Defending Da'Quan Bowers

Stopping Clemson defensive end Da'Quan Bowers will be the focal point for the Terps.

Stopping him? That may not be a feasible this season. Containing, however, is exactly what the Terps aim to do in their Saturday matchup at Clemson.

Defensive end Da’Quan Bowers, in his junior campaign, is enjoying a career season, putting up out-of-this-world-type numbers. Twenty-nine tackles, six sacks, 11.5 tackles for loss and a forced fumble through five games – that says enough.

As a recruit, rated Bowers the top defensive end in all the land. Today, he’s a prime contender for All-ACC and All-America honors, the Bronko Nagurski Award (best defensive player), Hendricks Award (best defensive end) and Lombardi Award (best lineman or linebacker).

At 6-foot-4, 275 pounds, Bowers provides that uncanny combination of both size and strength. According to ESPN Scouts Inc., his versatility is his best trait. He also received above average grades in terms of pass rush skills and defending the run. His instinct and awareness also are improving as he gains more experience.

It’s no wonder why the Terps are concerned.

“[Defensive end De’Quan] Bowers will probably be a number one draft pick. He’s got the speed and the size; he can run over you or around you, so it will be a challenge for us,” Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen said.

In Clemson’s five games this season, Bowers has recorded a sack in four of them. Regardless of the opponent, he finds a way to make an impact.

Bowers recorded two sacks against North Texas in the Tigers’ opener. As the competition escalated, so did Bowers – nine TFL and a sack against No. 15 Auburn; seven tackles, 3.5 TFL and a sack against No. 16 Miami; two sacks last week against North Carolina.

Throughout the season, Maryland has allowed 10 sacks by their opponents, including eight during their road contest against the West Virginia Mountaineers.

Following their offensive line shuffle, however, the Terps have allowed just one sack in two games. But with a left tackle continuing to adjust to his new role and a freshman starting on the right side, consistency will be crucial.

“They’ve got to keep competing. It’s not going to be pretty at times. As long as they keep working at it, they’ll get better every day,” Friedgen explained.

Clearly, the Terps will have their hands full with Bowers in a matchup of rejuvenated offensive line challenged by a relentless playmaker. But while the team is doing all they can to game plan around him, there’s three more reasons to be concerned.

“You got to know where [Bowers] is. You got to try and help yourself as much as possible,” Friedgen said. “There’s only certain things you can do. You can put yourself in the most advantageous position to block him. What makes it hard is the other [defensive linemen] aren’t bad either, so pick your poison.”

Clemson’s defensive line is the ACC’s fifth most productive unit in terms of sacks. Altogether, they have totaled 10 sacks, 21 quarterback pressures and 21.5 tackles for loss.

This may be the biggest test for the offensive line yet.

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