HELLER: Maryland shows flash in win over Miami

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If Randy Edsall’s first Maryland football team is looking for an early-season slogan, how about this: Hurry up and get dressed.

Tough guy Edsall unveiled his Terrapins before 52,875 eyewitnesses and a national TV audience Monday night, and the first returns were eminently favorable: Maryland 32, Miami 24 in a tense, tight tussle.

Against a Miami outfit with eight starters under NCAA suspension, the Terps showed true grit by rallying repeatedly after squandering four leads. Their second game, against West Virginia on Sept. 17, should provide further indication of what to expect this fall.

Two things, however, are readily apparent. The Terps will run their offense faster than a speeding bullet, as the announcer for the old “Superman” shows used to say, and their uniforms will be equally flashy.

Apparently believing that clothes make the men, Edsall has ordered up more uniform color combinations than there were in Joseph’s Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. For opening night, the Terps arrived in spiffy all-white suits with what looked like Maryland state flags pasted on their helmets and sewed on their shoulders. But I’m no fashion writer, so let’s turn the description over the good folks at Underarmor, all of whom presumably got huge raises after Edsall placed his order.

“This is more than just a uniform,” the athletic supply company’s PR people insist. “It’s built with years of Maryland pride and football heritage woven into its design to make the Terps faster, lighter and ready for battle.”

And that’s not all. The jersey  is “tight where it needs to be tight with no drag, no grab and more flexibility.” The pants boast “muscle-boosting, core-stabilizing technology.” The gloves are “scientifically proven to have twice the grip.” (Surprisingly, there is no mention of the athletic supporter.)

Heck, why even bother to put players into all this marvelous equipment. You know what they say, to err is human.

Nonetheless, you do need bodies to run a hurry-up offense or, for that matter, any other. Superduper sophomore quarterback Danny O’Brien got the Terps up to the line of scrimmage so quickly that ESPN’s instant replays needed to be instanter. The most useless guy in the stadium was Matt Millen, the former and much maligned GM of the Detroit Lions who handled analysis for the cable network.

Millen seemed to have only two options in the booth because of Maryland’s lickety-split M.O. He could make like Gary Cooper, restricting his comments between plays to “yup” or “nope.” Or he could delve deeper and have the TV technogeeks speed up his comments until he sounded like Daffy Duck.

It looked early on as though the Terps might blow the hurtin’ Hurricanes clear back to Coral Gables, where many previous Miami teams learned how to intimidate as well as beat opponents without, in many cases, distracting themselves with serious academic pursuits. But Miami showed some heart of its own all evening by refusing to stay down. When Jake Wieclaw booted a 30-yard field goal with four minutes left, the visitors had their fourth lead of the evening at 24-23.

Yet this was a night when the Terps would not be denied. Soon thereafter, O’Brien flung the ball to wide receiver Kevin Dorsey for 52 of his 348 net yards passing, setting up a game-winning 32-yard field goal by Nick Ferrara. When Miami’s last offensive play resulted in a 54-yard touchdown interception return by Cameron Chism, Maryland finally was safe at home.

Rain was pouring down at this point, but for the Terps and their fans the outlook was at least figuratively sunny. Randy Edsall’s tenure as chief of pigskin matters in College Park got off on the right foot, arms and legs. All clad in nattily in Underarmor, of course, and hopefully rushing toward significant success.

• For more of the author’s columns, go to dickheller.wordpress.com.

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