3 Quick Keys for Maryland vs. Temple:
1) Keep the Owls off the Ground:
There is only one person worth worrying about on Temple’s offense, and I’ll give you a hint: it’s not the 5th year senior Chester Stewart making his first start of the season. No, this week Maryland will be dealing with dynamic running back Bernard Pierce. In the first two games, he bordered on unstoppable (combined 297 yards, 6 TD’s) and Temple trampled Villanova and Akron by a combined score of 83-10.
Last week, Penn State bottled him up for only 50 yards and 1 TD and – surprise – Temple struggled mightily to get the ball moving during a 14-10 loss. Randy Edsall knows firsthand the danger that Pierce presents (he gauged UConn for 169 yards and 2 TD’s last year). So it’s very simple. If you can’t count 7 people in box for Maryland on almost every defensive possession, Todd Bradford is pulling a George Costanza and trying to get fired.
2) Block the big guy:
When you hear Temple University football, the words “pro factory” may not immediately jump to your mind, mainly because it’s not. However, Temple does have a pretty good recent history producing solid defensive linemen (Raheem Brock, Terrance Knighton, and Muhammad Wilkerson are all contributing starters in the NFL). Well, the next in line is DE Adrian Robinson, and he should be commanding double teams most of the day. He’s managed to make an impact in every game he’s played, whether it was his 2 sacks against Akron, or his four tackles and a blocked field goal against Penn State.
Last week Maryland rendered explosive pass rusher Bruce Irvin almost completely irrelevant (1 TFL, 0 sacks), and that was while also having to worry about his book-end Julian Miller. The rest of Temple’s line is relatively inexperienced, so look for whoever is blocking Robinson to receive plenty of help in the form of double teams or chips from backs or tight ends.
Finish what you started.
At this point, Maryland has proved they can move the ball at will against high-level defenses like West Virginia and Miami. What they haven’t proved is that they can make sure the ball gets to pay dirt. The first week was a borderline complete disaster: Maryland was in the red zone 7 different times, and only came away with a touchdown once. The play calling got strangely conservative after O’Brien’s pick, and it almost cost them the game.
Last week, it was much better, mainly due to West Virginia’s complete inability to stop the run, and DJ Adams and Davin Meggett just bowling over defenders at the point of attack. O’Brien is facing the least talented pass defense he has all year, so expect what could be his best performance of the year. This team just needs to make sure that their long drives don’t end with a disappointing Nick Ferrara cameo.
Prediction: Temple is pretty good, but after what I’ve seen in the first two games, there’s no reason this shouldn’t be a win. Because they now have two weeks of tape to look at, Temple’s defense may originally create some problems for the Terps. But even if the first quarter is rough, I still expect Maryland to put up a high point total once Gary Crowton counter-adjusts. Maryland keeps Pierce below 80 yards rushing, and pulls away late for a 28-14 win.