Nov 30, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets quarterback Vad Lee (2) runs the ball in the first half against the Georgia Bulldogs at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports
With Maryland set to face former Georgia Tech quarterback Vad Lee on Saturday, it’s worth taking a trip down memory lane.
Just how did the Terps fare against dual-threat quarterbacks during the 2013 seasons?
Despite not facing Lee last season, Maryland has had plenty of practice with these elusive signal callers as they faced seven of them during the 2013 campaign. In those contests, the Terps only allowed 198 yards on 68 carries, which was only an average of 2.9 yards-per-carry. The top rusher was Syracuse quarterback Terrel Hunt, who gashed the Terps for 67 yards on only seven carries.
Here’s a breakdown of how each dual-threat quarterback fared against the Terps on the ground:
Taylor Heinicke (Old Dominion) – 14 carries for 51 yards (3.64 yards-per-carry)
Jameis Winston (Florida State) – 7 carries for 24 yards (3.43 yards-per-carry)
David Watford (Virginia) – 7 carries for 34 yards (4.86 yards-per-carry)
Tahj Boyd (Clemson) – 13 carries for 24 yards and a touchdown (1.85 yards-per-carry)
Terrel Hunt (Syracuse) – 7 carries for 67 yards (9.57 yards-per-carry)
Logan Thomas (Virginia Tech) – 13 carries for -17 yards (-1.31 yards-per-carry)
Rakeem Cato (Marshall) – 7 carries for 15 yards (2.14 yards-per-carry)
Obviously, a great deal of these quarterbacks also have a tremendous arm, so they aren’t afraid to chuck the ball downfield. However, it does show that the Terps were able to make them think twice about tucking it down and running.
Much of Maryland’s successful containment is due to a very strong front seven that is able to dominate the line of scrimmage. The Terps have speed off the edge in Andre Monroe, Keith Bowers, and Quinton Jefferson and a pure run stuffer in nose tackle Darius Kilgo. Kilgo is likely going to hear his name called in the 2015 NFL Draft if he has a strong season.
Defensive philosophy is very key for a team like Maryland. They’re obviously not known as a team with a strong defensive identity, but this is a unit that continues to improve year to year.
Defensive coordinator Brian Stewart is not afraid to dial up blitz packages, and get after running quarterbacks. That is mainly because Maryland’s defensive ends and linebackers possess the speed to get to them in the backfield and keep up with them when they break original containment.
This was especially evident in the Military Bowl, where Marshall quarterback Rakeem Cato was only able to gain 15 yards on the ground. The Terps forced Cato to rely on his arm to beat them, and clearly it worked out for the Thundering Herd. However, it had Maryland in a defensive rhythm, and they weren’t playing the guessing game of whether Marshall would have Cato keep the ball himself.
Maryland’s defensive prowess kept them in several games last year, and held signal callers like Jameis Winston, Tahj Boyd, and Cato under 30 yards on the ground on more than their fair share of rushing attempts. In the Clemson game, the Terps were expected to get blown out without several of their offensive weapons in the lineup, but they had a chance to take control against the Tigers in the second half.
These types of defensive performances lead up to Saturday’s matchup with Lee. His arm is less than stellar, so Maryland will once again have a strong indication of what the opposing quarterback could do. Lee is likely going to rely on his legs quite a bit in order to keep the game competitive.
Lee completed just 45.6 percent of his passes, throwing for 1,561 yards to go along with only 11 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions. He also rushed for 518 yards and eight touchdowns.
Ironically in Lee’s two seasons at Georgia Tech, the Terrapins only faced the Yellow Jackets once. However, the Terps defense will get their another crack at the dual-threat signal caller in Saturday’s season opener at Byrd Stadium.
In that one contest, Lee only threw two passes (completing one) for 26 yards, while amassing 60 yards on 12 carries on the ground. He also found the end zone on two occasions.
Lee is one of the few chances for the Dukes to give the Terps problems, and hang around. Judging on how effective Maryland was in defending dual-threat quarterbacks, they should have a strong outing against Lee. He is a guy that runs a large majority of the time. Judging by the numbers, his arm is clearly suspect.
History is definitely on Maryland’s side as of late, and it could equal a winning effort on Saturday afternoon.