GAME PREVIEW: MD vs. WVU

TurtleSportsReport.com gets you ready for you border battle between Maryland and West Virginia.

West Virginia (2-1) at Maryland (3-0)


Time: 3:30 p.m., M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Md.
TV/Radio: ESPNU, WJZ -105.7 FM
Series: Maryland leads 3-0
Series: This is the 50th meeting, West Virginia leads 26-21-2.
Coaches: Maryland —Randy Edsall (3rd Season 9-18) West Virginia —Dana Holgorsen (3rd Season 19-10)
STORYLINE CENTRAL

  • Air-raid Hits Turbulence — You won't see Geno Smith, Tavon Austin or Steadman Bailey out on the field this season, and the Mountaineers air-raid offense has well… it has hit some turbulence. West Virginia has scored 72 points in its first three games, which wouldn't be all that bad if the Mountaineers weren't, well the Mountaineers. Last season, they scored 69 points in their season-opener, and later in the season scored 70 points against Baylor. Turnovers (six already this season) have been a problem and a big reason why WVU isn't putting up more points. Maryland already has six picks this season and will look to add to that number on Saturday.


  • Corners Not Back — When Dana Holgorsen's air-raid offense comes to town on Saturday, Maryland will be without its two top cornerbacks. Junior Jeremiah Johnson is still recovering from a fractured toe and senior Dexter McDougle suffered a season-ending shoulder surgery last week against Connecticut. Expect the Mountaineers to test the Terps corners, Will Likely and Isaac Goins, early and often. This could play out to Maryland's advantage because there is not much of a drop off from, Johnson and McDougle to Likely and Goins. If the Terps pass rush continues to be successful on Saturday, Childress could be in a hurry to get rid of the ball.


  • 1-2 Punch Stefon Diggs and Deon Long combine for more than Maryland's average of 292.3 passing yards per game. Diggs already has three touchdowns this season, but if West Virginia's defense focuses on stopping No. 1 they could get burned on the Long ball (couldn't resist).


  • Long Awaited Return — A Baltimore-native, Deon Long verbally committed to West Virginia before graduating from Dunbar (Baltimore, Md.) back in 2009, he spent the following season at Hargrave Military Academy before enrolling at West Virginia in January of 2010. After just three months, Long said requested his release to transfer. The Mountaineer's staff was less-than thrilled about losing Long, and restricted him from transferring to a number of colleges, including Maryland. The next stop on Long's journey was New Mexico, where he played for Maryland's current offensive coordinator Mike Locksley, who was the Aggies head coach at the time. When Locksley was fired, Long left for Iowa Western Community College where he rewrote the NJCAA record book. Locksley and Long finally reunited at Maryland last spring and now the Dunbar graduate returns to the place where it all began, Baltimore. If that isn't incentive for Long to have a big day, I don't know what is. Diggs has three touchdowns this season and after a score in his debut, Long has not had another catch in the end zone. Just a hunch, but I could see that changing Saturday.


  • Defense Stepping Up— While West Virginia's offense was registering video game-like scores last season, the defense was also giving up videogame-like points. Under new coordinator Keith Patterson the Mountaineers defense has made significant strides. Through three games, West Virginia's defense has not allowed more then 17 points a welcome chance to the 20-plus teams were regularly putting up against the Mountaineers last season. Maryland is the strongest passing team that West Virginia has faced this season, and Patterson implied he may have some tricks up his sleeves. Don't be fooled by the gaudy numbers the offense has been putting up, the Terps offensive line is not too far removed from giving up 39 sacks last season. Expect Patterson so throw some exotic pressure packages out to test the O-line.

  • Super SMASH Bros — Maryland leads the nation in sacks (15) behind the Marcus Whitfield's FBS-best 4.5 sacks. Holgorsen's air-raid offense could leave the Mountaineer's vulnerable to the Terps explosive pass rush. It's simple math, more wide outs on the line of scrimmage takes away blockers, creating holes that defensive players, like Marcus wHITfield, drool over. The Terps first three opponents were far from stiff competition, so the wild card here is: are Maryland ‘s defensive numbers skewed? Now that the film is out, will West Virginia be able to stop the rush? Unfortunately, I have no crystal ball you will have to wait until Saturday for the answer.

What's at Stake?

    ALOT— Randy Edsall and his team tried to down play the importance of Saturday's game all week, but a win Saturday would be a huge step for Randy Edsall and the program. Maryland has lost seven-straight in its series against West Virginia, and a win on Saturday would give meaning to the Terps' undefeated record.It would also be a huge confidence boost heading into a tough road game next week down in Tallahassee (Fla.). The impact of a Terps win on Saturday could also stretch far beyond this season. A number of top prospects will be in attendance and a win over West Virginia would go a long way. Add in a crowd of over 50,000, a national audience, and additional eyes watching to see the Terps unveil their new "Maryland Pride 2.0" uniforms LeBron James tweet 2.0 perhaps?)…yeah I'd say this one is pretty important.

    Terps win if…

    They Don't Beat Themselves AND Rattle Childress— Two things here. The Terps can't afford to shoot themselves in the foot like they did against UConn, they must limit turnovers and focus on the fundamentals. Maryland won't be able to get away with bobbled balls, dropped passes, or poor tackling this week. The second key is the pass rush. The Terps must hit WVU's young quarterback early and often, and keep him feeling uncomfortable. If Childress feels rattled, it will take some of the pressure off of Maryland's secondary.
    Mountaineers win if…

    Childress Stays Calm Under Pressure — Childress remains poised under pressure. This is only Ford Childress' second collegiate game as a starter, and the Terps will be a much tougher test than Georgia State. The stage will be big on Saturday, so will Maryland's defense, how Childress handles the pressure will be key to the Mountaineers success. The Terps won't have the numbers to rotate defensively like they did against ODU so if Childress starts carving up the defense it could be a long day for the Terps.

    Prediction


    Maryland- 45 WVU- 27

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