Terps Get Revenge on Temple
By David Wheatley
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It wasn't always pretty, but Maryland defeated Temple to move to 2-0 on the season.
It hasn't been pretty by any means, but the Maryland Terrapins are off to a 2-0 start. In doing so, they have equaled their win total from the 2011 season. On Saturday, the Terps went into Philadelphia and defeated Temple, 36-27. The win marked payback from 2011, when Temple came into College Park and blew out the Terps, 38-7. Despite turning over the ball four times, the Terps were able to build a 19-point lead, and thanks to some big plays by their defense, were able to hang on for the nine point victory. Here are five points that the Terps should take away from their 2-0 start:
1. QB Perry Hills showed great improvement from Week 1 to Week 2.
In the Terps' 7-6 victory over William & Mary, Hills had a game to forget, throwing for just 145 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions. Granted, it was Hills' first ever collegiate game, but it also must be noted that William & Mary is an FCS team that was not even ranked in the preseason FCS top 25. Week 2 vs. Temple was a different story for Hills. He finished the day with two touchdown passes and no interceptions. Both of touchdown passes were well thrown balls, a 22-yard pass to tight end Matt Furstenberg, and a 32-yard pass to wide receiver Marcus Leak. On both plays, Hills floated the ball over the defense, right into the receivers arms. In addition to the two TD passes, Hills also made an impressive play with his feet. On a third-and-goal, Hills rushed for an 11-yard touchdown on a broken play. While it will be a lot to ask of Hills for him to lead the Terps' offense this season, Hills showed the ability to effectively manage the offense for a full four quarters.
After the game, Maryland head coach Randy Edsall commented on Hills' performance: "Well he didn't throw any picks, that's one thing. I thought he made some pretty good decisions today, not only in the passing game, but also in the running game. Perry's just going to continue to get better. He's going to be a work in progress throughout the year, but I think any rookie quarterback or freshman quarterback that's what you're going to have. But as long as you make steps each and every week, that's what you're looking for and he made steps today."
2. Maryland needs to cut down on turnovers.
Despite Hills not throwing an interception vs. Temple, Maryland still turned the ball over four times. Most notable were two lost fumbles in Maryland territory by freshman running back Wes Brown. Both fumbles led to Temple touchdowns. When asked about Brown's miscues, Edsall chalked it up as part of the learning process for the freshman: "Wes knows he made a mistake; we're not going to be down on Wes. He's out there trying and it's a learning experience. That's why we put him back in there. He'll be better for it."
Through their first two games, the Terps have turned the ball over eight times. What makes this more troubling is the fact that William & Mary and Temple are two of the weaker defenses that Maryland will face this season.
3. Joe Vellano is one of the most underrated defensive players in the country.
Vellano is not a household name by any means, but he should be. Against Temple, Vellano put in a very impressive performance. Despite frequently being double-teamed, Vellano managed to finished with four tackles, a sack and a forced fumble. What will not go into the stat sheet is the constant special attention that Temple's offensive line had to pay to Vellano, which allowed other Maryland defenders to come in and make plays. This followed an 11 tackle, one interception game vs. William & Mary.
4. Maryland's defense is good enough to keep them in games.
It is very hard to have as poor an offensive performance as Maryland did against William & Mary and still come out with a win. But, that is exactly what the Terps did, and they have their defense to thank for that. The 27 points that Maryland allowed to Temple is a little misleading. 17 of those points resulted from Terrapin turnovers which gave the Owls a short field. Also, the Terps ended up making the big plays when it mattered. In the fourth quarter, defensive tackle A.J. Francis blocked a Temple 23-yard field goal attempt that would have put in Owls within one possession of taking the lead. After the game, Vellano called the field goal block "a huge play and huge momentum changer as well." Another big defensive play for Maryland was senior linebacker Demetrius Hartsfield intercepting a Temple pass late in the fourth quarter, which allowed the Terps to run out the clock.
5. The Terps are undefeated!
It has been a somewhat ugly start to the season for Maryland, and they could just as easily be 0-2. But, the bottom line is that the Terps are one of six undefeated teams left in the ACC. Putting everything in perspective, the Terps still have an immense amount of things they need to improve upon. Not to mention that their schedule is going to get much more difficult in the coming weeks. Still, it is the best start they could have hoped for in the standings, and the team appears to be in good spirits. After the game, Edsall said, "I told them afterwards, we're 2-0 and that's the best we can be. There's plenty of things to work on that's for sure and we'll do that, but I thought we made strides from week one to week two and I think we'll be making strides each and every week."