After reviewing the film of Maryland’s 31-21 loss Saturday to No. 8 West Virginia, Coach Randy Edsall noted four missed opportunities by the Terrapins that, had they been seized, could have contributed to a monumental upset at Mountaineer Field.
Here’s the breakdown of all four plays:
Scene: First quarter, 0-0. Second-and-five on West Virginia 30.
Result: West Virginia safety Darwin Cook timed a perfect safety blitz. He came charging in from deep in the secondary, reached the line at the snap and popped Perry Hills in the backfield mid-handoff. Doug Rigg scooped up the fumble and rumbled 51 yards for a touchdown.
Edsall: “We just missed executing the protection and they caused a fumble and they take it in for a touchdown. We were denied opportunities there. Things we could have and should have done to prevent them from happening.”
Scene: Second quarter, Mountaineers lead 24-14. Second-and-10 on West Virginia 24.
Result: After consecutive 15-yard completions to Stefon Diggs and Kevin Dorsey that brought the Terps just outside the West Virginia 20-yard line, they spiked the ball and lined up for a 42-yard field goal attempt with less than 10 seconds remaining in the half. Freshman Brad Craddock, who hit a 45-yarder against Temple two weeks ago, sailed it wide right.
Edsall: “We did a good job in a two-minute situation, then just missed the field goal.”
Scene: Third quarter, Mountaineers lead 24-14. First-and-10 on West Virginia 38.
Result: West Virginia’s offense had stalled in the third quarter, and three first downs brought Maryland into Mountaineer territory with a chance to chop into the double-digit lead. Instead, Hills took a seven-yard sack on first down and rushed for a two-yard loss on second down. On third-and-19 from the West Virginia 47-yard line, Marcus Leak dropped a pass near the first-down marker.
Edsall: “It would have given us a first down, or at least fourth down and short. Then I’ve got to make the decision to kick the field goal and go for it. So we lose a scoring opportunity there.”
Scene: Fourth quarter, Mountaineers lead 24-14. First-and-10 on Maryland 48.
Result: The Terps took over at their 23-yard line following a West Virginia punt, just minutes after Leak’s dropped pass. A 21-yard third-down conversion from Hills to Pickett brought Maryland to near midfield. But on first down, Hills was sacked for a nine-yard loss. Leak then hauled in a 25-yard reception, but Darwin Cook poked the ball free and Terence Garvin recovered. West Virginia’s next drive ended in a 34-yard touchdown pass from Geno Smith to Tavon Austin that all but sealed the win.
Edsall: “We have a young man just trying to do too much, doesn’t have good ball security. Again, another opportunity that puts us in scoring position. Against a team like West Virginia on the road, you can’t squander those types of situations.”
But what about on the defensive end? The Terps limited West Virginia to four explosive plays, a term commonly defined as a run of 12 yards or longer or a pass 20 yards or longer. But all four were passes, and three resulted in touchdowns by AUstin.
The Baltimore native’s first touchdown, a 44-yard haul in the first quarter, came after a missed tackle. Edsall attributed missed communication and blown coverage to Austin’s second score, a 24-yarder with 52 seconds left until halftime. His final touchdown, which made him the first receiver to have three touchdowns in one game against Maryland since 2001, came when Maryland blitzed on third-and-15 from its 34-yard line. Austin slipped past the linebackers and was wide open. Edsall said the Terps “had a guy who was supposed to be over the top” but just didn’t get there in time.
The Terps, on the other hand, had seven explosive plays for 205 total yards: two runs for 32 yards and five passes for 173 yards. But just two of those seven ended in the end zone.
“When you take a look at that, we only get two touchdowns off those explosive plays,” Edsall said. “It leads back to those four drives. It’s one of those games that comes down to maybe four or six plays on each side of the ball where we didn’t get it done, but we did a lot of good things throughout the game.”