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Maryland football: Looking at Caleb Rowe's 60-yard pass to Jacquille Veii against Ohio State

Maryland's passing offense had a hard time making explosive plays in the team's loss to Ohio State last weekend. Here, we take a look at the Terps' biggest offensive play of the afternoon.

Ohio State's Cam Burrows tries to corral Jacquille Veii on a 60-yard pass play for Maryland on Oct. 4.
Ohio State's Cam Burrows tries to corral Jacquille Veii on a 60-yard pass play for Maryland on Oct. 4.
Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland had a hard time throwing the ball effectively against Ohio State. C.J. Brown's struggles were obvious and led to his benching in favor of backup Caleb Rowe in the second half. When Rowe came in, the offense moved more efficiently but didn't exactly light up the scoreboard - to the tune of 14 points and three interceptions.

With plenty of time to go before the Terps host Iowa in their homecoming game on Oct. 18, let's look a little bit deeper into Maryland's biggest offensive splash of the Ohio State game: a 60-yard pass play from Rowe to running back and receiver Jacquille Veii in the second half.

Time: 13:48 remaining, fourth quarter.

Score: Ohio State 45, Maryland 17.

Down and distance: Terrapins faced third-and-10.

Field position: Ball at the Maryland 36-yard line.

The play:

Burrows catches up to Veii to make a tackle inside Ohio State's five-yard line. You can watch more of the play and its aftermath just after the two-hour, 52-minute mark of the ESPN game footage.

The breakdown:

Maryland uses a four-receiver set (two flanking either side of the offensive line) and one running back as a sidecar out of the shotgun. Thanks to some suspect camerawork, we can only see three of the receivers initially. But let's give this a shot anyway, shall we?

Pre-play Veii

Brandon Ross is in the backfield. Marcus Leak and Stefon Diggs line up to Rowe's right, while Veii lines up to his left. There's another receiver to Rowe's left (we think it's Juwann Winfree, but ESPN doesn't give us a great look). Veii is lined up in the slot, opposite Ohio State safety Cam Burrows. A number of Ohio State's defenders, but not all of them, are backups.

The Buckeyes only use two down linemen on this play, both of them defensive ends (including No. 97, Joey Bosa, who had nearly sacked Rowe a play earlier). Still, Ohio State puts seven defenders not only in the box, but right at the line of scrimmage and behaving like blitzers on third-down. This makes sense, given the long-distance situation Rowe has found himself in.

When Rowe takes the snap from center Sal Conaboy, only four men actually start to rush the pass. Ohio State does this a lot in general because of the ability of its defensive linemen and some vulnerability in the secondary. But as Rowe drops back, the inside linebacker on the play, No. 35 Chris Worley, drops into coverage to take away the short pass over the middle. With just the three eventual blitzers, Ohio State has eight men in coverage. That approach makes sense here and takes away the crossing pattern to the receiver we believe to be Winfree.

after snap veii

In that shot, Veii is shielded from view. He's behind Burrows, the Ohio State safety standing at the top right corner of the picture, at the Maryland 45-yard line. Veii's cutting toward the sideline.

Unfortunately for Ohio State, the combination of Maryland's spread set of wide receivers and its own insistence on taking away the middle of the field has consequences.

With Diggs and Leak still occupying space toward the Maryland sideline (bottom of your screen) the safety, Burrows, inches toward the center of the field. Burrows (the defender closest to Veii, at left below) also looks to be cheating toward Winfree, who's still crossing the field as a shorter option for Rowe. This leaves Veii, zigging toward the far sideline, wide open.

open veii

We again have limitations here because of camera angles and video quality, but to sum up: Veii ran a relatively simple sideline pattern from the left slot. Because Ohio State was focused on the middle of the field and had to devote one of its safeties to the side of the field where Diggs and Leak lined up, Veii's only opposition after a quick bump near the line was a (backup) safety who was was accounting for other receivers.

Credit to Veii for finding and staying in an open patch of grass, and credit to Rowe for taking what the defense gave him on an otherwise frustrating afternoon for the Terps.

(Note: As Todd points out in the comments, Rowe was twice identified as Brown above. The quarterback here is Rowe.)