Maryland's defense is way better than you think


Quick. Name the two teams in ACC play that have allowed fewer than 5 yards/play. Florida State and...? That's right, Maryland.

Maryland is one of the two best defenses FSU has faced so far this season, along with Virginia Tech. You can argue that it is better than Tech, but you cannot argue that any non-tech defense is a better unit.

You can look at the total points allowed by the Terps and be fooled into thinking this defense can't play. And you'd be foolish to not dig deeper.

Maryland has allowed 24 points a game. That's not awful, but it's nothing special. And in Clemson last week, they allowed 45.

But dig Deeper. See that Clemson's scoring drives started from its own 48, 40, 47, 34, 45 and 20. That's some ridiculous field position. Oh, and another touchdown came off a scoop and score fumble recovery for touchdown.

Other games are very similar. A look at Brian Fremeau's component breakdown ("The total offensive, defensive, special teams, and expected values earned through the non-garbage possessions of the given game add up to the non-garbage scoring margin of the game. Field position value and turnover value earned are also provided.") shows that on the season, Maryland's defense has been tremendous while its offense has absolutely killed this team.

Team Wk Opponent Final NG Final Off Def ST Ex FP TO
Maryland 2 Temple W 36-27 W 36-27 4.9 6.6 -0.6 -1.9 -4.7 -5.2
Maryland 3 Connecticut L 21-24 L 21-24 -5.3 5.0 -2.7 0.0 -8.3 -3.7
Maryland 4 West Virginia L 21-31 L 21-31 -1.6 -9.1 -1.2 1.9 -3.1 -12.8
Maryland 6 Wake Forest W 19-14 W 19-14 -11.5 14.3 4.1 -1.9 -3.1 -2.6
Maryland 7 Virginia W 27-20 W 27-20 -4.3 6.6 6.5 -1.9 4.3 4.3
Maryland 8 North Carolina State L 18-20 L 18-20 -2.2 1.3 -3.0 1.9 2.0 -7.8
Maryland 9 Boston College L 17-20 L 17-20 -5.6 8.6 -7.9 1.9 3.3 0.5
Maryland 10 Georgia Tech L 13-33 L 0-27 -14.0 -15.1 2.1 0.0 -1.3 -1.1
Total -39.7 18.3 -2.6 0.0 -10.9 -28.3

If you peruse that link, you'll see just how ridiculous the difference between Maryland's offense and defense truly is.

Which, given that Maryland is on his fifth quarterback of the season who was actually moved from linebacker two weeks ago following another injury, is probably to be expected. Yeah, you read that right. Fifth quarterback. He's a linebacker. This is probably going to be the worst ACC offense FSU has ever played, particularly if receiver Stefon Diggs is out with injury.

Here are some comparison numbers for you. They're not adjusted for garbage time, so do keep that in mind.

Against Wake Forest, FSU held the Demon Deacons to 2.14 yards/play. Maryland? 3.60 yards/play. Against N.C. State, FSU allowed 3.96 yards/play. Maryland? 4.75. FSU held Boston College to 3.46 yards/play. Maryland? 4.47. Florida State held Clemson to 5.53/play. Maryland? 5.74 (in Clemson, mind you). The common thread here is that these two have held common opponents to way under their season averages.

Maryland is a heavy, heavy zone blitz team. They'll play cover four in base, but will bring many different pressures even on early downs. They run a 3-4 and their DC is from the Texans, Chargers, Cowboys, and Eagles, which are all or were heavy, heavy blitz teams.

As I wrote two weeks ago, FSU's offense is about to face much tougher defenses than it had previously played, and FSU's defense is going to see much worse offenses than it had previously faced.

For FSU to blow out the Terps, as many will expect, the defense will need to produce good field position and turnovers against a truly awful offense.

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