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27 Random Thoughts on Maryland

Random musings and general discussion on the weekend that was against the Terps in Baltimore

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

The Penn State Nittany Lions played a game of football against the Maryland Terrapins on Saturday afternoon. It was in Baltimore. The Lions won. I have some thoughts. They are in random order:

  1. Nice to play this game in M&T Bank Stadium. I'm not always a fan of the pro stadium experience for college games, including games at Lincoln Financial Field and FedEx Field. Still, I've heard good reviews, and the atmosphere seemed reminiscent of our game against Syracuse in MetLife Stadium.

  2. Call me crazy, but I think those 1961 Maryland uniforms are a significant upgrade from the glitz the team normally dons.

  3. There has been a lot of discussion about whether Maryland (and, to a similar extent, Rutgers) can be considered "rivals." Like I mentioned last week with Ohio State, rivalries can be somewhat difficult to define. Sure, I'd rather beat Ohio State, just like Ohio State fans would rather beat Michigan. I think, though, that the tenor of the discussion over the past week clearly shows that Maryland and Penn State have some kind of connection. I think you need to win more than twice in 39 tries to be considered a true "rivalry," but it's safe to say that Maryland and Rutgers are traditional geographic rivals in every sense of the word. We recruit against them, we (now) play them annually, and they care about beating us more than teams like Indiana and Illinois ever would. Frankly, I enjoyed the past week immensely and hope to see that continue to grow. Also, a tip of the cap to the Maryland fans who wandered over here in the last week for some good discussion in the comments section. That's one of the best reasons that this community exists, and I hope you come back regularly.

  4. Some people seem to be of the belief that this game barely resembled football. It was not always the most technically sound game, and each team made its share of errors. That's college football. This game was an exciting, back and forth affair that featured big plays on both sides of the ball and a one-point victory. Hard to argue with that.

  5. Was it just me, or did Ray Bentley sound vaguely like Brian Regan on the broadcast? 

  6. Congratulations to Christian Hackenberg on setting two Penn State passing records on Saturday. He's taken a beating over the past two seasons and his fair share of criticism, but Number 14 deserves to be remembered in Penn State lore for his contributions to the program. He came when the program was down, he's put his body on the line, and, at times, he's been the sole driver of a struggling offense for almost two years.

  7. The officiating was perfectly acceptable, although I thought they missed an ugly chop block in the first quarter on a blitzing Brandon Bell that could have turned out poorly. I was just glad he was able to get up and keep playing.

  8. Great game by Brandon Bell. Bentley was right - when you wear number 11 at Penn State, you better make big plays. Plenty made by Bell.

  9. Perry Hills is an outstanding athlete who played a good game. I know he turned the ball over several times, but he was clearly the engine that made the Maryland offense go. Penn State often had many opportunities to stop Hills before he got moving, but he managed to escape and break plenty of big plays.

  10. That said, this defense is troubling to watch against dual threat quarterbacks. Hills is a good player, but he managed to look like the second coming of Pat White (or JT Barrett) on the field at M&T Bank.  There were multiple times that the linebackers had a chance to make a tackle and prevent a big play, but took a bad angle or completely missed a tackle. Not the best performance from Troy Reeder or Jason Cabinda. They are budding stars, but this game shows that they still have plenty to learn before we officially anoint them as the next great players at Linebacker U.

  11. I guess we learned that Saquon Barkley is human after all. Human in the sense that it's tough to break 40-yard runs when you're being simultaneously tackled by nine large football players. The fumbles were frustrating, but he was going to fumble sometime. By and large, I thought he took what he was able to take, plus a few yards here or there. The touchdown run was a thing of beauty as well. It's a special player who has such a great impact on a game without putting up big stats, but Barkley was able to do that.

  12. Maryland knew that it was going to have to stop Barkley to have the best chance of winning this game, and it sold out to do so. Cover Zero or Cover-1 most of the day, with a focus on preventing Barkley from adding plays to his already full highlight reel. I thought Maryland did a particularly nice job of staying in position and limiting Barkley's cutback opportunities, which is where he has been finding a significant number of yards all year.

  13. Of course, if you sell out to stop the run, you leave yourself vulnerable to explosive plays through the air. That's exactly what happened. Not the most efficient day in terms of completion percentage for the passing game, but Hack threw multiple perfect passes downfield and Chris Godwin, DaeSean Hamilton, Geno Lewis and Saeed Blacknall each made great catches.

  14. Despite this, I actually thought Hack's two best throws were on two 3rd-and-15 plays, one in each half. On the first, he climbed the pocket, showed good awareness, and delivered a perfect strike to DaeSean Hamilton. On the second, he made a perfect throw in stride to Godwin, who turned upfield and dragged defenders past the sticks for a first down. I'd like to see more of that.

  15. My goodness, Chris Godwin's one handed touchdown catch. Not to mention the rest of the plays he made all day. Kid was outstanding.

  16. Manny Bowen smacked Will Likely on a return after one of the DaeSean touchdowns. Penn State was called offside and had to re-kick. So, of course, who else was in on the tackle the second time down the field? Manny Bowen. Great awareness by a young player against a special team standout.

  17. I dug the use of Likely on offense for Maryland. Use your most explosive players to make things happen. I do not at all understand using a "wildcat QB" in Shane Cockerille when you have Perry Hills running for over 100 yards against Penn State. That lacked sense.

  18. This is a game that Penn State loses last year, or perhaps even earlier. Let's appreciate the struggle of a young team learning to make big plays when it counts.

  19. Love the double pass trick play. Nice sell on the block by Akeel Lynch. Outstanding pass by Geno Lewis on the run. That was a well-designed trick play that could have gone for big yardage if we had converted. Tough drop by a normally reliable player in Lynch, but I enjoyed the call.

  20. Did NOT love ESPN's coverage of that play. You can hear the announcers screaming, "DOUBLE PASS!" Somehow, though, the replay of the wrong part of the prior play's personal foul call is still on the screen. Just amazing.

  21. Either way, welcome back Geno Lewis. A big imprint on this game with a beautiful touchdown grab in the 4th quarter, as well as this double pass. I was happy to see him more involved in the game plan this week. He had some brutal drops early in the year, but he looked great on Saturday.

  22. No significant issues this week with the offensive game plan. The Terps stacked the box and left their corners on an island, so we made them pay by using our superior athletes and a quarterback who throws the best deep ball in the business. That's exactly what we had been looking for all year, and we delivered.

  23. I've rewatched the McSorley substitution play multiple times. Maryland made the exact right call - new quarterback who is not warmed up? Jailbreak blitz. It was...effective.

  24. Carl Nassib's sack could not have come at a better time. The Big Ticket put Hills on his back on a critical third down late in the 4th quarter.  Nicely done.

  25. Last year, James Franklin and his staff took grief because they ran the ball to grind down clock against Maryland, and it bit them. This year, they go off-tendency and attempt a third down pass with 1:30 left in the game in order to seal the win. Ray Bentley took issue with that call, believing that they should have run the ball to burn clock and/or force Maryland to use their final time out. This just proves that everyone has an opinion and it's impossible to make everyone happy.

  26. Overall, I thought Maryland let it all hang out. They took chances on defense, left their corners in single coverage, and tried to make big plays on both sides of the ball. Lots of respect. I thought Penn State handled themselves well after struggling to find their footing early in the game. The defense put in a championship-level effort to seal the win after struggling to stop Hills and the Maryland offense for much of the game. This was a much-needed win to get back on the right track after a tough loss against Ohio State.  

  27. Bowl eligible. We are...