The Final Breakdown

Clemson will close the 2012 season with a three-game home stand. Up first is a showdown with ACC Atlantic rival Maryland.

WHAT: No. 8 Clemson vs. Maryland
WHERE: Memorial Stadim (85,000) - Clemson, S.C.
WHEN: Saturday, Nov. 10 (3:30 p.m.)
SPREAD: Clemson -31

Maryland's record isn't an indication of how good the Terps' defense is. It's a pretty salty bunch, led by defensive tackle Joe Vallano, who's first in the ACC with 14 tackles for loss.

Andre Ellington is expected to play after missing most of the Duke game with a hamstring injury. (Getty Images)
Linebacker Darin Drakeford is also among the ACC's leaders in tackles for loss. He's tied for sixth in the league with 9.5 tackles for loss.

The Terps took a hit earlier this week when it was announced that leading tackler Demetrius Hartsfield went down with a torn ACL. Hartsfield is currently tied for seventh in the ACC with 78 tackles.

Regardless, it's still a solid group. They've held opponents to 110 yards rushing per game, which is 18th in the country.

Aside from the 370-yard output by Georgia Tech last week, opponents have passed the 100-yard mark just three against Maryland.

William & Mary had 104 yards, UConn rushed for 153 and Virginia gained 168. Of the three, UConn was the only team to reach pay dirt.

And, aside from the five touchdowns scored by Georgia Tech, the Terps have given up three rushing touchdowns all season.

That doesn't bode well for Andre Ellington, who tweaked his hamstring on the first play of the game against Duke. Despite missing almost an entire game, Ellington is second in the ACC with 780 yards rushing.

The loss of Hartsfield casts a bit of doubt over the Maryland run defense, but there are plenty of other solid players remaining on that side of the ball. That, coupled with a banged up Ellington gives the advantage to the Terps.


While the Maryland pass defense hasn't been as strong as the run defense, it's still been a very reliable unit. The Terps are 32n in the country in pass efficiency defense with a rating of 118.20. The group has given up an average of 191.56 yards per game, which is 20th.

Even with their success against the pass, Maryland has just three interceptions this season, and one of them was by Vellano.

Tajh Boyd has thrown 10 touchdown passes in his last two games - all in the first half of both matchups. (Roy Philpott)
Up front, Maryland's pass rush has also been pretty good. Nationally, the Terps are tied for 16th with 2.78 sacks per contest.

Vellano and Drakefored are tied for second in the ACC with six sacks. A.J. Francis has chipped in with four sacks.

This matchup will be the key for Saturday's game.

Clemson is 10th in the country in passing offense with 324.5 yards per game and sixth in passing efficiency with a rating of 166.36.

Tajh Boyd, of course, has been the catalyst. He's completed 192 of 283 passes for 2,680 yards with 25 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

His favorite receiver, DeAndre Hopkins, has caught 62 passes for 1,037 yards and 13 touchdowns.

The No. 2 option ain't bad either. Sammy Watkins has hauled in 38 receptions for 501 yards and two scores.

Tight end Brandon Ford, along with Charone Peake and Adam Humphries have all caught over 20 passes this season.

It's a group of pass catchers rivaled only by West Virginia, which hit Maryland up for 338 yards and three touchdowns through the air.

Outside of West Virginia, N.C. State is the only opponent Maryland has played with a legitimate passing game. And the Wolfpack finished with 307 yards and two scores against the Terps last month.

Look for Boyd to have a solid showing, even if there is a little bit of pressure in his face.


This hasn't been a good year for Maryland quarterbacks, far from it.

The demise of the Terps' quarterbacks began when starter C.J. Brown went down with an ACL tear during noncontact drills in August. Up next was true freshman Perry Hills, who tore his ACL in the first half against North Carolina last month. His replacement, Devin Burns, went down with a foot injury against the Tar Heels.

Former linebacker Shawn Petty is now playing quarterback for the Terps and will make his second start of the season Saturday against the Tigers. (Getty Images)
Quarterback No. 4, Caleb Rowe, a true freshman from Blue Ridge High School, tore his ACL against Boston College.

Four quarterbacks, three torn ACLs and a foot injury later, true freshman linebacker Shawn Petty was pressed into action as the Terps' signal caller.

In his college debut against Georgia Tech, Petty completed 9 of 18 passes for 115 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.

Both of Petty's scoring throws were to ultra-talented freshman wide receiver Stefon Diggs, who finished the game with five receptions for 55 yards.

Diggs is the lone bright spot in the Maryland offense, which ranks 94th in the country in passing. He's already emerged as one of the ACC's premier pass catchers. Through nine games, Diggs has caught 43 passes for 721 yards with six touchdowns.

However, Diggs will miss the game due to an ankle injury suffered in practice this week.

Maryland had a nice one-two receiver combination going with Diggs and Marcus Leak, who has 23 receptions for 393 yards and two scores. But Leak, too, went down in the N.C. State game with a broken toe.

The Terps' next best pass catcher is wide receiver Kevin Dorsey, who has 15 catches for 198 yards and a touchdown. Tight end Matt Furstenberg had 104 yards receiving and two touchdowns against Clemson last season, but he's struggled to put match those numbers this season. Furstenberg has 14 catches for 169 yards and a touchdown in nine games this season.

Whoever is playing quarterback for Maryland, chances are he's going to be on the run. The Terps have given up an average of 3.5 sacks per game, which fifth worst in the country.

At times this year, the Clemson secondary has been suspect and the pass rush has been non-existent. But, right now, the Tigers' defense is playing its best ball of the season.

A scholarship linebacker shouldn't be able to beat it from the quarterback spot.


If you thought the passing stats were ugly, wait til you see then rushing stats, where Maryland sits 113th in the country with 97.2 yards per game.

One of the top freshman wide receivers in the country, Maryland's Stefon Diggs, will miss Saturday's game against Clemson with an ankle injury. (Getty Images)
Wes Brown, a talented freshman from Good Counsel High School, leads the Terps' ground game with 382 yards on 90 carries. He's also scored two touchdowns.

However like Diggs, he will miss Saturday's game with an ankle injury.

Justus Picket is second on the team with 141 yards, but is first with three scores.

Though sacks are counted against rushing totals (and there have been a lot of sacks this season), Maryland's rushing totals look pretty bad.

For starters, the Terps haven't scored a rushing touchdown since Oct. 20. The Maryland run game was kept out of the end zone by Boston College and Georgia Tech.

Try this one on for size: Maryland has had just three games where the team netted over 100 yards rushing -- Temple, N.C. State and Georgia Tech.

Maryland will struggle against a Clemson run defense that's shown steady signs of improvement since the Florida State game (excluding the Georgia Tech game).

Clemson has given up 51 yards to Boston College, 199 to Virginia Tech, 51 to Wake Forest and 85 to Duke.

Much of that success against the run can be credited to the improved play by the young defensive tackles and the steady play of weak-side linebacker Jonathan Willard and middle linebacker Spencer Shuey, who was inserted into the starting lineup for the Virginia Tech game, and he hasn't left since.

Clemson' run D will once again improve its average of 172.3 yards allowed.


Diggs has all the makings to develop into the nation's premier return man. The freshman is fourth in the ACC in both punt and kick returns. He's returned 22 punts for 221 yards and 21 kickoffs for 567 yards with a touchdown.

Chandler Catanzaro has missed just one field this season. (Roy Philpott)
But again, he's out Saturday with an injury.

At times this season, Clemson has shown signs of vulnerability in kickoff return defense. The Tigers are 55th in the country, giving up an average of 20.71 yards per return.

As good as Diggs has been in the return game and the kickoff return defense is [33rd nationally], the Maryland punt return defense has been porous. The Terps have allowed 11.8 yards per punt return.

Clemson has an edge in the matchup at place kicker. Chandler Catanzaro is a semifinalist for the Lou Groza Award. Maryland's Brad Craddock, a freshman, is 8 of 14 on field goal attempts.

With the loss of Diggs, Clemson gets the slight edge.


PREDICTION: Clemson 38 Maryland 13 Top Stories