Fee Fi Foe Film: Maryland Defense

Submitted by Ace on October 1st, 2015 at 4:50 PM

Previously: Maryland Offense

Pictured: Maryland's best defender.

Maryland allowed 38 points and 424 yards to West Virginia... in the first half. Big 12's T3 equivalent won't let me embed videos from the game. That's probably for the best.

Personnel: Maryland is overhauling their front seven after siginificant losses to graduation [click to embiggen]:

Also, do not punt to Will Likely.

Base Set? 4-3. Against West Virginia's spread, Maryland often had their two DEs stand up. WVU countered with big runs right at those guys because leverage apparently matters quite a bit for run defense. Who knew?

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the breakdown.]

Man or zone coverage? Maryland mostly ran zone and they were not good at it. The linebackers left plenty of space underneath and the back four had far too much ground to cover. WVU targeted Will Likely's zone repeatedly because it's tough for a 5'7" guy to cover a lot of ground and make a play on the ball. This was a common sight:

Things didn't go better when Maryland played man coverage. The result of Likely playing press coverage and allowing a free release to the outside graces the top of this post. He also got embarrassingly snapped off at the top of a well-run comeback route by a WVU receiver to set up an earlier touchdown. WVU's quarterback didn't have to make many tough decisions; there were open receivers on just about every play.

Pressure: GERG or Greg? Maryland mostly stuck to a four-man rush, which didn't go well. They got one sack on an overload blitz and for some reason never went back to it.

Dangerman: I mean, it's probably still Will Likely? Despite the down performance in this game, he usually plays tight coverage and can make shockingly good plays on the ball for a 5'7" dude. He also set up Maryland with their best field position of the game when he ripped the ball away from the return man on the second-half kickoff. (Caleb Rowe kindly gave the ball back on the very next play.)

Yannick Ngakoue is also one to watch as the Terps' most consistent pass-rusher. He got a few pressures but didn't have enough help to do anything with them. As a run defender he didn't look nearly as good; Maryland's front four was overwhelmed in this game.


West Virginia got whatever they wanted because they controlled the line of scrimmage. Maryland's defensive tackles, especially, couldn't prevent WVU from opening huge creases up the gut. This went for a big gain because a DT got pancaked so quickly that Kyle Bosch—yes, that Kyle Bosch—could get out to the MIKE and nobody else was home:

Here's another big play; the man #70 is blocking started the play as the near-side DT:

This somehow only resulted in two yards when the running back ran straight at the guy the slot receiver was blocking:

You get the point. Maryland's defensive line got manhandled; their linebackers spent the afternoon eating blocks; the four starting defensive backs combined for 32 tackles. Linebackers Jermaine Carter and Michael Brooks actually did a decent job of tackling and covering ground in this game, but they were constantly having to put out fires, and their play in coverage left a lot to be desired.

Meanwhile, the secondary got picked apart. West Virginia usually had all day to throw—and if pressure came it was easy to roll away from it—and there were plenty of holes to exploit in Maryland's zone coverage. The defensive backs should get some credit for reliably tackling after the catch, but that's about the best thing I can say about them. They're good in run support; they're not so good at their primary job.

They also didn't look very well coached. Want to guess what happened here?

If you had "wide receiver screen for a touchdown," collect your prize. It's a touchdown against Maryland redeemable for anyone named "Amara" or "Jehu" on Saturday.

The way this is set to play out, Michigan may not even need to exploit the generous pass defense. Even if they're playing in a monsoon, the Wolverines should be able to consistently grind out yards on the ground and let the defense do the heavy lifting. Also they should not punt to Will Likely, in case that hasn't been made clear.



October 1st, 2015 at 5:07 PM ^

FYI: You seem to have indicated the Maryland specialists on both the Maryland Offense and Maryland Defense FFFFs.

A small nit in an otherwise fantastic piece.


October 2nd, 2015 at 12:04 AM ^

No but Utah had an Aussie punter too.

These diagrams are meant to show the matchups. Kickers and punters largely play against themselves, and returners play against entire teams. I show the offense and defense of Michigan just so you can see who's up against whom.


October 1st, 2015 at 5:29 PM ^

What are the odds that a Dan Ferrigno-coached special teams unit probably punts to Will Likely and fields only ten men to represent Michigan is part of the Big Ten and its tremendous tradition and legacy in terms of toughness and physicalness to the ball?


October 1st, 2015 at 5:36 PM ^

Key Matchup:

Michigan's 5 returning starters on the OL vs Maryland's front seven with SIX! new faces this season.  None of whom are particularly highly touted.



October 1st, 2015 at 5:56 PM ^

Are we just assuming that Harbaugh is playing games with him? He is listed as the starter and is on the travel roster. I see Ace has Houma starting.


October 1st, 2015 at 7:08 PM ^

West Virginia had 601 yards total offense - half on the ground, half in the air.

Maryland committed 6 (SIX) turnovers (5 INTS!!!!)?

WVU ran 96 plays at super no huddle speed and still dominated the possession time 36 min to 24.

Maryland also thought it was 'Nam. 10 penalties, 100 yards

Jesus Christ.  That is some atrocious football - against one of Maryland's more hated rivals to boot.

Way to go Randy!


October 1st, 2015 at 9:11 PM ^

Wind gusts and rain probably will lead to a relatively low scoring game. It's nice to know that UM can just grind it out with Smith, Isaac, and Green plus a few short passes to TEs.

I'm hoping for a second straight shutout.


October 2nd, 2015 at 12:12 AM ^

No it is the new don't upgrade your iOS, or don't forget to wear sunscreen or look both ways before you cross the street or don't eat yellow snow. It is sage advice that can protect you from horrible things, and therefore whatever civilization you live in will emphasize it to the point where becomes cliche.