Here are Coach Venables’ offensive and defensive grades after Maryland’s 34-29 win over UT at FedEx Field on Saturday. Some good, some bad, and some optimism.
We had a very inconsistent game. We slept walked thru the first quarter before joining the fight in the second. The second half wasn’t our finest moment but in my opinion the biggest mistakes are very correctable if we go about it professionally. We need help both inside and outside the white lines.
We had some really bright spots that are going to pay huge dividends if we can decide to eliminate the obvious and concentrate on the strong points in reference to our personnel. We shoot our own selves too damn often. We refuse to be patient at critical times. We depend on weaker personnel to make the difference instead of featuring our best options.
The Oline busted a few individual assignments but overall played winning football. Sam Cosmi had several big time drive blocks and more than held his own pass blocking. Calvin Anderson was very consistent at LT . Vahe was good with the exception of two bad pass protections. Shack had three bad plays but overall was much improved from last season. Rodriguez had his best game with only two bad plays. Kerstetter had skate problems in pass pro and run wasn’t much better at times.
Beck had too many finesse blocks with too little contact but did have one nice catch. Brewer had one nice catch but probably didn’t play enough plays. Johnson had a good game receiving but his blocking might get someone hurt on those screens. Duvernay had a nice game with one fantastic td catch—his blocking isn’t getting the job done either. Humphrey had another solid game but did have one bad drop. LJH’s blocking falls into line with the others—we seem to have a pattern unfortunately. Watch the Maryland WR blocking our guys—you can’t be a complete football player if you neglect one critical aspect of your assignments.
Ingram is exactly what the Dr. ordered—raw talent that will have a few wtf’s but will make some jaw breaking attaboys to make up for the inexperience. Watson has skills but might be best utilized as a part-time specialist. The best thing about both newcomers is they are willing to block a blitzing backer. Young didn’t attack early—that was his strongest asset last fall. Porter is a part time specialist that is overused right now.
My only comment about the QB situation is it’s obvious we need a better passer than the position offered yesterday. If we are going to run a QB oriented offense without the QB keeping off the zone we damn sure better be able to throw effectively. Maybe the staff needs to rethink exactly what they want the position to deal and deliver because right now we are very predictable and easy to defend.
We had too many plays where one individual player busted his assignment while the others graded out well. This tends to make the overall individual grades appear higher than they should be. There is hope for this offense but we must find the key to getting better at the key point of our offense.
Here are the grades — remember anything lower than a B is not winning football at that position.
We allowed one single play to gash our defensive plan and along with not defending an accurate passing attack very well we did not play up to our potential yesterday. It’s strictly an opinion but it doesn’t appear our defensive staff devises their plan as well against motion and/or option as well as wide open spreads. We didn’t have the correct adjustments for the jet sweep and it killed us.
We had too many missed tackles but when you are talking about open field space take downs you are going against the toughest assignments in the game. We failed tackles and especially angles on the jet sweep. Instead of the safe but sure angle we often undercut trying to make the big play and wound up grabbing air. We never understood that inside stunts (mugging the A gap) wasn’t exactly effective versus the jet sweep or a scrambling QB.
We had a couple of tough penalties that continued scoring drives. We screened/picked each other on a long td pass. We received big games from Brandon Jones, Kris Boyd and Davante Davis even though Boyd dropped a gimme and had a tough penalty in coverage and Davis went out with a neck injury.
Sterns had a very solid game but will give more help once he gets over the thrill of it all. Foster is a big time player that stood out blitzing and slamming runs. Foster arrived several times with a bad attitude. Locke has problems as a nickel. He’s not comfortable in space, taking on and getting off of lead blocks, and is lost in pass coverage. Boyce played coverage safe and made a few nice tackles.
We can be better in the secondary. We must improve our eliminating the big plays. Scrimmage runs must be attacked better. We must eliminate running into each other in coverage. There is too much talent to be average in our secondary.
Jeff McCulloch was our best backer yesterday. Wheeler was better than last year but is a liability in pass coverage. Roach was reduced to a spectator yesterday. We know he is an aggressive attacker (as a DL) while he watched the game yesterday as a LB. Gary Johnson missed MJ much more than many realized. Gary wasn’t allowed to fly around as much and then he committed the cardinal sin.
Chris Nelson had his best game and it was a Poona type effort. Nelson’s play on the GL and short yardage is the thing that needs to be made into a training film for the how to do’s. Omenihu had a costly penalty on a roughing call and a failure to get into a stance on a big third down. Hager was taken out of his comfort zone with those damn jet sweeps but did get a batted pass. Graham is a good player that needs more snaps—Charles and Hager played too many. Bimage needs more snaps—same reason. Wilbon had a good game until the hands to face penalty.
Here are the grades:
GRADING SCALE: My grading system is based on total points earned against number of plays played. The points are awarded individually on each and every separate play. There are five different possible grades for each play. Players may earn a plus three (3) for a five star type play—-plus two (2) for above average execution—-plus one (1) for doing their job successfully—-zero (0) for getting beat but knowing and attempting their assignment—-and minus 3 (-3) for a missed assignment.
Each player has a total number of points and a total number of his own individual plays. You divide the total number of plays into the total number of points which gives you scale. The grading scale is as follows:
Any player averaging one point per play (1.0) grades out a B which is winning football. If a player plays 60 plays with 60 total points he would earn a passing grade—each point he goes over the total number of plays raises his grade accordingly. The system is built around rewarding any player that doesn’t beat himself or his team with mental mistakes.
The system also punishes any player that knows what to do but loses too many individual battles. If a player plays 60 plays but loses 10 of those with zero special plays (60 plays—50 points) he falls below the 1.0 needed for a passing grade of B.
I use the plus/minus (A-, B+, etc,) when the numbers indicate a partial add or subtract from the grade. This system was used by my first coaching staff and I kinda carried it with me for thirty years—it’s not perfect but it gives the position coach a measuring stick for his individual players.
The only way to earn the highest grade of A is to play a perfect game. I’ve had exactly zero up to right now so great games still can be better so A- is a very popular second best. This system and my grades will always be subjective filled with agree and disagree opinions. It’s entirely fair for disagreement (without it we might not have horse races) but it’s important to remember that each play only counts once instead of allowing a big mistake to have major influence on an individual’s final grade.