Scouting Maryland: how the Terps win

Deny Clemson offensive balance, win the return game, don't get burned deep

Clemson Tigers wide receiver Sammy Watkins looks at Maryland Terrapins linebacker Mario Rowson while running for a touchdown on a kick-off in the fourth quarter in the 2011 matchup.

Photo by Nathan Gray

Clemson Tigers wide receiver Sammy Watkins looks at Maryland Terrapins linebacker Mario Rowson while running for a touchdown on a kick-off in the fourth quarter in the 2011 matchup.

Scouting Maryland: how the Terps win...

1. Stuff the run: How good is Maryland's defense against the run? The Terps just held Boston College to eight yards, which was the fifth time in eight games they've held an opponent under 100 yards. Going into the Georgia Tech game, they ranked sixth nationally, giving up just 77.6 yards per game, and were giving up just 2.3 yards per rush, which ranks third in the nation. They, like many teams, had trouble defending Georgia Tech's flexbone, as the Yellow Jackets rolled up 375 yards and had four different players with gains of 25 yards or more. Overall, Maryland doesn't have many strengths to lean on, so it's essential that they do what they do best to have a chance against the Tigers. Chad Morris, on the other hand, is likely to have a trick or two up his sleeve, and isn't likely to give up on the run easily. It should make for an interesting battle of wills.

2. Win the return game: Maryland has one of the nation's most dynamic return men in first-year freshman Stefon Diggs, who ranks in the top five in the ACC in both kickoff returns and punt returns. He return a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown against Virginia, and ranks ninth nationally in all-purpose yards per game. On the other side of the ball, Maryland's kickoff coverage will be critical, as well. Sammy Watkins burned the Terps last year, and he's overdue to do it again. Kickoff man Brad Cockrell hasn't been much help, as he managed touchbacks on just five of his first 37 kickoffs.

3. Take away Clemson's quick strikes: Maryland's defense is well-suited to making opponents go the long, hard way. The Terps' stinginess will be compromised, however, if they allow the Tigers the big, game-changing plays that have become a Clemson trademark under Chad Morris. Maryland can't afford to give up the kind of plays Clemson used to bury Wake Forest and Duke. The Terps need for this one to unfold as a low-scoring defensive battle.

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