Maryland to renew WVU rivalry on Saturday

When Randy Edsall was announced as the head coach of the Maryland football team nine months ago, all people told him was that he has to beat West Virginia.

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. When Randy Edsall was announced as the head coach of the Maryland football team nine months ago, all people told him was that he has to beat West Virginia.

And now, here's his shot.

Maryland football is in search of a true rival. Based on proximity, recruiting wars and a rich series history, the Mountaineers seem to be a prime candidate. The 47 meetings between the teams are most against a non-conference foe in school history. Though Maryland's shortcomings have tarnished the rivalry in recent years.

"I understand the importance with them being a neighboring state, the rivalry that builds," Edsall said during his weekly press conference. "It's something that is very important. Even though they aren't in the ACC, it is a bordering state that has developed a great rivalry."

Saturday's game is more than just a chance to close the gap on the all-time record. Last season, the Terps fell to the Mountaineers on the road, 31-17, a convincing loss that relegated hopes of a conference crown to a mere long shot.

West Virginia held a 21-0 lead at halftime, holding Maryland to their lowest total offensive production (217 yards) and an alarming –10 rushing yards. In contrast, the team allowed the Mountaineers offense to post 469 yards, the fourth-highest total of the season.

"Like the Miami game, it's a team that beat us last year and they're good this year, and we're looking forward to getting some revenge on them," quarterback Danny O'Brien said. "There's a lot of electricity in Gossett right now."

O'Brien likened this week's defense to the Hurricanes' – aggressive and athletic – with the Terps needing to capitalize on their mistakes if and when they are made. The once different, however, is the 3-3-5 stack, the unique defense run at West Virginia.

But scheme should not be a factor, Edsall said, because of the familiarity he and his coaching staff have facing it. At Connecticut, Edsall faced West Virginia the past seven seasons, and offensive coordinator Gary Crowton led LSU past the Mountaineers last year.

"The bigger problem I have is not so much with the 3-3-5 stack, it's the people playing that [3-3-5] stack you need to deal with."

Thus far, the defense has yet to allow an opposing offense to score. In the Mountaineers' first two games, Marshall and Norfolk State have averaged a combined 12.5 points per game and converted just 19 percent of third downs.

And it's only being overshadowed by an offense averaging over 44 points per game, masterminded by first-year head coach Dana Holgorsen. Under the tutelage of Mike Leach and Mike Gundy, Holgorsen established himself as one of the best offensive coaches in the country.

Last year, as offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State, Holgorsen helped the Cowboys to the to No. 1 offense, earning the Broyles Award, which is given to the nation's top assistant.

The up-tempo offensive attack run by Holgorsen is a familiar concept in College Park. This year Crowton implemented a similar approach with the Maryland offense, for which the defense sees on a regular basis.

"The best thing for us is we've being going against it since last spring," Edsall said. "I can't imagine anybody going faster than what we go against in practice."

Holgorsen's main weapons this year are quarterback Geno Smith, an All-Big East performer last year, and Tavon Austin, the Baltimore native who torched the Terps defense for 106 yards and two touchdowns in last year's meetings.

"I think [Smith] was probably one of the best quarterbacks I faced last year," linebacker Demetrius Hartsfield said. "It definitely sticks out on film on how big [Smith and Austin] are to their offense. If we can stop them we definitely set ourselves up for a great win."

Quick hits

  • After being reinstated to the team, Edsall said running back D.J. Adams is in the game plan this week. Adams was suspended for the opener vs. Miami for violating team rules.
  • There is no timetable for a possible Isaiah Ross return. Ross, who underwent surgery on his left leg, will be replaced by the duo of Keith Bowers and Clarence Murphy, the co-starters at defensive end opposite David Mackall."

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