The Washington Times - August 1, 2008, 03:05PM

Guilty as charged. That’s my plea. I’ve been lurking on message boards again and have come up with a comparison that needs to be made.

It’s a contrast two teams that played 13-game seasons. And, like it often is here, it is in chart form:



Category TEAM A 
Points scored 284 313
Points allowed 284 280
First downs 220 235
Opponents’ first downs
236 252
Rushing yards gained 1,700 1,787
Rushing yards allowed 2,118 1,915
Passing yards gained 2,380 2,644
Passing yards allowed 2,570 2,739
Giveaways 23 17
Takeaways 17



Now, which one, based on the numbers, was better? You’d have to say for the most part, Team B probably was the more productive bunch. It improved nearly everything in these major categories; the only things that didn’t get better were first downs yielded and passing defense, and there were substantial advances in regard to turnovers.

This is obviously a trick question, since Team A went 9-4 (2006 Maryland) and Team B went 6-7 (2007 Maryland). But based on raw data, the ‘07 team should have produced a slightly better record.

And if you change two plays in each year, here’s betting that would be true.

Let’s say Jeremy Navarre doesn’t block Gary Cismesia‘s field goal attempt against Florida State. And suppose Dan Ennis‘ last-second field goal attempt against Clemson sails wide. All the sudden, there’s a good chance Maryland is 6-6 and off to play Navy or UCLA or Nevada in a lower-tier bowl.

Now let’s pretend Andrew Crummey and Jaimie Thomas don’t have their fibulas snap in back-to-back games. Think a competent running game might have permitted Maryland to eke out victories over Virginia and North Carolina, go 8-4 and get a shot at Michigan State in the Champs Sports Bowl?

Sure, this is all idle speculation. But when Maryland fans gripe about how their team’s 9-4 season in 2006 is overlooked, well, maybe that’s because that team was two plays away from a .500 regular season.

All things being equal, last year’s team was probably better and didn’t have the results to show for it. That’s why it isn’t irritating when people think about how the ‘07 bunch had a chance to go 8-4 or 9-3; that was certainly true, but some ill-placed losses foiled that possibility.

The reality is, Maryland has produced a 7-5ish team in both of the last two seasons, and those squads should be viewed in a fairly similar light. One had stability at quarterback, a deeper offensive line and a second-round NFL Draft pick at cornerback; the other had a options at wide receiver, what was probably slightly better linebacker play and a couple victories over top-10 teams.

No, they’re not identical, but they’re more alike than different. So when 2006 and 2007 in particular get lumped together when assessing Maryland’s recent performance, it’s because they should be.

 —- Patrick Stevens