The Maryland Terrapins open their home schedule at Byrd Stadium against an FCS opponent in Morgan St. After barely holding on against Navy, the Terps welcome an opponent with less experience, overall talent and complexity in their offensive system. The game should be much more of a tune-up for Maryland as the level of talent and athleticism is clearly in their favor. But that should have been the case against Navy as well. Regardless, here is what to look for in this evenings contest between the Terps and the Bears.
Offensively, Maryland got off to a fast start against Navy, but then struggled to move the ball consistently after the Mids made some adjustments and bottled up Da’Rell Scott. Maryland showed nothing through the air, as Jamar Robinson only attempted five passes. The question for the coach Ralph Friedgen is will he let the offense open things up through the air against an undermanned squad? The Bears have decent talent at corner, including Syracuse transfer Niko Scott, but Maryland has solid play makers at the receiver position in Torrey Smith, Adrian Cannon, Emani Lee-Odai and Ronnie Tyler. The Terps need to get the ball down field in order to open things up for the run game. If they are successful through the air, Morgan will be spread too thin to be able to defend the option rushing attack as well.
Playing time at the QB position will be another thing to watch closely. Against Navy, Friedgen inserted back-up QB Danny O’Brien for a play that resulted in a fumble. Friedgen insists that playing O’Brien was part of the plan, but replacing Robinson for even one play has caused a mini-QB controversy. Robinson has more experience in the system, but he has yet to show he canpass the ball efficiently. Neither has O’Brien for that matter, but if Robinson struggles to balance the offense will Fridge be quicker to get O’Brien more time?
Defensively, look for Adrian Moten and Kenny Tate to be flying around and making plays. DT Joe Vellano played well against Navy and was named an ACC player of the week, along with Tate. Maryland’s defensive line needs to be more active against Morgan. There is not a lot of athleticism on the Maryland line, but they should be able to out-perform a large, but inferior offensive line for the Bears.
The key to attacking Morgan’s offense will be slowing down Rutgers transfer Jourdan Brooks. Brooks is a talented athlete, but he was only able to rush for 62 yards against Bowie St. despite carrying the ball 27 times. If the Terps bottle up Brooks the pressure falls to an inexperienced QB in Donovan Dickerson. Dickerson is also an athletic player, but there seems to be a lack of skill players for him to get the ball to on the Morgan St. roster.
This game is an opportunity for Maryland to have a decisive victory against an under-manned opponent, but it has been a while since the Terps had an impressive victory. Maryland was favored by 38.5 points earlier this week. I don’t expect the game to be that big of a rout but a 24-30 point win is not out of the question. Look for the Terps to win 34-7.