Matt Hayes of SportingNews.com is a pretty well-respected college football writer who’s been at his trade for years now. He’s got plenty of experience, is an award-winning writer, and obviously a must-follow on Twitter. Typically his thoughts on football are succinct and accurate, without much in the way of bias and favoritism as a whole. So when he writes, it’s worth reading.
In case you missed it, Maryland Coach Randy Edsall had some pretty loaded comments after the West Virginia game concerning the 108 plays the Mountaineers ran on the Terrapins in their win last week. Without bogging you down in the details, we’ll provide the gist of his quote below:
"I think there’s a problem in college football, I really do, with that many plays – Randy Edsall"
Edsall then went on to voice concerns about the general safety of defensive players being required to stay on the field for such long periods of time. Even when the comments came out, they most definitely were not received warmly by many; some thought the comments felt a bit “sour grapes-y” more than actual substance.
Which brings us back to Hayes, who, after a few days of chewing over the details, had some choice words for Edsall on Wednesday:
"Most of all, I’m embarrassed for the players on the Maryland team, a group of young men who, despite busting their ass for four quarters last weekend in a rivalry game, came up short after West Virginia’s Josh Lambert nailed a game-winning 47-yard field goal — WVU’s 108th play of the game — as time expired.Before we go any further, I’d like to ask Edsall if West Virginia’s no-huddle, tempo offense was an issue last season when the Terps beat the Mountaineers THIRTY-SEVEN TO ZILCH ."
Pretty strong sentiments from Hayes, but he’s not done there. He then makes a very strong counterargument suggesting the bruising ground attack that Alabama and Arkansas employ against inferior opponents (which controls the majority of clock time) is equally as hard on defenses. And he thinks this might be the problem:
"Look, it’s not about tempo or how fast you can get on the ball and snap off another play. It’s not about the number of plays and if more plays cause more injury. They don’t.Injuries are part of the game. You know what else is?Defense.Play it, and all this nonsensical narrative about how fast plays are run and how many plays are run goes away."
Hayes isn’t too far off with this rhetoric, to be honest. Sure West Virginia ran a ton of plays offensively, but that’s their strategy. It’s what they go with every single year and hasn’t been much of a problem to this point. Maryland’s game was on the extreme end of the spectrum in terms of how badly an uptempo offense can beat you down, but it isn’t as if West Virginia did anything wrong.
Maryland only gave up ten points in the second half on defense, which is pretty good work considering the hole they dug in the first half. A bigger problem might have been the offense going three-and-out back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back. Had they converted any of those first times there’s a good chance WVU doesn’t start running even more plays. It’s that simple, really.
Edsall was probably trying to compartmentalize the loss and suggest that, had there been other rules that limited the amount of time his team had to be on the field defensively, they could have won the game. I get it, it’s what coaches do to make sure their players don’t get too down on themselves about a rivalry game loss at home before heading onto the road to a team they got summarily trounced by last year. That doesn’t mean it’s not going to get criticized.
Regardless, I think we’ve had some shots fired.