Postgame notes: Even in loss, Stefon Diggs continues to shine

November 3, 2012

(John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

>> Whichever quarterback lines up under center for Maryland matters not to Stefon Diggs. The true freshman just keeps making plays. It took him a half to get going Saturday against Georgia Tech, finally emerging after classmate Shawn Petty settled into the offense, but Diggs wound up with two touchdowns, including a soaring grab as time expired.

Diggs finished with 220 all-purpose yards and is averaging 174.9 all-purpose yards per game, which would be most all-time among ACC freshmen. He also managed to set program freshman records for single-season receiving yards (721), receiving touchdowns (six) and all-purpose yards (1,774).

“He’s a great player. Playmaker,” Petty said. “He makes it a lot easier. You get him the ball, he’s going to make you look good. Whoever’s out there, you have to get him the ball. We want it in his hands a lot.”

Diggs lost his cool early on, drawing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty when, after having his forward progress halted, he was driven past the line of scrimmage and threw the football at his would-be tackler.

That emotion was channeled into his 16-yard touchdown reception late in the third quarter. Diggs took a slant route, juked around a Georgia Tech defender and dived for the goal line, barely stretching across the plane. He stood up, ran across the end zone, spiked the ball and pounded his chest.

“Just me being a competitor,” Diggs said. “Not taking anything stuff from my opponents. I made a mistake, lost my cool a little bit, trying to compete at all times. I learned from the experience.”

For some reason, however, Diggs’s postgame media session consisted primarily of reporters asking him whether he believed he deserves more touches. He handled it well.

“I’m always satisfied with how much I get the ball. We’ve got a lot of guys on our team who has a good ability to make plays. I think I had an okay day. Could have been better, but that’s why we get back in the film room, why we practice.

“I don’t want the ball any more I’m already getting. I’m just thankful for getting the ball in the first place. We had a lot of QBs go down, so got to work with what you got.”

>> Cole Farrand recorded a career-high 10 tackles, matching his career high with six solo tackles, but was hard on himself in postgame, especially with regards to defending the Yellow Jackets’ sweeps to the outside. “For me, I was having a hard time getting off the cut blocks,” Farrand said. “That’s definitely something I can work on in my personal game.”

>> Demetrius Hartsfield was helped off the field after getting his leg jammed in the second quarter, and never returned. After the game, Hartsfield, who had nine tackles all in the first half, tweeted that the injury was “nothing serious.” Same went for running back Wes Brown, who gave way to Brandon Ross in the second half after tweaking his ankle. Brown told reporters that it was “very minor.”

>> It’s been a strange year for Ross, perhaps lost among the hullabaloo surrounding Maryland’s quarterbacks. He was named the starter in the preseason before sitting out three games with a hamstring injury. Then he got 20 carries for 52 yards at West Virginia, five carries for one yard the next week and zero attempts against Virginia. The past two weeks, he didn’t see the field at all.

He was strong in Brown’s stead against Georgia Tech, however, rushing for 66 yards on 12 carries, after finding out this week that he would play.

“I didn’t know how much I’d play,” Ross said. “It was definitely good to get back out there, start playing. Felt good. It’s been a while. I was just glad to help the team move the ball.”

>> Nathan Renfro struggled again to find consistency with punts, averaging just 35.8 yards on five attempts, including a 17-yard shank. He nearly had another blocked.

“When he punted, I tried to tell him beforehand, but when he was punting with the wind, drop the ball higher so it carries more,” Coach Randy Edsall said. “But when you’re into the wind, drop it lower. After I talked to him, he started kicking the ball a little better. Sometimes you have to remember, these kids are so young. Some of them are still getting in situations that they haven’t been into.”

>> Tyrek Cheeseboro continued to provide value on special teams, forcing a fumble in the first quarter that Sean Davis recovered. However, he left after leading with his helmet on a tackle late in the game.

>> What did everyone think of the “Wildcrab” offense? Catchy name, and Brown flashed some skills while taking snaps in the shotgun, including a couple nifty touch-passes to Diggs sprinting across the field in motion. The Terps all but abandoned it later once Petty returned to the field and they were forced to play catch-up.

“I thought it was productive for us,” Edsall said. “It’s a situation where, as coaches, we have to find things that will give us the best opportunity to win, and take some of the pressure off Shawn in there.”

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