Defensive end DaQuan 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, Scout.com rated Bowers the top defensive end in all the land. Today, hes 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.
Its no wonder why the Terps are concerned.
[Defensive end DeQuan] Bowers will probably be a number one draft pick. Hes 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 Clemsons 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.
Theyve got to keep competing. Its not going to be pretty at times. As long as they keep working at it, theyll 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, theres 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. Theres 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] arent bad either, so pick your poison.
Clemsons defensive line is the ACCs 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.