Breaking Down the Opponent: Wake Forest

Terps focus on a dynamic rusher, underrated defense.

Coming off an emotional victory on the road, Maryland comes back to College Park in hopes of seizing their sixth win of the season and bowl eligibility. However, a hungry Demon Deacons team stands in their way.

Wake Forest, coming off a bye week, has won their first game back every year since 2006. Their most recent loss to Virginia Tech left a bad taste in their mouth, getting trampled by Virginia Tech 52-21, their fifth consecutive loss.

Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen knows that Wake Forest a dangerous team whose record is not indicative of their talents. Last season, the Demon Deacons’ 500-plus yards of offense scored 42 points on the Terps, as they snatched a win at Byrd Stadium.

Wake Forest is a team notorious for their offensive output. Led by true freshman quarterback Tanner Price and explosive running back Josh Harris, the team averages 356.3 yards of offense per game, good for ninth best in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Harris, a redshirt freshman, showed bursts of potential in the team’s game versus Navy, leading him to earn his first career start Oct. 16 against Virginia Tech. A 241-yard clinic put on against the Hokies defense was the most ever allowed by the team.

“They’re running the ball really well. I don’t know where they got this kid, but he’s sure showing up,” defensive coordinator Don Brown said of Harris. “It’s pretty intimidating when you watch it on tape so we certainly have our hands full.”

At home this season, the Terps have allowed just less than 70 yards on the ground. The key to stopping Harris, according to defensive tackle Joe Vellano, are gap control, pursuit to the ball and solid tackling. He added that the team will be ready, as evident by the ACC’s fourth-best rushing defense.

On the defensive side of the ball, Wake Forest sports a young collection of players that are allowing almost 40 points per game, ranking worst in the conference. Of their five losses, however, three have come against AP Top 25 times, including No. 13 Stanford, No. 16 Florida State and No. 21 Virginia Tech. The offensive flair of those teams: fifth, 21st and 15th, respectively.

“I don’t think their record necessarily shows how good they are. They played a lot of good teams, lost to a lot of good teams, so we’re not taking them lightly,” quarterback Danny O’Brien said.

The Terps offense will have their hands filled with yet another talented defensive end. After facing Da’Quan Bowers and Alex Albrecht in consecutive weeks, the offensive line will now face Kyle Wilber. Wilber has registered five sacks this season, and anchors a talented defensive line.

“They have some undersized guys on the defensive line, but that just means they can move that much better. They’re very active; they can do a lot of stunts, zone pressures, they can mix it up,” O’Brien said.

In addition, starting linebacker Joey Ehrmann and true freshman cornerback Kevin Johnson will be returning to their home states Saturday and are certain to be playing with a purpose. Offensive coordinator James Franklin acknowledged the team will have to contend with the emotions of both Demon Deacons.

“They got two kids on the defensive side of the ball that are Maryland guys. It will be a little extra for them coming home; they’ll be juiced up.”

Ehrmann played his high school football at Gilman (Baltimore), where his father Joe Sr. volunteers as a defensive coordinator. River Hill alum Kevin Johnson was named first team all-state and first team All-met as a cornerback.

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