Game Strategy: Maryland v. Towson

What to look for in the Maryland-Towson game this Saturday

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Saturday marks the first ever meeting between Maryland and Towson, two universities separated by about 40 or so miles.

The Terps, though, a team with ACC championship aspirations, find themselves in a 1-2 hole, one game away from entering conference play. And suddenly, this week becomes a on must-win.

Head coach Randy Edsall made some key modifications to his depth chart this week, accommodating for the return of suspended wide receivers Ronnie Tyler and Quintin McCree and injuries throughout the defense, including safety Matt Robinson who is out for the year.

Robinson was the ACC's second-leading tackler, averaging 12 tackles per game. But a loss in the defensive secondary was far from the Terps' biggest problem on defense.

"We're not big enough up front. Guys are still getting comfortable with what we're doing and the schemes that we're playing," Edsall said. "We haven't tackled well and we haven't executed the way we should have."

Maryland's starting defensive line currently averages 6-2 in height and 270 pounds. In contrast, the past three offensive lines they have faced have weighed in at 6-5, 313 pounds (Miami); 6-4, 303 pounds (West Virginia); and most recently Temple at 6-5, 319 pounds.

Edsall has inserted Maurice Hampton into the defensive tackle spot for the injured Andre Monroe. Hampton weights in just shy of 300 pounds, making him the heaviest player along the defensive line.

The team will need the defensive front seven to play better facing the one-two punch of Towson, featuring Dominique Booker and Terrance West, both of whom are averaging over five yards per carry and have seven touchdowns combined.

Last week, Temple back Bernard Pierce gashed the Terps defense for 149 yards and a school-record five rushing touchdowns. In total, the Owls totaled 305 yards on the ground en route to a devastating 38-7 rout.

"Get back on track. Perfection," Hampton said of his team's mindset heading into Saturday's showdown. "We went to practice Sunday, nobody had any kind of repeats during exercises. Everybody is really trying to stay focused and perfect everything they do, and just do their job."

In the loss, however, Maryland was only able to muster up one score, and it came in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter.

The Tigers have allowed just three touchdowns through three games this season, one on the ground and two via the air. Their defense is allowing just 10 points per game, and their scoring defense ranks first in the FCS.

The soft spot defensively could be their defense against the run. Although opponents have had difficulty finding the end zone, Towson has allowed 409 yards rushing in the past two games. Villanova totaled 181 yards, while Colgate pounded the rock 51 times, resulting in 232 yards and a touchdown.

The Terps could look to take advantage of that with their fast-paced offense, keeping Towson off-balanced and regaining the former the team showed in the opener against Miami and in the second half surge against West Virginia.

"We have to get back to finding our fast-paced tempo," offensive lineman Andrew Gonnella said. "I think we could have played a little bit faster. I think that's something that's going to work out to be our niche but we need to show consistency with that... just show better execution and focus."

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