Here are some thoughts on the first half from M&T Bank Stadium:
Even though Navy could have been tied and go into the half trailing 14-7, the Midshipmen are fortunate to be in the game at all.
Consider this: after quickly falling behind by two touchdowns -- and having a 31-yard field goal attempt bang off the left upright -- Navy's Andre Byrd fumbled deep in Maryland territory. But Terps linebacker Demetrius Hartsfield disobeyed the cardinal rule and tried to pick up the ball. Instead he batted it out of bounds, giving another chance to Navy and Byrd, who scored on the next play.
And consider this: after starting with good field position following another short kickoff (more on that strategy in a moment), Maryland kept moving the ball on the ground, with Jamarr Robinson's 27-yard romp taking the ball to the Navy 38. On second-and-8 after a 2-yard run by Da'Rel Scott, Robinson attempted his first pass. Under pressure from linebacker Tyler Simmons, Robinson forced a throw into coverage in the middle of the field and was intercepted by Emmett Merchant.
Only some questionable decision-making by Ricky Dobbs kept Maryland with a one-touchdown lead.
Dobbs' fumble at the goal line on Navy's next possession was a great play by Adrian Moten, but Dobbs made a costly mental blunder right at the end of the half. With the seconds ticking down, Dobbs should have tried a quick pass into the end zone and, if it failed, give his team a chance at a field goal. When he couldn't find any open receivers, he tried to run it in. He was quickly tackled as time ran out. Dobbs got an earful from Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo as they walked off the field.
There was also the thought that Maryland was lucky to be in the lead and if Navy -- specifically Dobbs -- can clean up some of the sloppiness, the Midshipmen will prevail. I am starting to see that Niumatalolo's comments last week that the Terps are bigger, stronger and faster than Navy and if Maryland keeps the ball on the ground -- as it should have done when Robinson was picked off -- the Midshipmen seem to be having a difficult time containing Robinson, Scott and Davin Meggett.
I also think that Navy, which will receive the second half kickoff, has to rethink its strategy of kicking the ball short and away from Torrey Smith. The only time Navy stopped Maryland's offense on the ground was after Dobbs' fumble. Maryland started at its 41 and 44 after the two kickoffs. Maybe that's Niumatalolo's way of saying that he doesn't think his kickoff unit can contain Smith -- one of the nation's best returners -- but it also puts his defense back on its heels right away.
The second half is about to begin and I'll turn over the third quarter blog to Jeff Barker.