Sunday notes: Stefon Diggs, offense was effective early vs. N.C. State

October 21, 2012

Some quick-hitting notes following Maryland’s 20-18 loss to N.C. State at Byrd Stadium:

>> This will probably be moot once the MRI results return on Perry Hills’s knee, but Maryland looked like it had effectively adjusted its offense in the first quarter, installing some West Coast principles that helped string together a 10-play, 67-yard scoring drive on its first possession. 

Stefon Diggs was the main beneficiary of the no-huddle operation with quick screen passes to catch the Wolfpack off guard, and even got a trick pass in there on first-and-10 from the N.C. State 27. He finished with a career-high six receptions for 61 yards, all in the first half, effectively disappearing once Devin Burns entered and passing became a secondary option.

“We knew coming in that the backup quarterback was a runner, but we didn’t know what to expect,” N.C. State defensive end Brian Slay said. “He hadn’t thrown a ball all year, so we knew he was going to come in and run, but we didn’t know what he was going to do. It was hard to have him thrown in and us not be prepared for him at all.”

>> Speaking of Diggs, the coaching staff seems to have drilled this whole fair-catch thing into his head. The Wolfpack punted eight times, and Diggs only had room for one return, which went for minus-one yard. He nearly broke through on multiple kickoffs, still putting together four returns for 72 yards, but was unable to get to the second level.

“We’ve done a good job for the last three weeks against really good return guys,” N.C. State Coach Tom O’Brien said. “He’s got great moves and great vision. I thought our coverage teams did a great job.” 

>> What some Wolfpack players said what they were thinking as they watched on the sideline while Brad Craddock lined up for a 33-yard field goal attempt with six seconds remaining: 

QB Mike Glennon: “I hoped he was going to miss it, but you never really know what’s going to happen. It was a great win. You kind of hate to see it end that way, but it was still just a great win for us. … That was the first time that has ever happened to me. I watched it. It looked left to me and then when it hit off the upright, I didn’t know which was it was going at first. For us, good thing it was wide left.”

WR Bryan Underwood: “I was just not looking, but praying and hoping for the best. We heard the bang and it was just a great feeling.” 


Brad Craddock’s potential game-winning field goal attempt had players nervous on the Wolfpack sideline. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

>> Perhaps lost among the heartbreak were plenty more stellar individual performances on Maryland’s defense. Jeremiah Johnson had a pair of huge pass breakups in the fourth quarter. Darin Drakeford finished with six tackles, including 1.5 sacks. Demetrius Hartsfield tied a game-high with 13 tackles, while Joe Vellano was typical Joe Vellano, finishing with 10 tackles and a half-sack. A.J. Francis had two breakups at the line, both of which could have been intercepted, while Dave Stinebaugh blocked a punt in the third quarter that set up Wes Brown’s one-yard touchdown leap over the pile. 

“They are playing well and they are playing together to execute,” Coach Randy Edsall said of the unit.

>> Levern Jacobs and Nigel King each recorded his first career reception. King flashed some speed down the near sideline on a 33-yarder to set up Craddock’s potential game-winning attempt, while Jacobs hauled in a 19-yarder from Hills in the second quarter. Marcus Leak had a career-high 94 receiving yards, including a career-long 47-yard reception. 

>> Brown didn’t get a carry until the second quarter, but at least for the time being seems to have earned himself the starting running back role with 121 yards, Maryland’s first 100-yard game since C.J. Brown against Wake Forest late last season. Asked if he agreed, the Good Counsel product emphatically said: “No. Not at all.”

The Terps had 41 rushing yards at halftime. They finished with 206.

“We came in and knew that Perry was down,” Edsall said. “We made the adjustments we needed to make to give us an opportunity to move the ball and score.”

>> Craddock got a shot at punting with a short field in the second quarter after Nathan Renfro mustered a 30-yarder on his previous attempt. Craddock’s, however, went for 23 yards.

Alex Prewitt covers the Washington Capitals. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt or email him at alex.prewitt@washpost.com.
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