C J Brown suffered a left (non-throwing) arm/wrist injury last week at Indiana and missed the entire second half in a cast on the sideline. But junior Caleb Rowe came in and did not miss a beat, leading Maryland to a lopsided win in its first Big Ten game. Rowe, though he does not possess the running ability as Brown does in Maryland's at-times potent (see Brown's 162-yard rushing effort against West Virginia) zone read attack, has a stronger arm and quicker release than Brown, and in a few appearances this year has been more decisive in the pocket than Brown, who struggled in the first few games with his accuracy as well. Rowe completed 12 of 18 passes for 198 yards and 2 TDs in one half of work at IU and is a guy that reacts and doesn't think too much, something which at times has bogged Brown down. With the sixth-year QB Brown questionable for this week (Randy Edsall is giving no hints until kickoff), Rowe, and his gunslinging ways, has proven reliable in leading the Terps offense. But it may be one that, without Brown, you can expect a lot less zone read and read option.
2. We've heard a lot about Stefon Diggs, but how does Maryland try to get him involved in the attack? Deep balls, screen passes, a little bit of everything?
Stefon Diggs, who was coming off a broken leg injury (same for senior WR Deon Long) suffered last year at Wake Forest, began the season slowly not only as a pass-catcher but also as a route runner and blocker, all of which drew the ire of Randy Edsall. But he had his best effort blocking, as well as receiving (6-112 yards, 1 TD) at IU, not to mention Long did, too, with his 10 catches for 108 yards. The electric playmaker Diggs is also a threat every time he touches the ball on the Terps kick return team, and now it seems he and Long are finally at the top of their games this season after the early struggles. The quick screen game has also seemed to break both out of their slow starts as well. At Maryland, its all about getting the playmakers the ball in space and letting them do their thing (get yards after the catch) for the offense to seemingly hum.
3. Maryland's pass defense stats have been very impressive. Are those legit, and what have been the keys there?
Maryland's defense has brought new meaning to the phrase 'bend but don't break' this season, as they yielded nearly 700 yards to West Virginia and 600 a week later to Syracuse, and while winning the SU game they could have won the WVU contest if not for the offense bogging down in the second half. One of the main problems is Maryland is already going 3-4 deep at linebacker, and every position/starter has been touched by injury so far this season and missed games. When they have had most of their cast back, which was the case against IU with the exception of starting 'Sam' 'backer Matt Robinson, they have played with better fit and gap integrity, as witnessed last week by their limiting IU and nation's leading rusher Tevin Coleman to his worst game of the year. IU had its fewest yards and points of the season, and the Terps D, which also lost starting DE Quinton Jefferson (knee) for the season versus WVU, and starting corner Alvin Hill (knee) for the season a week later vs. SU, well, it keeps keeping on one way or the other for the 4-1 Terps,
4. What have the Terps hung their hat on so far as a team, and what are they going to have to do to be successful in this outing?
While the offense and defense have been up and down and 'AWOL' at times, special teams has been the one constant. Maryland already has a record three punt blocks this season, typically unheard of around College Park, and a big punt return for a score by Will Likely against West Virginia. Best of all, junior place-kicker Brad Craddock, an Aussie import, has truly come into his own, perfect on the season with 10 of 10 field goals and all of his PATs (22) as well. He hit two 48-yarders at IU and his offseason work with former Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl kicker Matt Stover has paid off.
5. What's the vibe of the fan base going into the first home Big Ten game? Does this seem like a big deal to the Maryland faithful?
Well, as of Monday of this week the Terps were still looking to sell out the game, as a few hundred tickets remained which is a bit of a head-scratcher (Ed note: Maryland announced a sellout Thursday morning). Some Maryland fans were nonplussed heading into the first game at IU, but throughout the off-season they have really hung their hats -- and attention -- on two games, this one versus OSU in their Big Ten home opener, and then next month in Happy Valley against dreaded Penn State and former Terps assistant coach James Franklin. So hopefully by game time the stadium is full and Terps fans are treated to a good showing in this historic game.