Cause-and-effect is, in itself, a loaded phrase.
Theoretically, you’re looking at potential causes to try to determine effect.
But in most things, you’re really left with a bunch of undesirable effects and left to figure out just what caused them. Sometimes it’s one thing, some times it’s many. You don’t need to watch a few episodes of “House” to learn this, but it does help drive home the point and watching a misanthrope insult people all day is much more fun than viewing bad football.
Anyway, the big effect of last night was Maryland’s 20:11 time of possession. It’s the program’s lowest since the Terps had the ball only 18:56 against Notre Dame in the 2002 Kickoff Classic. You might recall that wasn’t exactly a high tide for the program, either.
So between that loss and the 2003 loss at non-BCS school Northern Illinois, there are plenty of references to early-season setbacks for teams Ralph Friedgen has coached. But are they warranted? Given the number of causes here, probably not.
See, it wasn’t as simple as “the quarterbacks didn’t play well” or “a running game couldn’t be relied upon” or “receivers dropped balls” or “the offensive line was outplayed and missed assignments” or “the defensive line is still undersized” or “the secondary was never effectively used to jam Middle Tennessee’s receivers at the line and instead gave up five yards a play even when it did what it was instructed” or “the return game wasn’t especially inspiring” or “the field-goal kicker is 0-for-4 on the season.”
Those were all more-or-less true. As the saying goes, it was a team effort.
Since those were all partial causes for the Mortification in Murfreesboro, it stands to reason some of them can be fixed. Well, the defensive line isn’t going to get any bigger at this point, but theoretically the rest of those causes can be improved in some way or another.
Whether they will is another matter. So too is determining what the largest causes were – because if you correct some small problems, that’s all well and good, but the big concerns will loom even larger if they keep tripping the Terps up.
It’s unlikely Maryland will come up with a flat-out stinker like this again – not that there won’t be more losses, but it’s hard to fathom how the Terps could play much worse. And time of possession won’t always be that imbalanced.
But the causes remain there, meaning there will be plenty to work on when the team re-convenes on Monday.