Maryland pours it on WVU
BALTIMORE--Standing just outside the back edge of the south end zone at Byrd Stadium on a hot, humid August day in College Park, Randy Edsall couldn't figure out why his kicking game had been so inconsistent in these early days of training camp.
Talking to a group of reporters gathered around him, he started working through his problem aloud.
"Down there in the red, and tight red when we had the opportunities for field goals, the extra points were good, but then when we went out there, it’s just a matter of getting them to come out here and all of a sudden there’s wind, a little sunny out, might be a young lady in a bikini over there or something," he said jokingly, with a tinge of genuine bewilderment. "They get distracted too easily."
Edsall was referring, in part, to sophomore kicker Brad Craddock, who prior to the season was remembered mostly for knocking a 32-yard, game-winning field goal off the left upright last fall in a last-second loss to N.C. State.
Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, though, you wouldn't have recognized the kicker who lined up for the Terrapins, were you only to have seen film of last year's big miss or heard Edsall's preseason dilemma.
Craddock was 3-for-3 on field goals Saturday, starting off the festivities with a 50-yard bomb in the heavy rain and following that with conversions from 36 yards and 30 yards in a dominating 37-0 Maryland victory over West Virginia.
"It's feeling good at the moment," Craddock, a native of Australia, said after the game. "I've been feeling pretty confident all year. It was the same as last week and the same as the week before. It's just doing that same routine and same structure every week, I guess."
Edsall echoed that sentiment.
"I like Brad’s approach to what he’s doing," he said. "There’s a lot more focus, a lot more confidence in what he’s doing. It’s good to see because he works hard.”
Craddock's parents were in attendance at M&T Bank Stadium, braving the rain to see their son have one of the best games of his college career and earn a game ball for his special team efforts.
Craddock says his parents will be in the country for seven to eight more weeks, meaning they'll be able to see more of his games as the Terrapins move into ACC play.
But there's an interesting wrinkle to Craddock's story, one that ties back in to Maryland's trip to Baltimore on Saturday.
Since February, Craddock has been working with former Ravens kicker Matt Stover to improve his technique, poise, and concentration.
Heading to Stover's longtime home at M&T to face West Virginia, Craddock had a resource in his back pocket. He gave Stover a call the night before the game.
"Whatever the flags are doing, it's pretty much the opposite on the field," Craddock recalls Stover telling him from that conversation. "It was very different than any stadium I've kicked in before.
"Talked to him about the wind and everything and how the stadium went. He's helped me a lot. I'm truly blessed to have him around to give me a hand."
And there seem to be results.
Through four games, Craddock has scored 47 points, just six shy of his total from last season. He is 28 percentage points more accurate and 10-of-11 overall. His only miss came on a long 50-yard try in a win over Connecticut.
He and the Terrapins have a bye week before they travel to Tallahassee to take on Florida State and open ACC play.