Looking deeper into how Maryland's offense performed against West Virginia

Rob Carr

Maryland's offense struggled to score and sustain drives in their last game against West Virginia. We take a deeper look into the numbers and what it could mean for their upcoming game against Florida State.

When looking at the score of Maryland's win over West Virginia, most would say that the Terps dominated in all facets of the game; offense, defense, and special teams. But if you take a more indepth look at this game, a slightly different story begins to emerge.

Before we get into the offense and defense, let me quickly say that the special teams, sans a fumble by Stefon Digs on a punt return, were great. Craddock was 3/3 on field goals, including a 50 yard field goal that probably would have been good from 60, and made all of his extra points. Punter Nathan Renfro had five punts that averaged 51.2 yards, including a 64 yard bomb. And Will Likely did a good job on kickoffs, returning the only one he fielded 31 yards. They had a great game and a lot of what they did was overshadowed by the dominant performance by the defense. Speaking of the defense...

Maryland's D forced six turnovers in the game, which resulted in 28 points for Maryland. They held the WVU offense to 175 yards, 51 of which came on one play in the last drive of the game. Take out that play and Maryland held the Mountaineers to just 2.7 yards per play. They also forced four three and outs and held West Virginia to just six first downs, again two of which came on that final drive. When you have as many turnovers as you do first downs, you're probably not going to win many football games. The defensive is why Maryland won the game; they not only shut down WVU on offense, but they set up Maryland's offense with short fields and easy scoring situations. They also scored some points on their own. But what about the Terps' offense?

Maryland ran 72 plays on offense, totalling 323 yards, or 4.49 yards per play. It was their lowest yardage output of the season and marked the first time they were held under 500 yards in 2013. By comparison, in their game against UConn, Maryland ran 71 plays for 501 yards or 7.05 yards per play, despite committing three turnovers. That being said, West Virginia was the best defense Maryland has seen all year and half the game was played in a monsoon. Additionally, sophomore Stefon Diggs, one of Maryland's biggest play makers,  appeared to be bothered by an injury and even sat out at least one drive. Those are going to have an impact on the offensive's production, but how much of an impact?

The Terps' offense certainly took advantage of short fields set up by the defense, but really struggle outside of those situations. Here is the breakdown of the offense on drives that did not begin as a result of a turnover by West Virginia:

  • 3 plays, -1 yard, punt (01:08)
  • 3 plays, 11 yards, punt (02:24) (Note: WVU muffed the Maryland punt , Terps recovered, and Maryland scored a TD three players later)
  • 5 plays, 17 yards, punt (02:40)
  • 5 plays, 34 yards, FG (02:57)
  • 8 plays, 62 yards, FG (02:16)
  • 9 plays, 42 yards, FG (04:32)
  • 6 plays, 8 yards, punt (02:48)
  • 4 plays, 21 yards, punt (02:41)
  • 6 plays, -2 yards, fumble (02:26)
  • 5 plays, 8 yards, fumble (01:58)

Maryland technically had one more drive, but it just involved the three kneel downs to end the game, so I didn't bother including that. But as you can see, in drives that originated from kickoffs or punts, Maryland's offense was only able to score nine points on three field goals, punted five times, and turned the ball over twice. In these situations, Maryland ran 54 plays for 200 yards or 3.7 yards per play. More importantly, the Terps only scored nine points in those 54 plays, which translates to 0.16 points per play (ppp). On average, Maryland is running 70.75 plays per game while averaging 39.75 points per game, which translates to 0.56 ppp rate. The 0.56 ppp rate doesn't remove situations in other games where Maryland scored as a result of a turnover, short field, or on defense, but it is still a significant difference that is worth noting.

There are obviously a few additional caveats to these numbers that are also worth discussing. First and foremost, Maryland's most successful drive on offense came on a drive that initiated from a turnover, but that turnover occurred deep in Maryland territory. On that drive, Maryland's last of the game, the offense ran 12 plays for 89 yards, scored a touchdown and chewed up 08:16 of clock. It was by far their best drive of the game and occurred during some crappy weather conditions. Additionally, while they struggled scoring and moving the ball in other situations, Maryland's offense did capitalize on turnovers when they occurred; the offense scored three touchdowns off of WVU turnovers. But Maryland can't count of Florida State turnovers to score points tomorrow in Tallahasee. While Maryland's defense will likely be the best unit FSU has faced thus far this season, the Terps' offense can't count on having short fields to score points. They are going to have to do a better job sustaining drives, making plays, and scoring touchdowns. If the offense can only muster three field goals on drives that don't begin with great field position or as a result of a turnover, it could be a long flight back to College Park.

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