Maryland Preview and Prediction

Maryland Preview and Prediction

Football

Maryland Preview and Prediction

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Clemson returns to Death Valley Saturday in search for their first ACC win of the year when the battle Maryland in a noon kickoff.

The Series: 

Saturday’s meeting between Clemson and North Carolina will be just the 57th meeting for the two ACC teams.  Clemson leads the overall series 30-25-2.  The Tigers lead the series at Clemson 16-13.  Maryland won the last meeting in 2008 20-17 at Clemson.  The Terps also upset the Tigers 24-21 last year at Maryland.  The Terps have won six of the last nine meetings.

Tiger’s Offense vs Terp’s Defense: 

The Tigers found a passing game last week as they went with DeAndre Hopkins and Jaron Brown at receiver.  Nuke had seven catches last week, but did drop a couple of passes.  Brown added a long touchdown catch in the fourth quarter.  Hopkins was injured at practice on Wednesday and is questionable for Saturday.  If he can’t go it be be a blow to the Tigers offense as it is clear that the true freshman is the best playmaker at receiver already.

The Tigers plan to give Andre Ellington the majority of the carries on Saturday.  Andre will have extra incentive as he plays in front of his mentor C.J. Spiller.  Spiller mentored Andre from the minute he stepped on campus and the two have remained close.  Expect Andre to put on a show for his good friend.  Ellington was the rushing leader in the ACC going into the North Carolina game, but now stands third in the ACC averaging 87 yards per game and 6.6 yards per carry.  Expect to see a little fire from Harper when he does carry the ball as he competes for more carries.  The Terps are giving up 163 yards per game on the ground.  Expect the Tigers to rush for over 200 on Saturday. 

Kyle Parker played his best game of the year against the Heels.  Expect Parker’s completion percentage to continue to climb now that the Tigers have settled on several starters.  Another strong performance from Kyle will be key to a Clemson victory.

The strength of the Heels defense is at linebacker.  The Terps have three linebackers that rank in the top ten tacklers in the ACC.  Alex Wujciak is second in the ACC with 11.4 tackles per game.  Sean Spence is fourth in the ACC with 8.6 tackles per game, while Demetrius Hartsfield averages 7.4 tackles per game good enough for ninth in the ACC. 

Joe Vellano leads a talented defensive line for the Terps and is second in the ACC in sacks behind DaQuan Bowers.  Vellano averages 1 sack per game so far in 2010.  Adrian Moten and Ray Ray Armstrong both are off to good starts with interceptions.  Moten is tied for second in the ACC in interceptions with three on the year.

Edge:  Tigers 

Tiger’s Defense vs Heels’s Offense: 

The Tigers spent the went preparing for two quarterbacks for the Terps.  Freshman Danny O’Brien has played well managing the game in the absence of Jamarr Robinson who has been out with a shoulder injury.  Robinson is expected to be back this week so the Tigers had to prepare for his mobility.  O’Brien is 32-63 on the year with six touchdowns and no interceptions. Robinson is 21-43 on the year with four touchdowns and no interceptions.  Robinson also has 88 yards rushing on 30 carries.

For the second week in a row the Tigers face two talented running backs.  Davin Meggett has 51 carries for 325 yards and a strong 6.4 yards per carry.  Da’Rel Scott has rushed for 51 carries for 259 yards and 5.1 yards per carry.  Stopping the run will be the key for the Tigers defense.  If Clemson can stop the run and force the Terps to pass the Tigers should get their first ACC win of the year.

Torrey Smith is one of the best receivers in the nation.  Smith’s 23.8 yards per catch is second in the nation for receivers with at least 15 catches.   Smith leads the ACC in all-purpose yards with 123 yards.

The Clemson defense played their best game of the year against the Heels.  DaQuan Bowers continues his impressive junior season.  Bowers is currently ranked third in the nation in tackles for loss with 11.5 and fourth in the nation in sacks with six.   

Maryland’s offense struggled against the only tough team they have faced so far this season, West Virginia.  Look for the Clemson defense to continue their improvement and shut down the Terps running game.

Edge:  Tigers 

Special Teams:

Once again the Tigers will face one of the leagues top return guys this week.  Clemson gave up a big kickoff return last week.  The Tigers will need to be at their best when Smith gets the ball in his hands.
 
Travis Baltz handles the kicking and punting duties for the Terps.  Baltz is 4-5 on field goals this year and averages 41.7 yards per punt. 
 
Dawson Zimmerman continues to be strong for the Tigers averaging 45.4 yards per punt.  Zimmerman is currently second in the ACC.  Chandler Catanzaro hit another field goal for the Tigers last week and looks to have regained his confidence.
 
Marcus Gilchrist continues to play well for the Tigers.  Marcus is second in the ACC in punt returns with a 13 yard average and fifth in the ACC in kickoff returns with an average of 24.8.  DeAndre Hopkins had the best return last week, a punt return of 31 yards.  Look for Hopkins to get more opportunities once he is healthy.
 
Edge:  Even

Overall Analysis:

The Terps have given the Tigers fits the past few years, including wins their last two visits to Death Valley.  Maryland has an open date last week so expect some surprises.  For the second week in a row Clemson is clearly the more talented team, even though Maryland has the better record.

Things will get very ugly in the Upstate if the Tigers can’t win Saturday.  The Tigers must get a conference victory if they plan to have a shot at winning the Atlantic Division for the second year in a row.  The Tigers appeared confident this week even though they have lost three in a row. 

Expect the Tigers to get back to what they do well, running the ball and playing dominant defense.  Clemson won’t let this one slip away as they have the past few weeks.  A fast start is critical for the Tigers.  Look for the Tigers to come out on the first drive and try to establish the run.  If the game plan goes as expected Andre Ellington will get over 20 carries and have another 100 yard plus performance for the Tigers.  For the first time since early September Clemson will get a victory.

Clemson 34  Maryland 17

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