Something overlooked in the mess and the muck Saturday was Virginia’s decision to keep kickoffs away from Torrey Smith.
The Maryland sophomore didn’t have a kickoff return in the 20-9 loss, the result of squib kicks throughout the day.
“It’s frustrating,” Smith said. “But my team’s getting good field position so you can’t complain too much.”
Let’s take a look at that for a second. Here’s Maryland’s average field position off kickoffs in its first seven games. As background on the calculations, a series that starts on Maryland’s 30 gets inputted as “30,” on an opponent’s 40 as “60” and a touchdown counts as “100.”
|Game||Kickoffs||Avg. Start |
|James Madison||6||Own 42|
|Middle Tennessee ||6||Own 25|
|@Wake Forest||7||Own 34|
Not a whole lot of difference, huh?
It should be pointed out that Saturday’s average was depressed with the lateral fiasco on the final kickoff. That shaved seven yards off the average start.
In any case, such an adjustment might have been done for the weather. It might also have been inevitable if Smith broke off another touchdown or two.
“It’s what you expect,” special teams coordinator Charles Bankins said. “I’ve run our return scheme for a while now. I’m really surprised we’ve only got one touchdown. Usually they wait until you have two or three. Then they start kicking it away. That’s expected. …
After a while people decide ‘We’re not going to let them make plays.’ Then we’ll have to go to something different. We’ll start the ball on the 40-yard line and put our offense on a short field all the time.”