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Maryland is throwing interceptions at a historically high rate

Any Terrapin turnaround starts with cutting back on interceptions.

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Through its first five games of 2015, Maryland quarterbacks have thrown 15 interceptions. That three-interception per-game average puts Maryland on pace to set the collegiate football record for the most ever in one season.

Maryland's three interceptions thrown per game so far are nearly twice the average of the next-worst power-conference team (Virginia at 1.6) and one interception per game worse than the next biggish program on the list (Cincinnati, at two).

The Terps need to fix a lot of things to get back on track in this season's final seven games, but it is hard to find any solution that doesn't include Maryland cutting way back on interceptions – as in, by at least two-thirds.

"We just have been horrible and horrendous at taking care of the football, especially on offense," said coordinator Mike Locksley. "It starts with the quarterbacks, and it starts with me."

Maryland's turnover woes – a minus-9 margin, tied for second-worst in FBS – stem entirely from interceptions. The Terps have only lost two fumbles, placing them among the better teams in the country.

But their interceptions have been killers. According to the archives at Sports-Reference, no team in college football's modern era has even approached three interceptions thrown per game. It's likelier than not that Maryland's rate will go down, but a problem persists: The Terps are now five games into a 12-game season, and three of their games so far have come against pedestrian or worse defenses: Richmond, Bowling Green and South Florida. Ohio State, Penn State, Iowa, Wisconsin and Michigan State – top defenses, all of them – are still on the schedule.

According to per-game averages (the best metric because Maryland's season is still ongoing, and to account for schedule length changes), the Terps are paced to throw more interceptions than any team I could find, going back through 40 years of SR's data. Only time limited me from going back farther.

Maryland's road only gets muddier:

Date Opponent Opp. S&P+ Rk Win
Proj. Wins
10-Oct at Ohio State 25 12% L -20.0 14.6 - 34.6 2.12
24-Oct vs. Penn State 20 16% L -17.5 14.9 - 32.4 2.28
31-Oct at Iowa 23 12% L -20.6 14.5 - 35.1 2.40
7-Nov Wisconsin 16 19% L -15.3 15.8 - 31.1 2.59
14-Nov at Michigan State 34 14% L -18.3 17.5 - 35.8 2.73
21-Nov Indiana 55 39% L -4.7 27.5 - 32.1 3.12
28-Nov at Rutgers 110 63% W 5.7 30.5 - 24.7 3.75

Locksley, who is also the quarterbacks coach, said Maryland's quarterback play has been "horrendous across the board" and took blame for it.

"Obviously, very frustrating," Locksley said. "This falls on my shoulders in terms of preparing the offense to go out and execute. My job as a coach is to continue to find a way to coach a guy that's going to go out there to execute the things that we put in the game plan."

Twelve of Maryland's 15 interceptions have come from the right hand of recent stater Caleb Rowe, while two have come from previous starter Perry Hills and another from backup Daxx Garman. It isn't yet clear who will start against Ohio State on Saturday – with the three players listed as co-starters – but if any turnaround is coming, it starts with lessening the interceptions pace, and steeply.