Terps Coming Off Lackluster Effort

The Maryland Terrapins didn't bring their "A-game" Saturday evening against the Eastern Michigan Eagles, but it was enough to pull out a 37-13 victory. What can the Clemson Tigers take away from this contest in preparation for their upcoming game in College Park?

You could easily make the case that the Maryland Terrapins have been one of the biggest thorns in the side of the Clemson Tigers in each of the last two seasons.

In 2001, the Terps handed the Tigers one of their worst losses of the season in a 37-20 pounding in College Park and last season, Maryland again beat the Tigers, this time in Death Valley to the tune of 30-12.

On both occasions, the outcome of the game was decided early in the 3rd quarter, if not before.

In 2003, the Tigers make the trip up to College Park once again to battle a 3-2 Maryland team that is coming off a 37-13 victory over lowly Eastern Michigan.

Once again, the Terps have had another intriguing start to their season.

After suffering a humilating loss to Northern Illinois and then an enormous 35-10 defeat to Florida State, Ralph Friedgen and company have won their last three games and appear to be well on their way to another postseason berth.

Nevertheless, Maryland's road victory over EMU this weekend was anything but impressive, especially when you consider the overall talent level of the opposition.

After all, we are talking about a team that lost by 32 points to the Naval Academy, and a team that notched it's only victory of the season with a 7-point win over East Tennessee State.

The Eagles came into Saturday night's contest ranked dead last in the country in rushing yards per game with 55.

Interestingly enough, EMU was able to run the ball somewhat effectively against a defense that is considered to be one of the most physical in the Atlantic Coast Conference. In fact, EMU junior running back Anthony Sherrell rushed 28 times for 117 yards to help keep the game close through 3 quarters.

"They were knocking us off the ball," Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen told Washington Post reporters after the game. "And we were standing around looking for things instead of playing our responsibility."

The Eagles actually rushed for more than 3 times their average, finishing the game with 158 yards on the ground.

Certainly, one could draw the parallels between EMU, a team that has struggled to run the football with Clemson; a team that has also has failed to truly establish a consistent ground attack this season.

The question is, how did they do it?

Well, the answer lies in two parts really.

One- the Terps simply had a hard time getting up for the game. "It was hard to get up for a game like this," QB Scott McBrien said.

"All week, watching on film, you could see no one was in the stands. You've got to focus on what you've got to accomplish, and that's something we didn't do in the first half."

And two- EMU was patient with their play calling and physical on the line of scrimmage. "They blocked us, and simply continued to knock us off the ball," added Friedgen.

"They never let us get into a situation were we could blitz. The bottom line is they were very physical the first half, and they had a very good game plan, but I thought in the second half our kids came out and played the way they are capable of playing."

Even with a lackluster effort Saturday evening, not much can be taken away from a game against an opponent that came into the contest as a 35-point underdog at home.

However, in one of the more intriguing notes from Saturday's game, former ACC Offensive Player of the Year RB Bruce Perry, re-injured his sprained ankle and ran for just 38 yards on 11 carries.

He also never saw the field in the 2nd half.

It almost goes without saying that Perry is one of the most instrumental players on the Maryland offense, and if he comes into next week's game against the Tigers less than full strength, you can be sure the Clemson defense won't complain.

Even if Perry were unable to go Saturday afternoon, QB Scott McBrien appears to be coming into his own after completing 14-of-19 passes for 252 yards and one rushing TD. He also rushed for 37 yards on four carries and was the main reason the Terps scored on 5 consecutive possessions.

"He's always been key for us," added Friedgen.

The West Virginia transfer was also a key reason for the Terps' success against in Death Valley last year, when he completed 13-of-23 passes for 153 yards and 3 touchdowns.

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