Tougher than advertised

CLEMSON - The national statistic rankings don't necessarily tell the story that Brent Venables sees when he takes a look at Maryland.

Despite the Terps' ranking as the second worst offense in the country, Venables noted a few reasons to be concerned.

For starters, offensive coordinator Mike Locksley has a few nice skill players, namely wide receiver Stefon Diggs and running back Wes Brown.

Diggs, the No. 2 wide receiver in the class of 2012, has 43 receptions for 721 yards with six touchdowns.

Brown, a four-star in 2012, leads Maryland with 382 yards rushing.

"I know Wes Brown and Stefon Diggs very well. I recruited them, prior to coming to Clemson. They're very good football players," Venables said. "Wes is a big, strong running back that plays with a great pad lean and Stefon Diggs is like our freaks we've got on offense.

"He's that level of player, highly skilled, terrific ball skills. You just throw it within a few yards of him. He can make some big time plays. He's got a lot of speed and fabulous leaping ability."

Fortunately for Venables, the quarterback situation at Maryland is far from ideal.

Starter C.J. Brown, who torched Clemson a season ago, went down with an ACL tear during noncontact drills in August.

Up next was true freshman Perry Hills. He went down with an ACL tear in the first half against North Carolina last month. His replacement, Devin Burns, went down with a foot injury later on in that same game.

Quarterback No. 4, Caleb Rowe, a true freshman from Blue Ridge High School, tore his ACL against Boston College.

Freshman linebacker Shawn Petty has been pressed into duty under center. In last week's start against Georgia Tech, he completed 9 of 18 passes for 115 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.

"I thought [Petty] really gave them a chance to execute what they wanted him to do. I know what facing that option is like," Venables said. "It's hard to get the ball and have opportunities to score. [Georgia Tech] really force you to maximize the opportunities that you have. I don't think that was really indicative, the final score, of where they really are.

"They're facing difficult circumstances, to say the least. It was really windy, so it was hard to gauge what kind of accuracy he has, but you can see he's a big, strong athlete that can throw the ball. He didn't seem to get overwhelmed with anything."

Keeping in mind what the Terps' have going on at quarterback, Venables is concerned with the lack of film to study.

"We don't know the different things they're going to do, run and pass. You just don't know," Venables said. "It's a lot more difficult than you would think, in the preparation. They just don't have a lot of DNA to go by. We just have to really focus on us and making sure that we're fundamentally sound." Top Stories