better start and come in plays and formations on offense and defense that they don't expect. This might be extreme but I think it's a good example. It seems like we always recruit a bunch of guys are are former quarterbacks that move to a different position, why not use that to our advantage in a wildcat or option pass/halfback option.

It will be interesting to see what they accomplish over this bye week and how much they get out of it. I hope for the best but there are obviously concerns and executing it on the field will be the most important part going into Death Valley.

Posted by: DiehardTerp | October 5, 2010 9:40 PM | Report abuse

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