Every Thursday at AllHoosiers.com we will have a scouting report on the team that Indiana will face that week in the form of a Q&A with a beat writer from that team.
For Saturday’s Big Ten opener at home with Maryland , Dave Lomonico of Scout.com’s Terrapin Times has graciously accepted my invitation to talk about the Terps by answering the following five questions.
Here is our fourth Scouting the Opponent Q&A with an opposing beat writer.
1. Indiana fans know very little about Maryland. What can you tell us about the basic things the Terps like to do? Are they a spread team, do they run a 4-3, etc... When you think of Maryland football what immediately comes to mind?
LOMONICO: “Offensively, Maryland runs a zone-read with spread elements, and sixth-year quarterback C.J. Brown's greatest asset remains his feet (see his 162 yards rushing vs. West Virginia two weeks ago). But it's his arm that has been the problem for most of the season thus far, as his accuracy has been at an all-time low and he has yet to truly look comfortable in the pocket with his reads and progressions. Nor have the Terps got their ground game going, as starter Brandon Ross has a combined six yards in the last two games. But Brown and Ross did hook up on Maryland's biggest play of the season, which helped jump-start the offense some at Syracuse, a first quarter screen pass Ross took 90 yards to the house to finally give the offense some early confidence.
“Defensively, they run a 3-4 attacking scheme under DC Brian Stewart, but they have had their share of troubles this season, an already injury-ravaged unit giving up nearly 700 yards to West Virginia and almost 600 to Syracuse. The linebacker corps has been the most hit, while they lost their top defensive lineman, end Quinton Jefferson, last week for the season due to a knee injury. It has been that kind of year for Maryland, which is already going 3-4 deep at the LB spot just four games in.’’
2. Kevin Wilson joked this week that C.J. Brown has been at Maryland so long that he thinks he took over from Boomer. Talk about Brown though and what makes him such a dynamic quarterback? Is he a threat to run pretty much any time?
LOMONICO: “Brown is very dynamic when the Terps are running the zone read, and especially the read option to backs like sophomore Wes Brown. C.J. Brown is a heady guy, usually very adept at managing the offense, getting the Terps into their plays and making the right decisions downfield. But for whatever reason this season, Brown appears to be thinking too much and stagnating in the pass game, especially the deep game, where he has missed targets all season. Otherwise, he is a great leader on and off the field, can easily post 100-yard rushing games....now if only his passing game can catch up with the rest this fall.’’
3. When we hear about Maryland we hear how athletic this team is. Talk about Stefon Diggs and the other really athletic players IU fans should watch for?
LOMONICO: “True, Maryland came into the season with one of the nation's best receiver corps. Both Stefon Diggs and Deon Long are the household names, while Marcus Leak, back from a year hiatus, has proven the best touchdown threat this fall as Diggs and Long have been a bit slower out of the blocks. Speaking of which, both have had to become better blockers, which was seen at Syracuse as they sprung long runs. But Maryland, in the first week, lost its two speediest receivers, brothers Levern (suspension) and Taivon (knee injury) Jacobs for the entire season, which was a big blow. They had to move running back Jacquille Veii to receiver, and the shifty Veii caught a big TD pass versus West Virginia. So Maryland has some great options, but they, too, are still looking to get on the same page with C.J. Brown.’’
4. How hyped do you expect Maryland to be for its first Big Ten game, or is it that big of a deal to the players? It's not like they're moving up from a smaller conference or anything. Is the Big Ten a big deal?
LOMONICO: “I think, right now, Maryland is more concerned with taking care of their own house than the Big Ten opening game, etc. Still trying to find an identity on offense, and trying to get enough players healthy on defense, the Terps seem most focused on trying to heal and improve week to week, as it has been kind of feast or famine for both groups so far. One silver lining is special teams, which under coach Andre Powell (an IU grad) has thrived their best in the Edsall era. Each week the unit has come through with big plays, including three punt blocks so far.’’
5. We always ask the opposing expert for a prediction of Saturday's game? How do you see the outcome?
LOMONICO: “Well, it's going to be like the West Virginia game, I feel, a war of attrition, with whoever can outscore the other in the end as both defenses need work. Maryland has to sustain longer drives, not just rely on a few big plays here or there, and get off the field more on third down on defense. The Terps haven't proven they can stop the run much, but I think they have a little 'mojo' going right now and may come out of this scorefest with a 37-34 victory.’’
Again, thanks to Dave Lomonico for sharing his expertise today with us at AllHoosiers.com.