Notes on Clemson 56, Terps 45

You don't want to get in a shootout with Clemson

October 16, 2011|By Jeff Barker | The Baltimore Sun

Perhaps Joe Vellano said it best. Clemson is not a team you can afford to get into a "shootout" with.

But that's what happened to the Terps, who collected two big turnovers en route to an 18-point, third quarter lead. Give Maryland credit for that. Particularly since the Terps -- minus injured Demetrius Hartsfield and Kenny Tate et al -- were playing a handful of freshmen on defense. Maryland has had six different defensive starting lineups in six games.

But there was an  air of inevitability about the Clemson Tigers and big plays, right? They seemed bound to get some eventually.

And the big plays rolled over the Terps in the second half like a wave: a 55-yard run by Andre Ellington, a 51-yard completion from Tajh Boyd to Sammy Watkins on the next series. And then the big one: Watkins returns a kickoff 89 yards, putting Clemson in front for good.

Edsall seemed most unhappy with kicker Nick Ferrara after he kicked to Watkins. The coach got in Ferrara's face. Was he supposed to kick away from him or squib it? Edsall wouldn't say.

The Tigers just had so much speed. Watkins had a school-record 345 all-purpose yards.

I thought Maryland might hang in by forcing more turnovers. I've said before that turnovers are the great equalizer. But the Terps, who didn't tackle as well as they need to, couldn't collect any needed turnovers in the second half.

What did you think of  C.J. Brown (school record 162 rushiing yards by a quarterback)?

I liked how he would fake handoffs and then take off  the other way – a form of misdirection that sometimes fooled Clemson’s defense.

Clemson defensive coach Kevin Steele said: "We had a safety on him sometimes and we couldn't catch him. We also had the end on him and we still couldn't catch him."

Brown said Clemson's defensive line didn't rush as hard in the second half because it wanted to lie in wait for him.

Brown wasn't perfect. For example, he was  off on a second-quarter deep throw to Quintin McCree with the Terps ahead 21-10 that was almost intercepted. But he fell victim to a drop by a wide-open Ronnie Tyler on another deep route with the Terps ahead 28-17 in the second quarter. And that wasn't the only drop.

Safety Eric Franklin said he and Cameron Chism both mishandled potential interceptions. Chism did have that big Pick Six in the first half.

In the coming weeks, I'll be trying to assess whether Maryland is getting better. That's important to chart. 

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