COLLEGE PARK -- Spending close to 63 percent of the game on the field is suboptimal for any defense. Doing so against a quick-hitting offense constructed by a former Baylor assistant makes it nearly impossible to win.
That defense was Maryland in a 48-27 loss to Bowling Green. And, in a departure from previous instances where he had voiced concerns over pace, head coach Randy Edsall says the Terrapins have no one to blame but themselves for the fact that the Falcons ran north of 100 plays on Saturday.
“We’re on the field because it’s our fault,” Edsall said bluntly on Tuesday. “You can look at it, like I said, two ways.
“Number one, we didn’t control the ball offensively. We didn’t make first downs and keep our defense [off] the field, knowing you’re going against that kind of team.
“And then, conversely, we didn’t do a good enough job of getting off the field on third down when we had the opportunities on defense. So, that’s our fault.”
What resulted was a snowball effect, where the momentum of the Bowling Green offense couldn’t be stopped and the result were back-to-back back-breaking 99-yard and 73-yard touchdown drives.
Maryland will face another spread-based offense on Saturday against South Florida, one that features an all-conference caliber running back in Marlon Mack and a dual-threat quarterback in Quinton Flowers.
That means trying to contain an attack that features the read-option, a heavier dose of running than Bowling Green, and the reality that if the defense loses containment, a player like Flowers can make them pay.
“The thing that scares you is if he doesn’t have his first read,” defensive coordinator Keith Dudzinski said, “he can beat you with his feet in a hurry.”
So the prescription for Maryland on Saturday is multi-faceted.
Defensively, the team needs to get stops and force punts. Offensively, the staff is hoping that inserting Caleb Rowe at quarterback and shuffling the depth chart at wide receiver will help in sustaining drives, which keeps Maryland’s defense off the field.
Kickoff is set for noon at Byrd Stadium.