CHARLOTTESVILLE —- Just got done filing my final dead-tree story.
So let’s get to the wreckage of Maryland‘s 31-0 loss.
Stat No. 1 —- beyond the first shutout since 2004 at Virginia, beyond the largest margin of defeat since a 55-6 loss at Virginia Tech —- is that Darrius Heyward-Bey touched the ball only once for the second straight game.
This is not a bandwagon I hop onto without some thought. So long as he was getting targeted a fair amount —- around, say, 20 percent of the time in the passing game —- the whole “he isn’t getting the ball enough” argument seemed a little short-sighted.
But Maryland threw to Heyward-Bey twice —- and one of those was on the first play of the game and the pass was batted down at the line.
Maryland did not attempt to get it to Hey-Bey after the 12:19 mark of the first quarter.
“He’s gotta get open,” coach Ralph Friedgen said. “There were a lot of passes called for him. You gotta get the protection, you gotta throw the ball. It’s just not that easy. They did a few things tonight.”
That’s swell. And certainly, there’s something to be said of Heyward-Bey not exploiting his opportunities this season. When a receiver catches only 12 of 29 balls thrown his way, that isn’t good. Actually, it’s downright Chambers-like.
(Fantasy football owners who have owned the target black hole known as Chris Chambers can fully appreciate how a guy can turn a 10-target day into a three-catch, 37-yard outing. But Heyward-Bey hasn’t even caught a pass the last two weeks).
Quarterback Chris Turner said he didn’t get to Heyward-Bey on many of his progressions, that the junior was a much later option. That’s fine, especially with Maryland’s offensive line bumbling along again tonight.
But there comes a point that if Heyward-Bey is your best offensive weapon —- and at this point, who knows if that’s the case —- you just find a way to make sure he is specifically targeted once on each possession, even if it is a screen pass or an end around.
But a total of six targets on 64 passes over the last two weeks? That just simply isn’t enough, especially with such a schizophrenic team in need of any sort of anchor it can find.
—- Patrick Stevens