PHILADELPHIA — Before I head back to the Washington area and get my blood checked to see if Cheese Whiz is now coursing through my veins, here are some postgame news, notes and observations from Maryland’s 36-27 win over Temple at Lincoln Financial Field.
As always, thanks for reading. You know where to reach me. Have a good Sunday, and we’ll be back tomorrow with plenty more postgame posts.
Stefon Diggs again limited, but still electric
After the William & Mary game, Coach Randy Edsall said that the Terps fell short of their goal to get Diggs at least 10 touches. He wound up with eight. Saturday, Diggs had nine touches. The dynamic freshman finished with three catches for 59 yards — including that 38-yard haul in the fourth quarter — two rushes for 17 yards, three punt returns for 34 yards (including a fumble) and one kickoff return for 25 yards.
On kickoffs, it got to the point where Diggs would just stand still and watch as the football sailed over his head. He might want to get used to that. But offensively, Diggs was electric. He had a 12-yard reception and a 12-yard rush on the same drive in the first quarter that set up Matt Furstenburg’s 22-yard touchdown catch.
Diggs disappeared in the middle periods. Then again, the Terps scored 23 second-quarter points without Diggs getting a touch.
Now, about that muffed punt.
“Stefon will be better for dropping the punt,” Edsall said. “Knowing that situation, just get the ball back. We don’t need to make a play there. But he has such confidence in his ability that every time he touches it, he can make something happen. In that situation, you just have to catch the ball. Give us the ball back.”
Big plays for A.J. Francis
He deflected praise after the game, but Francis undoubtedly made a difference on the defensive line. He had a sack, recovered a fumble and blocked a 23-yard field goal attempt with 8:11 left in the fourth quarter.
Edsall said that was the best he’s ever seen Francis play, noting his maturity as a non-captain senior who’s “relishing the fact that this is his last opportunity to play college football.”
Always down for a good quote or tweet, Francis gave an extended evaluation of just how that blocked field goal came about. On the play, Joe Vellano said he heard the ball get swatted, and instantly knew it was Francis.
“I almost blocked two before then,” he said. “They came out and changed how they blocked field goals. I watched protection all week, and they would play kind of high. We were expecting to come out and just push the pocket, and then we have guys, the way they cut on the field goals, you want to swim them instead of push because they go so low.
“On the first, even though I didn’t get any push I still almost blocked it. Swam the next one, got in the backfield, didn’t get it. The third one, I was like, ‘Man, I’ve got to get it.’ We called the perfect play. [Darius] Kilgo pushed, Joe pushed and I was in the backfield able to block it. I was put in the right position, and performed for the team.”
●Edsall isn’t too worried about true freshman running back Wes Brown, who had seven carries for 50 yards in his first collegiate action but fumbled twice.
“This is college football. This isn’t Good Counsel football anymore,” Edsall said of Brown’s high school alma mater, with a smile. “And Wes knows that he made a mistake, but again we’re not going to be down on Wes. He’s out there trying, and it’s a learning experience. That’s why we put him back in there. And he’ll be better for it.”
● More will come on Justus Pickett later this week, but the sophomore running back credits his offseason conditioning with putting him in better shape to excel in the fourth quarter. He had seven carries for 36 yards Saturday in the final period.
● Brown and Pickett received the bulk of the ground game, and Albert Reid never got a carry after entering the opener as Maryland’s starter. Edsall said the Terps had planned to use him in short-yardage and goal-line situations, but those never came about. “We weren’t down on Albert,” Edsall said.
● Demetrius Hartsfield credited proper planning as the genesis of Maryland’s success against the Temple ground game. Having watched so much film, Hartsfield would call out the plays from his linebacker position. “We played a well-disciplined game,” he said.
● Fullback Tyler Cierski was taken off the field early in the game with an injury. His status is unknown. “We’ll know more tomorrow and see where he’s at,” Edsall said. “He gets hurt, and thank god we have the depth we have.”