What’s Up With The Maryland Terrapins Offense?


With two games left on the schedule, it’s time to face facts: Maryland’s offense is bad.

Taking away the offense that the defense provides (and Brad Craddock’s insane leg) this team is averaging 21 points per game on offense. Since September, it’s fallen off a proverbial cliff. To see just how bad things have gotten, just take a look at the splits:

RecordPassingRushingTotal OffenseFirst DownsPenaltiesTurnovers

Maryland has gone from a team that ran the ball a lot to start the season (33.8 attempts per game) to one that has completely abandoned it and left it for dead in November (23.5 attempts per game). It isn’t just that, but Maryland has upped their passing attempts from a modest 31.3 attempts to start the year (completing 60.8% of those passes) to 40.5 attempts now (completing under 47% of those attempts). That second increase is telling on a larger scale, because as this offense has gotten far worse at picking up first downs (down to 13 in November from 18.3 in September and 16.3 in October), they’re throwing more than ever.

Who’s to blame?

It is far too easy to simply say, “It’s C.J. Brown’s fault,” and be done with it. It requires no actual analysis and is an equally opinionated topic. There is no single source to blame for this complete failure offensively, but there are a lot of separate reasons that have coalesced into one toxic ball known unofficially as the Terps offense. But the biggest factor and the one we always tend to overlook because it requires perspective is….

The schedule has gotten a lot tougher.

16-24: That’s the record of the Terps opponents in September.

38-12: That’s the record of the Terps opponents since September.

68th, 21st, 106th, 77th: That’s the allowed yards per game of the Terps opponents in September.

11th, 9th, 10th, 2nd, 1st: That’s the allowed yards per game of Terps opponents since September.

Sit back and marvel for a minute in the fact that Maryland is 2-3 after facing five straight top 11 defenses nationally (soon to be six straight with 7th ranked defense Michigan coming up. That’s not a small feat; that’s something that never would have happened in prior years. Not even SEC teams have faced a stretch against top defense like this Maryland one (go ahead and check). Their in conference strength of schedule is 32nd in the country and tied with Ohio State for lead in the Big Ten.

Any team would struggle during that stretch run. At the beginning of the season, a lot of folks felt Maryland could lose out after Indiana.

Forgive me if I want to cut the offense some slack.

What’s fixable

Tough defenses aside, there are some wounds that are simply self-inflicted on the Terps.

Abandonment of the run

Maryland’s offensive line is not great, but the Terrapins decision to nearly abandon the run outright is killing them in more ways than one. Because Maryland is 124th of a possible 128 teams in third down conversion percentage, their time of possession at 44% of the game is 120th nationally. Maryland’s 24th in passing attempts per game, 98th in completion percentage, and as we all know, incompletions stop the clock. The Terps defense is on the field all the time and opponents are running about 80 plays per game against them because the offense is preicated around an iffy passing attack.

Only ten teams run the ball less than Maryland in all of college football, and while the receiving corp may relish that fact, the quarterback is simply incapable of shouldering that kind of load. Were Caleb Rowe at quarterback, that might fly. But C.J. Brown is a dual-threat QB whose legs are not able to run against top defenses (1.9 yards per carry and 22 yards per game since the West Virginia game. Relying on him at this point to make plays is effectively wasting most plays.

Maryland’s isn’t Baylor, and pretending like they are has resulted in an offense that doesn’t work. In fact, it often damns the team from the start. This year the Terps are second to last in first half time of possession at 40%. Last year, they held only it nearly 50% of the first half. They also threw a lot less and ran a lot more. The defense being on the field 60% of the first half is just unreasonable to ask.

A simple fix over the final two games would be to scrap the zone-read, which opponent have been reading all year to perfection, and replace those plays with more traditional runs. The Terps are barely getting positive yardage out of these QB runs, there’s a good chance by controlling the clock and giving it to the backs, they’ll get more out of their passing plays (short-yardage third down scenarios).

When the backs were running Power with Caleb Rowe, at least Wes Brown looked decent doing so. Why not run out of the I or some two tight end Ideally, Maryland puts together a package that includes a lot of that. Even if the yardage gains aren’t huge, they’re better than incompletions and the ineffective zone read at this point.