After a four-touchdown performance against South Florida, Caleb Rowe’s fortunes in the first half against West Virginia were not so kind.
Daniel Martin breaks down his first-half outing. Here is his stat line through 30 minutes: 5-of-20 passing, 23 yards, 0 TDs, 2 INTs.
West Virginia leads, 38-0, at halftime.
1) First drive actually promising
Maryland’s opening drive ended with a turnover on downs in West Virginia territory, but there were some promising parts to it. They converted two third downs. Caleb Rowe made a few smart decisions, including scrambling for a first down, instead of forcing the ball into tight places.
It was the kind of drive that could set the groundwork for a solid day, despite the way it ended. But that was not to be in the first half.
2) Miscommunication and frustration
Rowe began 1-of-10 for three yards as the game reached into the second quarter. He tried to take the top off the defense by pushing the ball deep, but throws were either off line or well-covered.
On one first-quarter play, there appeared to be a miscommunication between Rowe and wide receiver Amba Etta-Tawo. Rowe chirped in frustration.
In the second quarter, another miscommunication appeared to occur when Rowe was looking for Malcolm Culmer deep. Culmer pulled up and the ball was thrown with the thought he would keep running. It was intercepted.
Rowe would throw another interception when he led receiver Jahrvis Davenport too much and it was picked off in the middle of the field.
On the one notable offensive play of the first half, the benefits of a 55-yard catch and run by Brandon Ross were erased when he fumbled the ball at the goal line and it rolled through the back of the end zone for a touchback. That gave the ball back to West Virginia in a 35-0 game.
3) Offensive struggles create defensive snowball effect
West Virginia runs a spread offense. That has a tendency to wear down defenses. Maryland, under Rowe’s watch, was unable to sustain drives in the first half. That put the defense back out there, worn down by West Virginia’s running game and pace of play.
That creates a downhill snowball effect that allowed the Mountaineers to hold a 38-0 lead at halftime.