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Why Maryland football was forced to change quarterbacks after just 2 games

Another poor passing performance for the Terps leads to a blowout loss. That and other notes from charting Maryland's humiliating defeat.

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back to the Maryland post-game report, where we're all turtles on our backs, kicking our feet in the air.

Maryland was very bad on Saturday, in large part due to its unwillingness to run the ball against a team that couldn't run the ball. Instead, the Terps chose to throw the ball 30 times with Perry Hills. Caleb Rowe will start at quarterback against South Florida, as Hills's poor performances in his two starts sent him tumbling off the two-deep.

We've already talked at length about Maryland's bad gameplan against the Falcons. Let's take a closer look at those passes!

Hills threw two balls away, so those aren't included (that's why he's listed at 15/28 instead of 15/30).

Perry Hills Left Middle Right All
15+ yards 0/2 2/3, 64 yards, 2 TDs 0/1 2/6, 64 yards, 2 TDs
10-14 yards 1/2, 14 yards 1/1, 12 yards 0/0 2/3, 26 yards
5-9 yards 1/4, 24 yards 0/0 4/5, 45 yards 5/9, 69 yards
0-4 yards 1/2, 7 yards 0/0 1/2, 1 yard 2/4, 8 yards
Less than 0 yards 1/1, -7 yards 2/3, 5 yards 1/2, 3 yards 4/6, 1 yard
All 4/11, 38 yards 5/7, 81 yards, 2 TDs 6/10, 49 yards 15/28, 168 yards

Once again, Hills had by far the most success over the middle, and once again it was the place Maryland threw to least frequently. For a little more context, let's look at success rate for each direction an interval. Here's a great video primer, but to sum up: a play is successful if it gains 50% of necessary yardage on first down, 70% on second or 100% on third or fourth. The national average is around 40%.

Hills's success rate throwing to the left was 27.3%, to the right was 30% and over the middle was 42.9%. On passes behind the line of scrimmage, Hills had a 0% success rate, and 25% for passes that travelled 0-4 yards. His success rate was notably higher on throws farther away from the line of scrimmage: 44.4% on throws 5-9 yards, 66.7% on 10-14 and 33.3% on throws of 15+ yards.

How about the incompletions? Well, underthrows reared their ugly head again, but this time there was a new culprit: drops.

Caleb Rowe threw two interceptions late against Bowling Green, but with him at quarterback (and D.J. Moore in the starting lineup now), Maryland's vertical game should at least be more present.

Malcolm Culmer was the team leader with two drops, but Amba Etta-Tawo, Avery Edwards and Derrick Hayward each dropped one as well. Here's the full target distribution for while Hills was playing quarterback.

Receiver Targets Catches Yards Catch rate YAC Yards per catch Yards per target
Amba Etta-Tawo 6 5 49 83.3% 13 9.8 8.2
Levern Jacobs 6 3 32 50.0% 4 10.7 5.3
Malcolm Culmer 5 3 9 60.0% 3 3.0 1.8
Avery Edwards 4 1 8 25.0% 8 8.0 2.0
D.J. Moore 3 1 42 33.3% 27 42.0 14.0
Wes Brown 2 2 28 100.0% 19 14.0 14.0
Derrick Hayward 1 0 0 0.0% 0 0.0 0.0
Brandon Ross 1 0 0 0.0% 0 0.0 0.0

The true freshman Moore was among the top two in yards per target last week, as well. Maryland had trouble consistently getting the ball to Levern Jacobs and Moore this week, who have been the team's two most explosive playmakers so far. Another big-play threat, Taivon Jacobs, wasn't targeted once, but he'll be starting against South Florida as well. Culmer had a particularly bad day (and is no longer starting), as did Edwards.

Alright, enough about the bad stuff. Let's break down one good play, Hills's touchdown pass to Moore, who is really turning into a neat weapon and could be utilized in exciting ways with a more vertical passing attack.

The play is set up with trips left, Moore on the right. The trips receivers will run one deep route combined with two out routes, stacking that side of the field so Moore can run a slant over the middle in man coverage

It works! This is how it looks when Hills is about to throw:

And here's how it looks when he releases:

Moore does not have to break stride, as it's a perfect throw by Hills. Moore catches it here: already a first down, with the opportunity for your playmaker to make a play.

One simple move, and the Bowling Green defenders crash into each other...

...leaving Moore free for the end zone.

Touchdown, Maryland.

Other notes:

  • WILL LIKELY RECORD WATCH: the NCAA single-season punt return record is 791 yards, and Likely is now at 315 through two games. That puts him on pace to break the record in Week 5, rather than Week 3.
  • Jermaine Carter Jr. and Sean Davis had active tackling games, but for Davis it was mostly because Bowling Green was able to complete so many passes to Roger Lewis. A.J. Hendy had another bad week, missing multiple tackles, and the secondary continues to be a question mark beyond Likely.
  • Of the nine passes thrown towards Will Likely's man, just two were completed. He broke up five passes this week by our count (one more than last week) and provided tight enough coverage on two others to force incompletions. No one else on the team had more than one pass defense (but Jalen Brooks did pick off a pass).