Tiger Talk: Maryland 63, Towson 17

COLLEGE PARK, Maryland – Making his first start following a season ending injury to starting quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome, Kasim Hill led the Maryland offense over the Towson Tigers on Saturday afternoon, 63-17.

Hill, a true freshman from Washington, D.C., passed for 163 yards and two touchdowns, before he was pulled in the fourth quarter after the game was safely put away.

All week long, Towson coach Rob Ambrose remained confident in the Tigers ability to travel down I-95 and come home with a win.

But the Maryland offense picked up where it left off a week ago in Austin, driving 62 yards for an opening drive touchdown.

On the next drive, Kasim Hill drove the Terps 60 yards in 99 seconds, culminating in a 34-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver D.J. Moore.

Maryland’s running game followed up a 263-yard performance against Texas with a 367-yard day, including a 74-yard touchdown run by Ty Johnson on the Terrapins third possession of the game.

With 5:56 left in the first quarter, the scoreboard read 21-0 Maryland.

After Maryland’s third touchdown of the game, Towson put together a sustained 11 play, 81-yard drive, capped off by a 10-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Stover to Jabari Allen that cut the Terps lead to 14.

Stover, making his first career start in place of injured starter, Morgan Mahalak, made two critical mistakes that left Coach Ambrose incensed on the Towson sidelines.

On Towson’s next possession, the freshman from Pennsylvania threw a pass down the right side of the field that was intercepted by Maryland’s Darnell Savage Jr., who returned it 75 yards for a touchdown, increasing Maryland’s lead to 28-7.

Stover later missed a wide open tight end Joe Green in the end zone on a pass he admitted to rushing after Maryland’s defense broke through the Towson offensive line.

While the Tigers front seven struggled to stop Maryland’s running backs all afternoon, Towson’s pass defense improved from a week ago when they gave up 185 yards through the air to Morgan State.

After the game, Coach Ambrose who said he was, “on a different continent than happy,” did express his admiration for the offense’s ability to move the ball, something they struggled to do against Morgan State.

Ambrose was also pleased with punter Pat Toomey, who averaged five yards more a kick compared to a week ago, including a 65-yard punt in the fourth quarter.

Prior to the game, Maryland coach DJ Durkin demoted placekicker Adam Greene over his struggles to start the season, replacing him with graduate transfer, Henry Darmstadter, who converted all nine extra point attempts.

The home crowd at Maryland Stadium trickled in throughout the first quarter, but the student section was full before kickoff for the first time in years.

Noon starts usually signal poor student attendance which hinders Maryland’s home field advantage, as the student section is strategically located behind the visitor’s bench.

It remains to be seen if Maryland’s blowout victory will be enough to catapult them into the AP Top 25 on Sunday, but Towson coach Rob Ambrose believes if they aren’t, they’ll be there soon.*

GAME NOTES:

  • Towson QB Morgan Mahalak was scratched with an upper back injury. Coach Ambrose told media after the game he knew Thursday afternoon his red shirt junior quarterback would not play against the Terrapins.
  • Towson defensive coordinator, Lyndon Johnson, made his return to College Park where he served as an assistant coach the last five seasons.
  • Maryland wide receiver Jacquille Veii and backup placekicker Danny Sutton both transferred to College Park from Towson.
  • Maryland wide receiver Avery Edwards was ejected after two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.

UP NEXT:

  • Maryland: Bye Week. The Terrapins return to action September 23 at home against Central Florida.
  • Towson: The Tigers travel to St. Francis (PA) next Saturday night to take on the 2-0 Red Flash in Loretto, PA.

*Updated 10:30 p.m. September 10, 2017: Maryland remains out of the Top 25, coming in 31st (AP) and 32nd (Coaches).

 

Advertisements

Tiger Talk: University of Maryland preview

Game 2: Towson Tigers at Maryland Terrapins (-36)

When: 12:00 PM EDT

Where: Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium

Series: Maryland leads the all time series 1-0

When the Tigers run onto the field this Saturday at Maryland Stadium, they’ll do so as 36 point underdogs.

But don’t bother telling them that; especially Coach Rob Ambrose.

Following Wednesday afternoon’s practice, Ambrose reiterated the point he made following Towson’s victory over Morgan State, that as many great players as Maryland has, only 11 can be in on any one play.

While Coach Ambrose and the team remain optimistic, Towson has its work cut out for them.

Not only has Maryland never lost to an FCS Team, they are coming off their greatest game in seven seasons following a shlacking of the Texas Longhorns in Austin last weekend.

Maryland will be without quarterback Tyrrell Pigrome for the remainder of the season after it was revealed he tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during the third quarter against Texas.

The Terrapins now turn to Kasim Hill, a freshman pro-style quarterback from Washington, D.C. who completed all three of his passes after replacing Pigrome last Saturday.

Hill represents a tough challenge for the Towson defense as he is more likely than Pigrome to leave the pocket and take off if a play breaks down than Pigrome was.

Towson cornerback Monty Fenner isn’t worried though, and likens facing Hill to last weekend’s matchup against Morgan State quarterback Elijah Staley.

“We didn’t expect what we’d know from Morgan’s quarterback…all we see on paper is 6’6″, 250 pounds, not what can this kid do.”

Fenner continued, “[Hill] is able to get out [of the pocket] more, but at the moment I feel like our defense is playing a lot faster than before.

Towson’s home opener drew just over 6,500 fans last weekend.

Maryland’s opener tomorrow is expected to draw over 50,000, but again the powers that be in Baltimore County aren’t worried.

They’ve been here before.

Last season the Tigers opened up on the road against South Florida at Raymond James Stadium (home of the Tampa Bay Buccanneers).

In 2014, they played in Morgantown against West Virginia, and in 2012 the Tigers competed well against LSU at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge.

But all the confidence in the world won’t do much good if Towson’s offense performs as poorly as it did against Morgan State, only eclipsing 100 yards of offense on the final drive of the game.

In the two teams only previous meeting, a 28-3 Maryland win, Towson outgained the Terrapins by 43 yards, ran nine more plays and had one more first down than Maryland, reminding everyone games are won and lost in the trenches, not on paper.

Blue Ring Sports will have live team coverage from College Park tomorrow afternoon.

Game Notes:

Towson: Quarterback Morgan Mahalak was under the weather on Wednesday afternoon and missed practice. Coach Ambrose fully expects him to start on Saturday, However if Mahalak is unable to go, Ryan Stover would make his first career start.

Maryland: The Terrapins were 4-2 at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium last season and have won their last 11 home openers. Their last home opening loss in College Park came against No. 25 Clemson in 2005.

Longhorn takedown! Maryland upsets No. 23 Texas

The Tom Herman era in Austin has gotten off to a rocky start as the No. 23 Longhorns fell at home to unranked Maryland, 51-41.

Making matters worse, this was Texas’ first home opening loss in twenty years, and the worst debut in Longhorn coaching history.

The victory marks the Terrapins first win over a ranked opponent since defeating N.C. State seven years ago, and the most points Maryland has ever scored against a ranked opponent.

While Texas closed within three points early in the fourth quarter, the game was all Maryland, all day.

The Terps needed only 12 completions to win this afternoon; nine from Tyrrell Pigrome and three from Kasim Hill, who filled in following an injury to Pigrome late in the third quarter.

Thanks to a strong running game led by Ty Johnson (12 carries, 132 yards and a touchdown) that carried the ball 43 times for 263 yards and four touchdowns, that was more than enough.

Texas Quarterback Shane Buechele wasn’t so lucky and was forced to carry the Longhorn offense all afternoon, as Maryland’s defense stuffed Texas’ run game, holding them to 98 yards on 31 carries, while notching eight tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

The untold story of the game was that Texas only had a chance thanks to their defense and special teams.

Cornerback Holton Hill got the Longhorns on the board early, returning a Tyrrell Pigrome pass 31 yards for six, and later blocked an Adam Greene kick, returning it 65 yards to pay dirt, cutting Maryland’s lead to 13 at that point.

Reggie Hemphill-Mapps returned a Wade Lees punt 91 yards with five minutes to play in the third quarter, cutting Maryland’s lead to three, but the Longhorns would get no closer.

Kicker Joshua Rowland, a junior college transfer from Madison, Mississippi, didn’t help the cause with a 42 yard miss and a blocked 44 yard attempt on the following Texas drive.

But it wasn’t enough, as the Terrapins defense, led by Jermaine Carter Jr. and converted linebacker Shane Cockerille shut down the Longhorns all afternoon.

In addition to the eight tackles for loss, Buechele was sacked five times as the Texas offensive line struggled to protect the sophomore from Arlington, Texas.

This early season unexpected victory sets Maryland up for a big home opener next week against Towson, followed by a bye week and game against UCF to close out non-conference play before opening B1G play as they close out the month of September.

Texas meanwhile, has to regroup quickly as San Jose State comes to Austin next weekend before the Longhorns make their long anticipated return to Los Angeles as they take on the USC Trojans in a rematch of the 2006 BCS Championship game before they begin Big 12 play on the road in Ames against Iowa State.

In defense of Jon Daniels

Following the devastation across Southeast Texas caused by Hurricane Harvey, Rangers GM Jon Daniels was asked by Major League Baseball officials if he would be willing to relocate this week’s series against the Houston Astros to Arlington in exchange for the September series between the two clubs shifting to Houston.

He refused.

Since then, Daniels has taken fire, including from one fan who responded on Twitter, “Go to hell, JD!”

In defense of Jon Daniels, he did the right thing as a general manager of a Major League Baseball team fighting for its playoff life, and at the end of the day, baseball is a cruel business where players can be traded for less than a cup of coffee.

Literally.

Three weeks ago, reliever Ernesto Frieri was sold by Daniels to the Seattle Mariners…for a dollar.

Cost of an ” XL Stay-Hot” cup of coffee from 7-Eleven: $1.79.

After two straight AL West crowns, the Rangers are suffering through a miserable season marred by terrible pitching and injuries.

And yet somehow, even with Opening Day starter Yu Darvish being traded to the Dodgers, the Rangers sit only three games behind the Minnesota Twins  who currently occupy the second wild card spot.

So while they are within striking distance of the playoffs for a third straight year, there is little room for error in the month-plus remaining this season.

Which brings me to why Daniels made the right call from a strictly baseball perspective.

By shifting this series to St. Petersburg and Tropicana Field – home of the Tampa Bay Rays – Daniels and the Rangers no longer have to play at Minute Maid Park during the regular season, where they are a paltry 3-4.

Tuesday night’s game was evidence of just how good a decision Daniels made. The Rangers anhiliated the Astros 12-2 in front of just over 3,000 fans, taking away the home field advantage the Astros would have enjoyed this week in front of 30,000 plus fans in Houston.

Daniels, 40, has led Texas since October 2005 when he took over for John Hart, who stepped down as GM after four seasons, and has restored a winning tradition that Hart never could.

Since the 2006 season, the Rangers have won back to back AL Penants (2010-11), back to back AL West titles (2015-16) and made the playoffs five times.

So while it might seem cruel and heartless to baseball fans, and Astros fans in particular, as the great Al Davis said, “Just win baby!”

And that’s exactly why Jon Daniels wouldn’t move the games.

Wins.

 

Why I let go of anthem protests, and you should too

I used to be like you.

“How dare these athletes making millions of dollars sit down, lock arms or kneel during the playing of our national anthem?”

Then it became abundantly clear.

There is too little time on Earth for you or me to care if Marshawn Lynch or Colin Kaepernick have a hand over their heart or not during the national anthem.

“But Matt that’s an affront to the soldiers who gave their lives at Normandy and Iwo Jima to defend this country.”

No, your whining about someone exercising their fundamental freedom of expression is the affront.

I think at Normandy and Iwo Jima, the troops had more on their minds than what a football player who wasn’t even born until forty years after the end of the Second World War would do in 2016.

You know, like trying to survive being shot at by the Germans and Japanese respectively.

In a league where players are doping, sometimes more than once (Darren Waller), or running into trouble with the law (Rolando McClain), are Colin Kaepernick or Marshawn Lynch’s anthem protests the biggest problem facing the NFL?

Now do I agree with their actions? Absolutely not.

In fact, I think it’s completely ridiculous.

Not standing for the national anthem makes you look stupid and alienates prospective allies from your cause.

Growing up in Baltimore I was raised on the story of Francis Scott Key and The Star Spangled Banner.

I saw Michael Phelps win eight gold medals at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, and sing along with a tear in his eye, and a hand over his heart, as the “Oh say does that Star Spangled Banner yet wave” portion of the anthem played in the background.

Three years ago next month, we commemorated the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Baltimore and the writing of The Star Spangled Banner.

So yea the anthem means a great deal to me.

But so does the U.S. Constitution, which means no matter how stupid something you say is, you have every right to say it.

And at the end of the day, professional sports is not about social justice.

It’s about winning.

Why else do you think the Raiders signed Lynch, irregardless of his anthem protests while with the Seattle Seahawks.

In the case of Colin Kaepernick, he’s not the electrifying quarterback he once was, but he’s much better than the quarterbacks in Jacksonville – Chad Henne and Blake Bortles, who proved tonight, neither is capable of starting in the NFL.

During his post game presser, Jacksonville coach Doug Marrone made it clear he wasn’t happy with either quarterback’s performance against Tampa Bay.

So cheer up Colin, maybe it will get so bad over the remaining preseason games that Jaguars GM Tom Coughlin will ignore your anthem protests and give you a call.

After all, if I was Coach , and my hide was on the line, I’d rather coach a quarterback who can complete a 15 yard pass to a wide open receiver; something Bortles failed to do on more than one occasion tonight.

 

 

All quiet on the offensive front: Washington falls at Baltimore 23-3

Turn on the fourth quarter of any preseason game in any bar across America, and usually a broadcaster’s call is met with one word.

“Who?”

Seriously, before tonight when he went 4/4 with a touchdown, outside of Liberty Football fans, had you heard of Josh Woodrum before?

In all honesty, preseason should be taken with a grain of salt.

There are 90 active players on each NFL roster right now, and before the regular season kicks off a month from now, every team must cut 41% of their players.

That being said, the fact neither Kirk Cousins or Colt McCoy could move the offense will lead Jay Gruden and Matt Cavanaugh to tinker with the offense before the team takes the field ten days from now against Green Bay.

In sixty minutes of football, the Redskins managed EIGHT, count ’em, EIGHT, first downs.

Two weeks ago talk of the Ravens potentially signing Colin Kaepernick took off after Ryan Mallett threw at least five interceptions in practice against the Ravens defense.

While not spectacular, Mallett did not turn the ball over tonight.

The Redskins on the other hand, fumbled the ball four times (recovering each time) in the first half alone.

Justin Tucker looked himself, save for a miss off the right crossbar that dinged so loud the stadium fell silent. However, Tucker’s miss was negated by an illegal formation penalty on the Redskins, and he made up for the missed attempt at the end of the second half with a 59 yard field goal to close out the quarter.

Rookie tailback Taquan Mizzell ran all over the Redskins defense in the second half for 51 yards on 15 on attempts.

Again, this is all preseason, and Mizzell likely won’t break camp with the team in September.

But for the players fighting for jobs in Washington, dropped passes, negative runs, fumbles and missed tackles could leave them out of a job come September as well.

Gameday Preview: Redskins at Ravens

After a seven-month vacation, the NFL returns to the DMV tonight with the annual “Battle of the Beltways” preseason matchup between the Washington Redskins and Baltimore Ravens.

It has been a long offseason for both clubs that came into last season with high hopes, but failed to make the playoffs.

Baltimore’s Spring and Summer were marred by injuries and suspensions. Tight end Dennis Pitta dislocated his hip for the third time during minicamp in June and was released shortly after.

Meanwhile, quarterback Joe Flacco has dealt with a nagging shoulder injury that’s kept him out of practice since the beginning of Training Camp, leaving Ryan Mallett to start the preseason opener tonight.

Tight end Darren Waller, expected to help fill the void left by Pitta’s injury was suspended for the entire 2017 season for PED use, joining running back Kenneth Dixon, who was suspended for the first quarter of the season.

Meanwhile the Redskins come into this season with a great deal of uncertainty. After missing the playoffs by imploding against the Giants during a Week 17 matchup to close the regular season, Washington is asking itself, “who are we?”

The team has consecutive winning seasons for the first time in a decade, and coach Jay Gruden remains in good standing with team owner Dan Snyder, something no other coach, save for Joe Gibbs, could claim during their tenure with the team.

But questions remain.

Gone are offensive coordinator Sean McVay, the architect of the greatest Redskins offense in a generation, who took over as head coach of the Los Angeles Rams, and defensive coordinator Joe Barry was fired after running the defense into the ground.

Replacing McVay and Barry are Matt Cavanaugh, who led the Ravens offense during their Super Bowl XXXV winning season, while former Chargers and 49ers defensive coordinator Greg Manusky takes over Barry’s old position.

The Redskins also lost their top two receivers, DeSean Jacon and Pierre Garcon to free agency, banking heavily on last year’s first rounder, Josh Doctson, and former Browns receiver Terrelle Pryor Sr. to replace them.

The defense retooled with first round defensive lineman, Jonathan Allen and free agent safety, D.J. Swearinger.

Baltimore signed safety Tony Jefferson, running back Danny Woodhead and receiver Jeremy Maclin to try and fix crucial weak spots on last year’s team. With Steve Smith Sr. retiring, the Ravens had no true number one receiver until they signed Maclin; failing to address the need during May’s NFL Draft.

With no standout running back (Buck Allen and Terrance West join Woodhead and Dixon in Baltimore’s backfield), the Ravens are hoping the former Patriots and Chargers tailback can invigorate their running game and take some of the pressure off Flacco.

Tonight’s preseason opener will give the Redskins and Ravens a chance to gauge how well their teams click. But with the starters on both sides expecting to see limited action, the emphasis remains on finding those unsung players who can contribute on special teams and make the squad, or stand out enough to make another squad after final cuts are announced in September.

Last Matchup: Washington defeated the Ravens last October, 16-10 in Baltimore leaving the all-time series tied at 3-3.

Next Up: Washington heads home to take on the Green Bay Packers at FedEx Field on August 19th at 7:30 p.m. Baltimore travels to Hard Rock Stadium in Miami to take on the Dolphins at 7:00 p.m. on August 17th.