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Talented Terps Becoming B1G? Maryland-West Virginia Recap, with 4-0 in Sight

Analyzing Maryland’s in-game adjustments and big play potential from their rivalry win over West Virginia.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 04 West Virginia at Maryland Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Maryland 30, West Virginia 24

Ed. note: This was supposed to be for SMCD but [/waves hands]. Thanks to Larry for dropping me a line with this recap of the game—he was in College Park for the Terps technically-upset win over the Mountaineers.

Watching live always gives a different impression than what you get watching the telecast.

There was only 1 punt in the first quarter. By the early 2nd quarter, West Virginia led 21-17, and it looked like Big 12 football was in full effect.

However, the reality is both teams came up with very effective schemes. WVU attacked the edges. Maryland Terrapins did a ton of quick screens out of spread formations. After WVU took the lead 21-17 early in the 2nd quarter, both teams made the necessary adjustments. MD got a field goal at the end of the 2nd quarter to make it 21-20. Neither team scored in the third quarter. MD held WVU scoreless for more than 40 minutes, from most of the 2nd quarter through most of the 4th quarter.

All of the sudden, B1G football was in full effect.

A common narrative for this game was that Maryland had the talent and WVU had the better coaching. To me, both teams looked pretty even in talent and in coaching. It was a well-coached hard-fought game well into the 4th quarter, until MD pulled away at the end.

The game was still 21-20 when MD got a sustained drive and knocked in a field goal to go up 23-21. West Virginia returned the kick-off to MD’s 45 yard line and drove to the red zone and looked poised to take the lead with, at minimum, a field goal. WVU called a fade route on the left side with a short out route underneath, but Jakorian Bennett read the WVU QB’s eyes, peeled off his man who had run the shorter out route, dropped back, and grabbed the interception in the end zone, which was thrown to the receiver running the fade. To me, this was the play of the game. It took away a chip shot field goal, which would have given WVU the lead.

Starting on their 25, MD continued to rush and eat clock. WVU’s No. 1-in-the-Big XII defense looked gassed. On 3rd and short, MD needed a first down to keep the clock running, up only 23-21. MD ran a QB sweep, proceeded by some misdirection. Smart call. They ran it to keep the clock running, but it was an unexpected call. Plus, with Taulia Tagovailoa running it, it provided an extra blocker on the sweep.

Three plays later, it was 3rd and 5. Having made the adjustment to get MD out of their short screen pass game, the Mountaineers brought more players closer to the line of scrimmage...but left Rakim Jarrett in man coverage. He was wide open, and Taulia had enough time in the pocket— he hit Rakim Jarrett in stride for a 45-yard touchdown. Bold call. WVU gambled that MD would run it, leaving Jarrett in man coverage.

It is a call that you do only if you trust your QB. Maryland trusts Taulia, and they got rewarded.

The Good

  • Maryland beat a quality opponent in a very entertaining game.
  • Taulia went 26-36 for 332 yards, 3 TD and 0 INT - as Tauli goes, MD goes.
  • Dontay Demus and Rakim Jarrett had 6 recetions each, totally 120+ yard each to average 20+ yards per reception.
  • MD held WVU to 46 yards rushing - a promising sign given that this has been a consistent problem for MD going back for as long as they have been in the B1G.
  • MD won the turnover battle 4-0.

As mentioned ealrier, WVU looked gassed at the end of the game. I think this is a sign that MD finally has positional depth at most positions (except offensive tackle), which gave them a crucial advantage at the end of the game.

The Bad

  • Red zone offense was not good. Kicked field goals instead of getting touchdowns on both trips into the red zone.
  • MD gave up kick off returns of 98 yards and 55 yards. Not good, Zooker. Punting was decent and field goals were good. Only missed one from 50 yards, which had plenty of distance but hit the upright. Hit a 45 yarder. But kick off coverage was horrid.

What Next?

I’m sticking with my prediction that Maryland comes out of the gate 4-0, at least until they lose. [WVU, Howard University, Illinois, and Kent State]

My 7-5 prediction does not look like pure fantasy and blind optimism, although the Terrapins’ schedule toughens up real quick after the first 4 weeks.

Note: Maryland plays Howard next. The Terps will win. This game will not provide anything meaningful to gauge their progress. This is like the Huskers playing Fordham, but with one important difference: when Maryland schedules a cupcake, it is always a local HBCU, so that these local typically underfunded programs can get a decent payout to help their depleted athletic departments. So, at least there are some altruistic intentions when they pay for a guaranteed win.