While dissecting the Maryland football team’s latest 500-yard effort and double-digit rout last Saturday against Connecticut, offensive coordinator Mike Locksley reacted to the idea that his Terrapins opened with a somewhat sloppy start.
“Kind of a sloppy start?” he asked, eyebrows raised. “For us, definitely not the type of football we want to play.”
Locksley didn’t mince words during his weekly interview session with reporters. Though Maryland topped the Huskies by 11 points and racked up more than 500 yards for the third straight game, the three turnovers and two failed fourth-down conversions lingered more in his mind.
“It’s the thing we talk and preach first and foremost is not beating ourselves,” he said. “The fumbles down in the pre-red zone area, coming up short on two fourth and inches, fourth and ones. That’s not what good teams do. We need to get that corrected, scoring in the red zone, third-down percentage. All those things are correctable and things we need to take the necessary steps.”
Maryland flew home with a third straight win, a successful homecoming for Coach Randy Edsall and a bucket filled with teachable moments. On at least two occasions, Locksley said, quarterback C.J. Brown misread the Connecticut defense and handed off instead of keeping it. Had that happened, the conversion rate would have been higher. As it stands, Maryland converted just 23.5 percent of opportunities on third and fourth down.
“Those fourth and ones and third and ones, those should be offensive gimmes,” Locksley said. “The conversion percentages are in your favor the shorter the distance. A lot of that is attributed to missed assignments and lack of execution on our part but give UConn credit.”
>> West Virginia scored a 31-21 win over Maryland last season in Morgantown, even though Terps wide receiver Stefon Diggs dazzled with several long gains. This season, West Virginia’s second under coordinator Keith Patterson, the Mountaineers rank 31st nationally in total defense.
“I don’t think from a structural standpoint they’re much different,” Locksley said. “They’re like us in year two of the scheme, they have a great understanding, and this will be the toughest defense we’ll face so far.”
But West Virginia hasn’t faced an offense of Maryland’s caliber yet. Patterson said via phone Tuesday that the Terps boast the most diverse scheme West Virginia has faced all season, and that includes a 16-7 loss to No. 14 Oklahoma on Sept. 7. The Mountaineers currently have an even turnover margin, recovering three fumbles and intercepting three passes through as many games.
“They create pressure with their odd front,” Locksley said. “They’ve got pressure they like to bring to stop the run, the secondary, they play well in space, they create turnovers over last few games. We’re going to have a challenge this Saturday.”
>> Locksley said Saturday’s game at Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium should help attract local recruiting talent to the program. Playing on the NFL field shouldn’t require that much adjustment. The Terps already practice and play on turf at home, and will be able to address the hashmark differences – NFL stadiums have them further toward the sideline – during a walk-through.
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