Maryland uses a zone-read offensive system. The quarterback has not been running as much this season. The Terps have utilized a balanced approach, mixing the pass and the run.
C.J. Brown is a mobile quarterback who gave Syracuse a little bit of trouble last season with his legs. In the first two games, he did not run very much but followed that with an 18-carry performance against West Virginia.
Brown has an average arm and struggles to be consistently accurate. He has talented receivers, but struggles to get them the ball with opportunities to make plays.
Maryland uses a three running back committed to tote the rock. Brandon Ross usually starts, but has fumbled multiple times this season which has put him in the dog house. Albert Reid is a grinder, power back type. He consistently picks up three to five yards per carry, but does not have the speed to break away.
Wes Brown may be the most talented back, but he does not receive consistent playing time. He has the best speed and power combination of any of the backs. If he sees the field against Syracuse, he could really test the linebackers tackling ability.
The Maryland wide receivers are perhaps the team’s most talented group. Stefon Diggs and Deon Long lead the receivers. They are elite talents but have not turned that into major production. Both are skilled, dynamic and have a great combination of speed and strength.
In the slot, Marcus Leak has emerged as the primary option. Leak is a bit smaller than the others but has a lot of talent. He runs good routes and is quick in and out of his breaks.
The tight ends have not been heavily involved in the passing attack yet this season. Andrew Isaacs is the best of the bunch. He performed very well during training camp but has yet to turn that into production on the field.
Freshman Derrick Hayward also gets into the rotation. He looks the part at 6-foot-5 but is still adjusting to the speed of the game.
In the Trenches
Left tackle Michael Dunn is a former walk-on who is now on scholarship. He is a solid tackle who protects the passer well. He can be slow-a-foot at times and be vulnerable to strong edge rushers.
At left guard, Silvano Altamirano gets the nod. He is a junior college transfer who came to the team last season and is startinf for the first time this year. He has struggled to consistently dominate his man and can give up penetration up the middle.
Center Sal Conaboy is the best run blocking lineman up front. He is a cerebral player who is the glue for the front five. Not a spectacular player, but gets the job done. Similar to Macky MacPherson for the Orange in prior years.
Right guard Andrew Zeller is another inconsistent player. He is a better run blocker than pass protector. As a straight ahead blocker, he is solid. But he struggles when pulling or moving backwards in pass protection.
The right tackle is Ryan Doyle who has slow feet. He is strong, has given up a lot of sacks to quicker defensive linemen or pass rushing linebackers. This may be where the Orange attack with their pressure packages.
The Maryland defense is a 3-4 base scheme. They base everything on gap control and disciplined play. They want to control tempo by staying at home and forcing the offense into mistakes.
In the Trenches
Defensive end Andre Monroe is the best defensive player on the Terrapins. He is an undersized guy who overachieves because of his extremely high motor. A very smart player who scraps and claws to produce every game. He sets the edge for the Terps defense to funnel everything back to the middle.
Defensive end Quinton Jefferson rounds out the starting rotation. He is another high effort guy who is solid against both the run and pass.
Providing depth is end Spencer Myers. Myers is an all-American wrestler who is very strong and uses his hands well.
The Back Seven
The starting outside linebackers are Matt Robinson and Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil. Robinson is a former safety who covers well and rushes the passer with solid speed off the edge. He frequently matches up with tight ends and running backs in the flat.
Cudjoe-Virgill is a pass rushing specialist who puts a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. He has good burst and quick first step.
The inside linebackers are Cole Farrand and L.A. Goree. Goree is the leading tackler and has more speed of the inside backers. He plays better sideline to sideline and can cover a lot of ground.
Farrand is more of a traditional MIKE linebacker who plays well down hill. He is a bigger linebacker without as much speed as others on the roster. If you can get him moving laterally, he is at a disadvantage.
Will Likely is the top corner and leads the secondary. He is feisty and plays very physical football. A true lockdown type with a lot of speed. He is the most consistent player in the Terps’ defensive backfield.
The other corner is Alvin Hill. He is a bigger corner who is physical and has good ball skills. He won the job over a senior. Jeremiah Johnson provides cornerback depth. He is a former starter who plays in nickel packages.
Nixon is smaller but is very aggressive. A solid player who isn’t great at any one thing, but does a lot of things well. He keeps things in front of him and rarely gets beat over the top.
Brad Craddock is the kicker and is one of the best in the nation. He is nearly automatic and has a very strong leg with supreme accuracy. Punter Nathan Renfro is very inconsistent. Has a tendency to shank punts.
The returners are big threats. Will Likely is the punt returner who took one to the house last week against West Virginia. He has speed and is very elusive. Sets up his blocks well. Stefon Diggs is the kick returner and is another dynamic speed guy who is tough to bring down in space.
This will be Syracuse’s biggest test of the season to this point. If the Orange play as well as they did against Central Michigan, this game is definitely winnable. Syracuse was able to beat Maryland last season at their place, but the Terps have more offensive weapons this year. The defense is largely the same, and quarterback C.J. Brown is inconsistent. It should be a fun one on Saturday.