Last week, we documented how the Maryland football had not turned the ball over in its first two games of the 2016 season after leading FBS teams in interceptions in 2015.
Well, after the Terps’ 30-24 double-overtime win over UCF, they now are through three weeks of football without even one single turnover. This is rare enough that only two other FBS schools are in Maryland’s company this season: Western Michigan and Army. And Army almost never passes, having only thrown the ball 19 times in three games.
Sure, no one will confuse Howard or FIU’s defenses with Alabama’s, but Maryland had EIGHT interceptions after playing two group of five teams and one FCS squad last year. This is some unmistakable progress.
Last week, Offensive Coordinator Walt Bell detailed how this team makes ball security a priority:
“When we won the turnover and explosive play battle, we won 99.89 percent of the time. So if you can just not turn the ball over, you’ve got a great chance to win. That’s half the variables we got to control.”
"It’s the daily emphasis. It’s having a CSI-type investigation in my meeting room with the quarterbacks any time there’s an interception. Really studying the hows, the whys, the ‘what caused this?’"
It’s working. Perry Hills didn’t throw an interception against UCF despite being harassed all night by the Knights’ pass rush. He did only finish 10 for 23 with 127 yards passing, but it’s hard to blame him. He never had much time to process the defense during each drop back before UCF’s defenders engulfed him. To Hills’ credit, he didn’t throw any picks even when faced with all that pressure. While some fans might continue clamoring for Tyrrell Pigrome, this lack of interceptions should help Hills keep his starting spot.
After three games last year, the Terps had only fumbled once. In 2016, they’ve even improved on that. They haven’t lost a fumble yet, though things will obviously get harder in every way once Big Ten play starts.*
*Sorry, after Maryland plays Purdue.
In other news
Stefon Diggs is really good, in case you didn’t know.
Here’s Alex Kirshner on how Maryland looks a whole lot better in 2016, even though the Terps still probably won’t be that great.
SB Nation’s Jason Kirk projects Maryland to play Pitt in the Pinstripe Bowl this season, which is an iron-clad prediction that surely will not change.
Thomas Kendziora on whose stock is up, and whose is down after Maryland’s win.
InsideMdSports’ Jeff Ermann has four takeaways from Maryland’s win.