Synjyn Days went into BEAST MODE on this run.
Pardon the oooold Glen Campbell reference (the codgers will probably get it though)...but we just ran over the 4th best rushing defense in the country. In what was probably the best display of blocking (especially on the perimeter) that Tech has shown this season, the Jackets took care of Maryland by a score of 33-13, and it was never really close. Maryland started a true freshman LB (converted HS QB) named Shawn Petty at QB, after the much discussed season-ending injuries to the top 4 Maryland QBs. Given the circumstances I would say he did alright, especially in the 2nd half.
However, if you think Tech only beat Maryland because we were playing against a one-dimensional offense with an inexperienced and out-of-position QB...think again. The Offensive Line and perimeter blocking won this game, and against what was the strength of Maryland's team. The most important plays of the game, IMHO, occurred in the 3rd quarter. Tech came out strong in the 2nd half, driving it for a TD against Maryland. Maryland responded with a TD drive of their own. Instead of Tech going impotent on offense and letting the opposition gain momentum...Tech responded with their own TD drive to bring the score to 33-7.
Coming into the game, Maryland was ranked 4th in FBS in rushing defense only allowing 2.3 yards/rush. Tech completely handled them to the tune of 6.6 yards/rush and 371 yards rushing on the game. It seemed everyone got into the act, as 11 Jackets recorded rushing yards (led by Orwin Smith's 89 yards on 10 carries). But the most pleasant surprise offensively had to be Synjyn Days, who finally showed us his promise as an A-Back with 66 yards on 6 carries, including a 41-yard scamper down the sideline that included breaking several would-be Terps tacklers.
You wanted more explosion plays, you say? On Saturday you got them, with the Jackets totaling 5 plays longer than 20 yards. How do you get those plays? Effective cut-blocking knocking potential tacklers off their feet and eliminating pursuit...that's how. The run-blocking was so effective, Tech only needed to run 4 passing plays all day. They should have hit all of them too...if not for drops by Orwin Smith and Jeff Greene.
And this just in...Vad Lee is really good!
It's tough to gauge a defense's performance in games where the opponent's gameplan was obviously limited. However, several positives can be taken from this game. First, Tech came out aggressive in the first half, limiting the scoreless Terps to only 59 yards and 2-9 on 3rd downs en route to a 20-0 halftime lead. Playing a bit more conservative on defense in the 2nd half, Tech kept everything in front of them. Maryland sustained 3 drives in the 2nd half (2 for scores, 1 for a turnover) but took a long time to do it en route to only 259 total yards, 5-15 on 3rd down, and 9 TFL. All in all, a good performance by the defense considering Maryland's playmaking ability was limited. I wish they didn't get that last TD on the last play of the game, but by then the game was over.
Jeremiah Attaochu, playing in front of family, was your defensive player of the game with 3 sacks, a fumble recovery, and 6 total tackles (3 TFL). Solid games were also turned in by Quayshawn Nealy (12 total tackles), Jemea Thomas (1 INT, 2 TFL), and Euclid Cummings (1 sack)
Oh boy. This unit is just going to give us heartburn the rest of the season aren't they? Picking up where they left off the last 2 games, the train of special teams miscues just kept-a-rollin' with 2 missed XPs by David Scully (a banger off the upright, and a block), a fumble by Jamal Golden, a running into the kicker penalty that extended a Maryland drive, and the coverage teams let Maryland's Stefon Diggs run wild on returns.
We're at Chapel Hill next week, against a quality foe in UNC. Will the performance against Maryland be just another 1-game tease that only leads to a letdown? Or will it be a springboard for a late-season winning streak?