In defense of the second half

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It’s research time.

Loyal reader FearTheNoodle, who seems at times to believe my research powers are vast and without limits, wondered via e-mail today where the 38 points Maryland has yielded in the fourth quarter ranks in the ACC and the country.

I’m going to pass on the national angle, if only because of time contraints and an increasing lack of patience on my part with football and basketball monopolizing my team. But it doesn’t lead the country; if Southern Cal’s 12 fourth-quarter points surrendered (and 19 in the second half) don’t, well, there’s a really good defense out there I don’t know much about.

Anyway, here’s the rundown of fourth-quarter points yielded, a category Maryland leads among ACC schools:

School4Q Points Yielded
Maryland38
Virginia51
Duke53
Georgia Tech
56
Boston College
57
Florida State
58
Virginia Tech
58
North Carolina
60
Miami65
Wake Forest
69
Clemson71
N.C. State
91

And here’s a look at the second half plus overtime, with OT points in parentheses:

School2nd Half Points
Boston College
70
Maryland75
North Carolina
92
Georgia Tech
98
Clemson103
Florida State
103
Miami103
Wake Forest
109
Virginia
110 (10)
Virginia Tech
111
Duke118 (3)
N.C. State
142

Now, just how has Maryland done such a good job?

Well, let’s start by crediting the defense for playing fairly well. That would seem to be the most sensible thing to do.

But let’s run down just what each opponent was doing in those fourth quarters:

* Middle Tennessee, Virginia and Virginia Tech were content to run out the clock.

* Delaware and Eastern Michigan were overmatched.

* Clemson, Wake Forest and North Carolina spent less than six minutes on offense in the fourth quarter.

* N.C. State had one fruitless possession in the fourth quarter besides a desperation play at the end.

* California carved up the Terps.

As I see it, those circumstances have something to do with Maryland’s impressive numbers.

But let’s look at this another way – via a drive breakdown.

In 10 games, Maryland’s defense was on the field for 30 possessions. Here’s the distribution of those drives:

PUNT: 10 (DEL, MTSU, EMU, CU, UVA, WF 2, NCSU, VT, UNC 2)

TD: 5 (DEL, CAL 3, EMU)

HALF: 5 (MTSU, UVA, WF, NCSU, VT)

DOWNS: 5 (MTSU, CAL, EMU, CU, WF)

INT: 3 (DEL, EMU, UNC)

FG: 1 (VT)

 

MISSED FG: 1 (UVA)

So that’s six scoring drives, or 20 percent. Not bad work.

One other number before wrapping this up. Opponents are 10-for-18 on fourth down against Maryland this year. But that figure is only 2-for-7 in the fourth quarter – on these plays:

* MTSU: 4/8, UM 32, Incomplete pass (MTSU leads 24-14)

* CAL: 4/6, UM 34, Incomplete pass (UM leads 28-6)

* EMU: 4/1, EMU 39, McMahon sacked by Covington and Otulaja (UM leads 34-17)

* EMU: 4/1, UM 37: McMahon 1 run (UM leads 37-17)

* CU: 4/1, UM 40: Harper stuffed by Wujciak (UM leads 20-17)

* WF: 4/6, UM 28: Skinner incomplete, tipped by Navarre (UM leads 19-0)

* VT: 4/1, UM 34: Evans 3 run (VT leads 20-13)

Patrick Stevens

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