The University of Maryland renews a border state rivalry in Morgantown on Saturday, taking on the Mountaineers of West Virginia. Early in coach Ralph Friedgen’s tenure, West Virginia was the Terp’s whipping boy falling in the teams first four match-ups. In many ways Maryland’s fall from respectability has coincided with the “Neers ascension under former coach Rich Rodriguez. WVU has turned the table on the Terps winning the last four games, most in decisive fashion. Maryland has a difficult task facing West Virginia on the road. The Mountaineers have not played as wel as some expected, especially in their overtime win at Marshall, but they will push the Terps with superior personell going along with their varied rushing attack.
As if facing an out of conference rival in a passionate series on the road were not enough, Maryland also enters this game with a brewing QB controversy. Coach Friedgen may deny there is any controversy surrounding starter Jamar Robinson and back-up Danny O’Brien, but the groans will grow louder until Robinson proves capable of throwing the ball effectively. Robinson has done well leading the Terps option running attack, something O’Brien cannot do as well. The problem is that the Terps are upon the part of their schedule when defenses need to be forced to defend both the run and the pass. West Virginia will completely sell out to stopping Maryland’s running attack until Robinson proves he can stretch the field through the air. O’Brien, who looked good against Morgan St., may be the player the Terps need to keep WVU honest. The problem is most BSR readers could find open receivers in the Morgan St. secondary. Would O’Brien be as effective throwing against a talented WVU secondary? WVU may be missing a key piece of it’s secondary in defensive back Brandon Hogan. Even without Hogan and LB Pat Lazear, I don’t see the Terps being able to move the ball consistently against WVU. Maryland, after all, struggled to move the ball against Navy after they took away the Terps running game.
Defensively, Maryland will be facing a WVU offense that is not your older brother’s Mountaineer offense. WVU still features a dynamic running back in Noel Devine, but their QB Geno Smith is a pass first guy unlike his predecessor’s who were dual threats. In my opinion, the Terps would be better served taking away WVU’s running game and trying to force Smith to beat them with his arm. Devine is too explosive a player to allow him to beat you. The trouble is the Terps do not have the athletes in the front seven to disrupt many good running games. Perhaps the Terps catch a break by getting WVU when they are not really clicking offensively.
I do not have a lot of hope tha tMaryland can waltz into Morgantown and win this game. There is a lot of dislike int his rivalry and WVU will be plenty motivated to pount the Terps. I will be mildly surprised if Maryland can stay within 2 touchdowns of the Mountaineers. Am I overestimating the ‘Neers? Or are you as pessimistic as I am about this game?