Game Capsule

The 25th ranked Clemson Tigers and Maryland square off in College Park, Md. in the ACC opener for both teams on Saturday.

GAME: No. 25 Clemson (1-0, 0-0) at Maryland (1-0, 0-0) 12:00 PM

LOCATION: College Park, Maryland, Byrd Stadium (51,500)

TV: ESPN

RADIO: 104.9 WCCP FM

SPREAD: Maryland by two.

COACHES: Head coach Tommy Bowden is 63-33 overall and 45-29 in his seventh season at Clemson. Bowden is also 5-1 in ACC openers as Clemson's head coach. Ralph Friedgen is 37-14 overall in four seasons at Maryland.

SERIES: Saturday's game marks the 54th meeting between the Terrapins and Tigers. Clemson leads the all-time series -- which began in 1952 -- 28-23-2. Maryland has won three of the last four, two in College Park and one at Clemson, but the Tigers have won nine of the last 12, including last year's game at Clemson.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "A true test is putting a consistent winner on the field. We haven't done that. Once we do that, like FSU, Miami, and Oklahoma the last few years. Our true test right now is we can play for a championship game and win it. A National Championship game. Or winning the division. We need to solve our problems against A&M. That's a true test." -- Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden.

MARYLAND KEY PLAYER: LB D'Qwell Jackson. Jackson recorded 18 total tackles, including four stops on third down last week in Maryland's 23-20 come-from-behind win over Navy.

COVERAGE:
* Friedgen Remarks on Clemson
* LBs Ready for Spotlight
* Roy's Picks: Week No. 2
* Offense Evolving Under Spence
* Tate May Not Play Saturday
* James Davis Confident He'll Start
* New Concerns for Koenning
* What We are Hearing...
* Charlie Whitehurst Audio
* Charles Bennett Audio
* Tye Hill Audio
* Tommy Bowden's Tuesday Press Conference
* Clemson - Maryland Depth Chart
* Status Quo for Now
* Bowden Monday Comments
* Game Notes

WHAT TO WATCH:
Defensive Line - The Terps aren't exactly "explosive" as they continue to break in quarterback Sam Hollenbach, but the running game appears to be doing well with running back Mario Merrills receiving a bulk of the carries. Merrills, a senior, rushed for a career-high 149 yards on 30 carries with one touchdown and a two-point conversion in last weekend's 23-20 win over Navy. Defensively, it will be important for the Tigers to hold their own at the line of scrimmage this week while also getting pressure on Hollenbach. A groin injury to starting defensive tackle Trey Tate doesn't help. Donnell Clark will step in for Tate should he be unable to go and look for Cory Groover to see five times as more snaps this week as he moves into the starting nose guard spot. Surprisingly, Clemson's defensive line held up against Texas A&M's massive offensive front in last weekend's season opening win. Yes, Reggie McNeal had success, as did the A&M offense, but it wasn't a case of the Tigers simply being blown off the ball like many experts predicted.

Passing Game - Clemson rushed for over 180 yards last weekend against Texas A&M. Can the Tigers keep the ball on the ground and continue to win? Chances are, Maryland will key on Clemson's ground game and force Charlie Whitehurst to the air. The Tigers' senior quarterback served more as a game manager last week against A&M as opposed to a playmaker, but if Maryland puts eight in the box and stays in man coverage, Whitehurst will be forced to take chances downfield. How successful he is with those opportunities will determine whether or not the Tigers can put more than 10 points on the board, which was all they could muster last season against the Terps.

Missed Assignments - By most accounts, the Tigers played last week's season opener against Texas A&M with as few major mistakes as any game in recent memory. No turnovers, just a handful of penalties, and excellent play on special teams. However defensively, there were plenty of missed assignments. New coordinator Vic Koenning has done everything in his power during practice this week to try and eliminate those mental mistakes as much as possible, but it won't be any easier against the Terps. Under Ralph Friedgen, Maryland will line up in multiple formations, creating defensive confusion for its opponents. The Tigers' defense was certainly confused at times last week, lining up with just 10 players on the field on a 49-yard run by Reggie McNeal during A&M's final scoring drive of the game.

Mental Approach: Coming off a big win over a ranked team on national television can create the opportunity for a letdown the following week. Last year, Clemson went on the road, upset nationally ranked Miami, and then lost the next week against lowly Duke. Maryland is obviously head and shoulders above the Blue Devils, but will that be enough to keep this team consistently focused? Considering Clemson hasn't won in College Park since 1999, it stands to reason the Tigers understand that Saturday will be anything but a walk in the park.

Freshmen Focus: For eight true freshmen, the past week must seem like a dream. Unfortunately, now comes a crash course in reality: there are 10 more games left on the schedule and it doesn't get any easier the next three weeks. This will be the first road game for players like James Davis, Antonio Clay, and Phillip Merling. How will they respond when 50,000 fans are rooting for them to fail as opposed to 80,000 fans rooting for them to succeed? It sounds simple, but considering several of these players will see significant playing time Saturday, the focus of each and every one becomes an important factor in this football game.


LB D'Qwell Jackson and LB William Kershaw



Head coach Ralph Friedgen



TE Vernon Davis

DON'T FORGET! The Tiger Pre-Game show will be broadcasting Saturday morning from 6 to 9 AM, with the last two hours coming to you live from Byrd Stadium in College Park, Md. Tune in to 104.9 WCCP FM in upstate South Carolina for all the pre-game coverage you can handle, or tune in world wide on wccpfm.com.

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