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Maryland football’s offense was abysmal for the 3rd time in 3 losses this season

The Terps gained a season-low 115 yards. Ouch.

NCAA Football: Maryland at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland football left Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday with as many points as it had when it left College Park. The Terps were shut out by the No. 19 Hawkeyes in a 23-0 loss.

A full afternoon passed without anything going Maryland’s way on offense. The Terps hardly ever had the ball, and when they did, they could rarely move it, and when they did move it, there was a good chance a penalty would bring it back.

Let’s just say that’s not a winning formula.

We’ve seen Maryland’s offense go dormant in all three of its losses.

The Terps gained just 115 yards of offense all afternoon, and were in double-digits until the final minute of the game. Maryland didn’t put together a drive of more than 28 yards all day, finishing with seven first downs, six punts and two turnovers. This was a well-deserved goose egg on the scoreboard.

You might remember the Michigan game from two weeks ago. The Wolverines controlled the ball for 21:23 in the first half that afternoon and outgained Maryland 291-42. That was a 17-7 game at halftime, with Ty Johnson’s 98-yard kickoff return touchdown as the lone Terps highlight. Maryland’s offense improved in garbage time, but the team still lost 42-21.

And the Temple game was perhaps the most egregious performance. Maryland’s offense didn’t score a point that afternoon either; a pick-six and blocked punt made the game look much closer than it really was. The Terps had 63 yards of offense in the first three quarters, and when Maryland finally put together a couple drives, they ended in interceptions. (Maryland’s only thrown four picks all year, but it feels like a lot more, probably because two have been returned for touchdowns.)

In the Terps’ wins, they’ve gained 407, 565, 432 and 375 yards. In their losses, they’ve been held to 195, 220 and now 115. This offense doesn’t seem to have a middle gear; it’s either good or atrocious.

Once again, the opponent absolutely dominated possession.

Iowa had four first-half drives. They went like this:

  • 8 plays, 46 yards, 4:36, interception
  • 17 plays, 72 yards, 9:04, field goal
  • 11 plays, 40 yards, 5:00, field goal
  • 10 plays, 58 yards, 4:09, touchdown

Combine this with the Hawkeyes receiving the ball first, and that’s how they ran 44 offensive plays to Maryland’s 16 in the first half. The Terps really only had three possessions in the half and picked up a total of three first downs. They held the ball for 7:11; Iowa had it for 22:49.

Things didn’t get much better in the second half. Maryland ran 23 plays to Iowa’s 35; the Hawkeyes started the third quarter with another long field goal drive, but it was mostly punts and that one really really ugly Maryland fumble from there. When the clock hit zero, Iowa had controlled the ball for 40:55 to the Terps’ 19:05.

Michigan held the ball for 21:23 in the first half and 35:39 in the game against Maryland two weeks ago. Temple controlled possession for 36:33 in its win over the Terps. The Owls ran 80 plays to Maryland’s 52, while the Wolverines outsnapped Maryland 68-50. Iowa one-upped both of those teams, posting a 76-39 play disparity.

Maryland’s defense, given no favors, deserves credit for keeping all of these games somewhat within reach. On Saturday, though, the Terps had chances to get off the field and couldn’t capitalize. Iowa converted short and long third downs alike, and also went 3-of-4 on fourth downs. The Hawkeyes only punted twice (and both were great punts, because of course). Maryland has been good at keeping opponents to field goals instead of touchdowns, but that doesn’t matter if the offense doesn’t come close to keeping up.

It’s reasonable to wonder if this can be changed.

Kasim Hill and Tyrrell Pigrome have both had their moments, but the numbers are unflattering. Hill, who’s taking the majority of snaps, has completed just 51.7 percent of his passes this season, and he’s thrown for just 701 yards despite starting all seven games. His 47 yards Saturday were a season low, but he’s been held under 100 passing yards four times now, including in three straight games. Pigrome went 0-for-1 Saturday, with his lone pass dropped by Jahrvis Davenport. He’s 7-of-15 this year with no touchdowns and a pick, but does have 156 rushing yards on 28 attempts (that’s with sacks counting against him).

It’s unclear what would prompt Matt Canada to make a change under center, and it’s not like the offense has been noticeably better with one quarterback over the other. But Saturday’s contest showed once again that good defenses can absolutely shut down Maryland. And that will need to change, because more daunting opponents are lurking on the schedule.