Terps Fight Through Mistakes To Beat Canes 32-24

9/5/2011 8:15:36 PM They gutted out a huge opening season victory in the face of a driving rainstorm in front of a sellout crowd on national television.  Take that sentence in.  Savor it.

Sure, the Terps performance against Miami left much to be desired; but a win is a win.  Much will be made of the following:
1.  Miami was missing 8 of its best players due to suspension
2.  Maryland's uniforms look like the State flag threw up on them (they are beyond awful).
3.  The Terps had seven trips to the red zone and came away with one offensive touchdown. 

Only one of those three things matter:  the red zone offense. The good news is that Terps moved the ball with ease against a stout defense.  They ran well and Danny O'Brien was sublime minus two bad throws (both in the red zone).  What's more the Terps don't play again until September 17th against WVU, so they will have time to work on execution inside the 20.

Look, it's the first week of the season.  They will get better.

Perhaps more troubling was the defense and special teams.  Ferrera was shaky on his FG attempts and he wasn't able to put one of his kickoffs inside the five let alone the end zone.  Ferrera's punt was a wounded duck too.  Kickoff coverage was also suspect.  Miami enjoyed great field position all night.

On Kickoffs, the returners (don't know their names yet) looked extremely tentative.  They stutter-stepped all the way to first tackler and barely got outside the 20 on most kickoffs. 

Defensively, the Terps were opportunistic and forced key turnovers that they turned into 14 points (they almost outscored the offense!).  However, Miami's offensive line largely dominated the line of scrimmage and the Terps were on their heels for much of the game including a brutal 8 minute fourth quarter drive that briefly gave Miami the lead.

The stars came up big when it mattered. Cameron Chism had two INTs (included the game sealer) and forced a key fumble.

Overall, the defense is clearly a work in progress; but I think they will improve as the season continues.  The talent is there. 

In the final analysis, I'd be remiss if I didn't highlight Danny O'Brien's work.  His deep pass that led to the final score was brilliant.  He demonstrated complete command of the offense and moved the ball with ease.  He's going to be a great quarterback.  The Terps can win an ACC Title with him leading the charge.

Now, it's off to prepare for a massive home contest against West Virginia.  A win there and the Terps are looking at 4-0 heading into the ACC opener @Georgia Tech. Sure, it's a long season; but tonight was one helluva start.
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