Three weeks ago, as Maryland led then No. 21 Syracuse by four touchdowns at the halftime break, the stunned Fox Sports CFB studio host coughed out a few syllables of praise for the mighty Terps, as most of the rest of his crew sat slack jawed. Most of the crew, but not all. Urban Meyer, foosball coaching genius, seized upon the brief silence and blurted a bold proclamation to his studio mates and national audience: “Maryland’s skill position talent is as good as anyone in the Big Ten.”
Is she right? Perhaps. Anthony McFarland is awesome at running the bootball. The receivers are fleet. The Terps also have some good DBs. At the very least, it’s not an absurd claim, and worthy of a debate. But that debate doesn’t interest Film Room.
The more interesting thing, from Film Room’s perspective, is what Urban Meyer did not say. Like all liars, Meyer told us more by what he didn’t state explicitly. And what Urban Meyer told us, without actually telling us, is that he doesn’t believe Maryland has any linemen on either side of the ball. “They have the skill players to compete (but - woof - their linemen are horrendous).” That’s what Urban actually said. Let’s see if she was right.
Kill The Lights
Football coaches, despite the inflated salaries, are not particularly deep thinkers. They’re simple cave men like you and me, unburdened by metaphysical questions. Ours is a simple world. If you’re thirsty, you drink. If you’re tired, you sleep. If you’re hungry, you kill something and eat it. That’s it, all done. Why-questions, or wondering about the point of existence just never occurs to us.
Similarly, and as proved by the first 150 years of college football, if the point is to put the odd shaped ball in the end zone, then you carry the ball there in a straight line. The simplest way to do that is to club your opponent over the head until he’s either unconscious or dead. Step over your opponent’s corpse, and you have a clear and straight path to that end zone. Wisconsin just did this for three consecutive hours to Michigan last Saturday. The Badgers battered, flogged, and wailed on the Wolverines until they were a lifeless, formless puddle of maize and blue plasma. Then, Bucky walked the ball into the end zone for points. Everyone cheered (and I mean everyone, especially Film Room).
That’s the default setting for football coaches. Thus, whenever you see a coach attempting to do something other than that cave man default, it’s often a strong hint that one or more things are amiss in his simple cave man world.
With that extended lede, we present Maryland’s first offensive snap against the Temple Owls. You’ll immediately note the tackle-over, unbalanced line to the right, and Maryland’s TE attempting to impersonate a LT. Hello, Trickeration. Trickeration can be a tell.
Reminder: these embeds are videos, replete with controls to slow, pause, or advance.
Here’s the end zone view of that same horrendous play above. Maryland tries a tackle-over to the right, then slides it’s protection to the left. That tackle-over down-blocks to his left as instructed by the playcall, and effectively blocks no one, leaving the Owl DE free for diminutive RB Anthony McFarland to pick up. But McFarland gets confused and goes the wrong way. So on first down - first offensive play of the game - with a 7-man (max) protection, facing a vanilla 4-man rush, Maryland manages to leave a DE completely unblocked to tattoo their QB.
Trickeration is not for everyone. Side effects may include missed assignments, sacks allowed, and loss of yards. Ask your doctor if Trickeration is right for you.
Let’s switch to the other side of the ball, where we’re greeted by the Terps’ new 2-4-5 defense. That’s right, friends - two defensive linemen. Technically OLB #5 Shaq Smith has his hand in the dirt at the snap. But really, it’s two DL, not 3.
That point of conjecture notwithstanding, in the gif below, Maryland’s zone coverage allows just enough defenders to remain in the box to slow Temple’s first down run, and claim success.
That’s not the case in the gif below. Maryland presents a man scheme from their 2-4-5 defense. Temple motions its RB out of the backfield, drawing Terp WILB Isaiah Davis (#22) with him (you’ll remember Isaiah getting ejected for laying out Joey Julius a few years back). The Temple QB fakes a draw (of sorts), and shovels the ball to the pulling TE. That TE finds a huge hole up the middle, as Temple’s OL mashes one of Maryland’s two defensive linemen out of the way.
Below is the end zone view of that same play. Number 96 is Brett Kulka, listed at a generous, midnight-milkshake influenced, 258-lbs in your game day program. He begins the snap aligned as a 2i DT, which is a role traditionally reserved for large tree stumps, grizzly bears, or 1948 Studebakers.
That was standard downs run defense. Below is a sideline view of Maryland’s standard downs pass rush.
And here’s the end zone view of that same, 5-man pass rush. Presumably you’ve seen enough from this pass rush to render your verdict.
One last gif for this week. New Terp QB Josh Jackson throws a nice ball. This final gif below is our longest gif. It runs 8 seconds. And it runs 8 seconds, because that’s approximately how long it takes Josh Jackson to sprint the 40 yards from the right hash to the left sideline.
Hit The Lights
Listen closely to liars like Urban Meyer. While you should never trust what they say explicitly, sometimes you can actually find some truth in what they don’t say. And in this instance, Urban Meyer was 100% correct in what he did not say - Maryland has precious few linemen.