The Washington Times - September 30, 2007, 11:05AM

\ Fortunately, the best time to drive Jersey Turnpike is on a Sunday morning, and it was smooth sailing for a sub-three hour trip back to the Baltimore ‘burbs. Something tells me the Terps milked that ride home for everything it was worth last night.\

\ The most important thing to be learned last night was whether would pack up the tent after a crushing loss to Wake Forest, and that was figured out in two sequences. The first was the bulk of the first half when the Terps scrapped to a 14-3 lead. The second was the game-tying drive in the third quarter when backup quarterback Chris Turner led the Terps to a field goal.\


\ But there are other things worth mentioning about the victory, and what its fallout could be.\

\ * I remained reasonably impressed with Maryland’s rush defense despite the statistical evidence against it in losses to West Virginia and Wake Forest, and they turned in a superb performance while holding Rutgers to 82 yards on the ground. The defensive line is a vastly improved unit, and it seemed like Carlos Feliciano, Jeremy Navarre and Mack Frost took turns making big stops. And of course the underappreciated Dre Moore did what he normally does, turning in a consistent, above-average day. \

\ * On the flip side, there has to be some concern about the ease with which Rutgers moved the ball in its two-minute offense. The pass defense’s rankings were inflated after playing two cupcakes and two run-reliant opponents, but those scoring drives at the first half should give the Terps reason to pause. Fortunately, QB play is not the ACC’s forte (save Boston College’s Matt Ryan; next in line might be overlooked Duke sophomore Thaddeus Lewis), so it might not be as much of a concern as it could be elsewhere.\

\ * Speaking of QBs, Turner gave coach Ralph Friedgen a lot to think about. Now, I’m no football coach and I didn’t go to football school anywhere (and with that, I finally answer a question Ron Vanderlinden asked me less than a month before he was canned at Maryland). If I did, chances are I’d be making a lot more money. But it was obvious the Terps’ offense worked better with Turner in the game instead of Jordan Steffy. I’m not sure that means Turner is a better player - a half is not exactly the largest sample size - but the sophomore at least kept Rutgers honest.\

\ Turner faced fewer blitzes than Steffy, mainly because he showed he could get rid of the ball quickly and find an open guy. That’s the downside of a blitz, and it’s why I subscribe to the Tuesday Morning Quarterback school of thought on that subject. Steffy faced blitzes for 4 1/2 games before he staggered off the field late in the first half yesterday because his inability to get rid of the ball minimized the risk of a blitz for the defense.\

\ * Erin Henderson, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Scott Burley all left with injuries yesterday, and all wound up back in the game. There probably won’t be a long-term fallout from that situation. I think Burley sat out one series that wasn’t connected with his injury yesterday, but it seemed like it was regular in-game rest and fatigue rather than a flare-up of his elbow injury.\

\ * Da’Rel Scott looked awful good in his first few career carries, taking the ball three times for 29 yards. Also a playmaker who earned himself some more looks: Redshirt freshman LaQuan Williams.\

\ * The Terps gave one away a week ago at Wake Forest, and now they’ve poached it back against an opponent they didn’t seem likely to beat. So it goes. They have some wiggle room again, and would be in fine shape heading into the second half with a victory on Saturday against Georgia Tech. The schedule eases slightly from here on out, with four of the next five at home. But I’m still not sure quite what to make of Maryland, and I wouldn’t be shocked if there’s both another upset (Clemson? Boston College?) and another head-scratcher (at North Carolina? at N.C. State?) in the Terps yet.\

\ — Patrick Stevens