The Randy Edsall regime ended at Maryland over the weekend.  After a 2-4 start in his fifth season at the helm–and a mark of 22-34 over the last four and a half seasons–Athletic Director Kevin Anderson fired the first major hire of his tenure.  There are those who say that Maryland is a “basketball school” (despite National Championships in other sports ranging from mens soccer, women’s lacrosse and competitive cheer)…and football is an afterthought.  There are others who feel Terrapin football should strive for the “big time”…as there is a history of achievement from Jim Tatum to Jerry Claiborne to Bobby Ross.  If relieving a coach after an 8-win regular season (Ralph Friedgen in 2010) or firing a coach at midseason isn’t big time enough,  I don’t know what is.

Five What If’s of the Edsall Era–

1– LIGHTNING STRIKES!  Leading Bowling Green 13-6 at the half, a nearby lightning storm turns halftime into a ninety minute intermission.  The Terps come out in the second half and get run over by the Falcons in the second half, losing 48-27.  Edsall replaces Perry Hills with Caleb Rowe for the next game against South Florida (a win)…and Rowe eventually self-destructs in blowout losses to West Virginia and Michigan.

2– Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold…in the Fridge.  Leading Rutgers 35-10 late in the second quarter an unsportsmanlike penalty leads to a Scarlet Knights TD going into halftime.  Maryland manages just 3 points the rest of the way as Rutgers rallies to win 41-38…giving offensive coordinator Ralph Friedgen one happy return to his alma mater/former employer.  More importantly, it prevents the Terps from finishing 5-3 in the Big Ten their first year in the league…and begins the 4-8 slide that would see the end of Edsall.

3– CJ stands for “Concussion Junction”– off to a 4-0 start and ranked in the top 25, the Terps traveled to Tallahassee to face Florida State.  To add injury to the 63-0 insult, quarterback CJ Brown left the game with a concussion…and wasn’t really right for the next month.  Although they’d recover with enough wins to qualify for a bowl, the midseason hiccup of losses to Wake Forest and Syracuse put a sad ceiling on a season that had possibilities.

4– Injuries, Anyone?  2012 began with CJ Brown’s season ending ACL injury…and he wouldn’t be the only quarterback to fall.  Perry Hills and Caleb Rowe would join in the fun…leaving converted linebacker Shawn Petty atop the depth chart at QB in a 4-8 finish.  Just to show it wasn’t a quarterback-only thing, the Terps lost receivers Kerry Boykins and Marcus Leak, defensive lineman Andre Monroe and punter/kicker Nick Ferrara to season-ending injuries as well.

 5– Danny’s Demise– the first quarterback casualty in the Edsall era began in his first season at the helm…with the reigning ACC Freshman of the Year.  Danny O’Brien threw for 2,438 yards and 22 touchdowns in 2010…but never meshed with the new coach and offensive system.  O’Brien threw a couple of crucial interceptions in an early-season loss to West Virginia and was never the same.  He split time with CJ Brown over the next few months before breaking his arm against Notre Dame…and then split for Wisconsin in the offseason.  After another transfer to Catawba College, Danny’s now in the CFL.  His 29 career  touchdown passes at Maryland ranks sixth in school history.

BONUS WHAT IF– November 21, 2010.  Maryland trails Florida State 23-16 with under a minute to play…and Danny O’Brien has led the Terps to the Seminole 19-yard line.  On fourth down O’Brien throws an interceptions returned for a touchdown…and Maryland finishes one game behind Florida State in the ACC Atlantic Division.  If the Terps tally a TD and two point conversion there (not out of the realm of possibility) and advance to the ACC Championship Game, does first-year Athletic Director Kevin Anderson have the wiggle room to fire Ralph Friedgen?

 

Alma Mater Update– was it too much to ask for the Orange to be 4-1?  SU’s 45-24 loss at South Florida calls into question the chances of scoring that sought-after Pinstripe Bowl banner.  They still have games with unbeatens Clemson and Florida State on the slate…and who knows how many more quarterback injuries they’re due for this fall.  Very nervous now headed into Kippy and Buffy Land…as the last time they visited Charlottesville they came undone a few months before the end of Paul Pasqualoni’s tenure. 

 

Maryland capped the end to the Edsall regime by losing at #1 Ohio State 49-28…in a game that was tied midway through the 3rd quarter.  Unfortunately the Buckeyes were just too much and the Terps lost their fourth 20+ point game this year.  Terrapin Triumphs– no, that was NOT CJ Brown at quarterback.  Perry Hills simply set a new quarterback rushing record with 170 yards on 25 carries…while also tossing a 52-yard TD pass to DJ Moore.  The defense held the Buckeyes ground game in check for much of the afternoon…Anthony Nixon leading the way with 11 tackles.  Nicolas Pritchard averaged 44+ yards per punt.  Terrapin Troubles– the passing game fell flat as Hills completed just 10 of 27 passes.  The lack of a consistent receiving threat (again nobody with 5 or more receptions) undercut the offense.  Penalties (9 for 63 yards) continue to pose a problem.  Next:  October 24th against Penn State at Baltimore (the Nittany Lions are 5-1 entering Saturday’s game with #1 Ohio State).  Kickoff and future coach to be announced.

 

Virginia Tech bounced back from consecutive losses by posting a Friday night victory over NC State, 28-13.   Will this be what turns around what has been a very rough season so far in Blacksburg?  The remaining slate is far from fearful (final six opponents are a combined 18-17).  Hokie Highlights– the running game woke up from its early season slumber, tallying 200 yards (Travon McMillan leading the way with 97 on 11 carries).  Brenden Motley notches 3 touchdown passes–all to Isaiah Ford–with no interceptions.  The defense holds the Wolfpack to 5-15 on third down and posts 4 sacks.  Hokie Humblings–  another slow start (trailing 10-0 early in the 2nd quarter) didn’t doom them against an NC State that is on a collision course with 5-7, but what will happen when they face Coastal Division co-leaders Duke and North Carolina?  I just had to double-take after typing that the Blue Devils and the Tar Heels were atop the Coastal.  Really?  Next:  Saturday at 12:30pm against Miami (Hurricanes are 3-2 after a five-point loss to #11 Florida State).  Hokies can all but eliminate the Canes again from Coastal contention.

 

Virginia dropped its ACC opener to Pitt 26-19 in a game that summed up 2015:  plenty of possibilities but another frustrating finish.  And it doesn’t get any easier:  the remaining schedule is a combined 22-16.  Cavalier Congrats– the defense handcuffed the Panthers after halftime (91 total yards)…while returning a fumble for a TD.  Micah Kiser forced the fumble while tallying 11 tackles on the day.  Cavalier Concerns– the offense converted just 5 of 15 third downs while allowing four sacks.  The defense took a quarter and a half to wake up…and at that point they were behind 17-3.  Next:  Saturday at 3:30pm against Syracuse (Orange are 3-2 after losing Saturday at South Florida).  Kippy and Buffy are debating which red they bring to the tailgate already.

 

Navy was on its way to upsetting #15 Notre Dame…until the Fighting Irish pulled away from a 21-21 tie to beat the Midshipmen 41-24.  Now that an unbeaten season is in the dustbin, the pursuit of an AAC West Division title can resume.  Midshipmen Medals– Keenan Reynolds rushes for 110 yards while the team gains over 300 yards on the ground.  Brendon Clements led the defense with 7 tackles and an interception.  Dishan Romine notches a 58 yard kickoff return.  Midshipmen Miscues–  two fumbles led to 14 Notre Dame points… while the Mids converted just 2 of 11 third downs.  Next: October 24th against Tulane (Green Wave are 2-3 after a 49-10 loss to Temple).

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