The University of Maryland football team finds their season at a crossroads. At 2-1, after escaping Navy, cruising over Morgan St. and being humbled on the road at West Virginia (in a game few expected them to win), the Terps face a beatable opponent in Florida International. It is a winnable game, but if the Terps were to fall this weekend, the 2010 season could go down the tubes quickly. With FIU and Duke at home in the next two weeks, the Terps need to be at 3wins ( the Morgan win was not against and FBS team) before the heart of the ACC season begins if they have any hope of becoming bowl eligible. FIU is no slouch despite their 0-2 record. Their losses are by 5 to Rutgers and by 7 to Texas A&M. All that is to say that the Terps cannot afford to not come out firing and ready to play their best ball.
An interesting aspect of the game tomorrow will be the health of QB’s Jamar Robinson and Danny O’Brien and how that affects playing time. At this point Maryland still plans to insert O’Brien into the line-up at least one series per half to give him experience and to make Maryland more capable of throwing the ball down field. This strategy did not work well at WVU as O’Brien got rocked in his first series and could not come back into the game. Offensively, Maryland needs to establish some versatility and balance on offense. Despite having talent at RB and WR in players like Da’Rell Scott, Davin Megget, Torrey Smith and Adrian Cannon, Maryland is far to inconsistent along the offensive line to give th QB’s time and the RB’s many holes. And as we have mentioned before the QB’s have struggled when given the chance to make plays in every game but the Morgan game. Another blow to the Terps offensively is the loss of left tackle Justin Gilbert, further exposing a struggling line. I am not sure if they have it in them, but this should be a week that Maryland moves the ball consistently.
I also expect a solid performance on defense from the Terps. Maryland plays a conservative scheme on defense, primarily because they do not have much talent on the defensive line. Without the capability of making disruptive plays up front, the Terps find themselves too exposed in the secondary if they bring too many blitzes. Playing sound does not expose them to giving up many big plays (when not playing WVU), but it also does not allow them to make many big plays on defense either. One thing Maryland needs to work on is tackling. I know lack talent is part of the issue, but Ralph Friedgen’s teams have been consistently poor tacklers after his first 3 years on the job. Fridge has not been able to recruit or coach up players enough to the point where they are reliable tacklers. This was display big time in Morgantown, especially on third down.
I think the Terps can win this one and expect a score in the range of 27-20. If Maryland were to fall, the season could spiral out of control rather quickly with not many clearly winnable games left on the schedule. It will be nice if the Terps can come away with a convincing win in front of an enthusiastic crowd because there are some important guests in the house. Top basketball recruits Nick Faust and Johnny O’Bryant will be making official recruiting visits this weekend. Will this be the chance for the Terps to take steps in the right direction, or will it be the painful last days of the Fridge?