Despite their matching 7-5 records, the Stanford Cardinal was the heaviest favorite of any team participating in a bowl game this year. The oddsmakers and talking heads were not wrong; the Maryland Terrapins were dominated in the first annual Foster Farms Bowl Tuesday night. The gusts of wind swirling about Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara blew the football from the tee twice before Maryland kicker Brad Craddock could strike it to begin the game. The 45 degree temperature at kickoff was uncharacteristically chilly for Western California this time of year. The Terps were also cold, but this unfortunately was not so uncharacteristic. Stanford set the tone for the night on the opening possession by driving 75 yards in 12 plays and scoring their first of six touchdowns in the game. The Maryland defense struggled to get pressure on Kevin Hogan all night, and the Stanford quarterback accounted for 240 yards of total offense and two passing touchdowns. Cardinal running back Remound Wright rushed eight times for 49 yards and three scores, while Christian McCaffrey made the Terrapins look silly on every one of his seven carries.
With the loss, Randy Edsall is 0-2 in bowl games since becoming Maryland’s head coach in 2011, and has missed the postseason altogether twice. The 7-5 record in 2014 is nothing to scoff at, especially taking into account it being Maryland’s first season as members of the Big Ten, but as a Maryland alum and fan I still feel unsatisfied. The inaugural Big Ten season is officially in the books, however, and the Terps will look to build upon a winning record and a bowl appearance next season. Here are a few observations and takeaways from the 2014 season:
The Terps need a traditional pocket quarterback in 2015.
Sixth-year senior C.J. Brown played in his final game as a Terrapin, finishing with 205 passing yards, one interception, and one rushing touchdown. His faults do not need to be documented at length here, as his decision making and accuracy issues were a topic of discussion all season long. While Brown ended his Terrapin career as Maryland’s all-time leader in total touchdowns (responsible for 58 total), he will likely be remembered for his legs more than his arm, and his interceptions and overthrows more than his touchdown passes. Don’t get me wrong, Brown was no Boomer Esiason, but I feel some of the criticism he encountered in 2014 could have been diverted elsewhere, such as poor individual play-calls, inexplicably awful game planning, and a season-long lack of any semblance of a running game (outside of Brown himself). That said, it is time for Maryland to make the move back to a more traditional, pocket quarterback in 2015. Whether or not Stefon Diggs stays or enters the NFL Draft, Maryland will still have substantial weapons at wide receiver next season including Juwann Winfree, Daniel Adams, and both Jacobs brothers. The offense should focus on getting the ball into the hands of these playmakers, and if Diggs returns that’s obviously just a (huge) bonus. Caleb Rowe will fill the role as starter, and hopefully his previous experience under center has groomed him well to take the reins for the first time in his career as the unquestioned starter.
William Likely and Andre Monroe are studs.
Likely: The sophomore cornerback led the Big Ten in interceptions in 2014 and may very well be an NFL star in the making. He was included as part of ESPN.com’s All-Big Ten team, and made his presence felt yet again against Stanford. It was as a member of special teams, however, as Likely took a Stanford kickoff 100 yards for Maryland’s second touchdown of the game. The Terrapin secondary was shredded more than once this season, but Likely was a significant factor in many of the Terps’ seven wins as both a playmaking defender and a dangerous return man on special teams.
Monroe: DT Andre Monroe entered the game against Stanford tied for the all-time lead in career sacks as a Terp. After taking down Cardinal QB Kevin Hogan in the first quarter, Monroe became the sole record holder for career sacks with 25. Monroe had 10.5 sacks in 2014, which was the eighth-most in a single season for a Terp in school history.
Maryland needs to find a go-to running back.
How Maryland got to seven wins without ever having established a formidable running game is a feat beyond explanation. Only once all season did a Terrapin running back eclipse the usually not-so-elusive 100-yard plateau in a single game. Terps fans can complain about inefficient quarterback play, or injuries plaguing the team yet again this season, or dropped passes, or a defense that as a unit fell far short of preseason expectations. I wouldn’t disagree with any of the above, but I’d argue the single most detrimental aspect of the football program in 2014 was the mind-boggling lack of a rushing attack. The lack of production at the position is directly linked to the season-long utilization of a two- or even three-running back by committee system. Brandon Ross and Wes Brown split carries for the majority of the season, with Jacquille Veii and Albert Reid (earlier in the season) mixing in as well. Edsall forced the idea all season, and there isn’t a single example of it having paid off. Maryland needs to settle on a starting running back next year that can carry the load for the Terps.
The Terps will never be competitive against elite programs under Randy Edsall.
The exceptions to this rule of course were the Terps’ wins at Penn State and at Michigan. Both were great wins for Maryland, but those teams had down years in 2014. This may be too broad of a generalization, but it seems before Edsall arrived at Maryland the Terps at least stood a chance of pulling off an upset over a top-10 or -15 program. In 2004 Maryland took down #5 Florida State. Although 2007 was an overall disappointing season, the Terps managed to defeat #10 Rutgers and #8 Boston College. In Ralph Friedgen’s last four years as Maryland’s head coach (2007-10), the Terps went 7-6 against ranked opponents. Under Edsall, Maryland has not managed to win a single game against a ranked opponent and is 0-10 (2011-14). This season the Terps were destroyed by Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Michigan State. We can add Stanford to the list.