Gator Bowl Game Preview

The Mountaineers travel to Jacksonville looking for their first bowl victory under the direction of Rich Rodriguez. Will the Mountaineers fear the turtle or make turtle soup?






Series: UM 20-19-2
When:1-1-04 ,12:30
Where: Jacksonville
Stadium: Alltel Stadium
Record: 8-4
Rank: 36
Last Game: Temple
Returning Starters: 12
Defense: 8
Offense: 4
Click for Jacksonville, Florida Forecast
Record: 9-3
Rank: 17
Last Game: Wake Forest
Returning Starters: 16
Defense: 9
Offense: 7
Rosters/ Bio's
Press Release
Season Stats
Schedule/Results
First Meeting: 1919
Last Meeting: 2003
Rosters/ Bio's
Press Release
Season Stats
Schedule/Results

Injuries:

WVU - Tim Brown (Achilles) Out, Jahmile Addae (Shoulder) Out, Fred Blueford (Knee) Out, Quincy Wilson (Ankle) Probable, Kay Jay Harris (Hand) Probable.

Maryland - Sam Maldonado (Knee) Out, Ryan Flynn (Knee) Questionable, Latrez Henderson (Groin) Probable, Josh Allen (Ankle) Probable.

Game Outlook:

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Game Info
WVU 8-4, 6-1
UM 9-3, 6-2
Thur: 1-1-04 12:30
Alltel Stadium
Series: UM 20-19-2
TV: NBC
Sagarin: WVU-36 UM-17
Line: Maryland -3
Stats & Trends
WVU offense vs. Terrapins defense

This matchup will be key to the success of the Mountaineers. During the first meeting of these teams the Maryland defense dominated the WVU offense in every category. Rasheed Marshall will need to improve on his 2 for 7 performance for the Blue and Gold to come home Gator Bowl champions.

Leading the Terrapin defense as been all everything linebacker, D'Qwell Jackson. Jackson has racked up 124 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 7.5 tackles for a loss, 2 interceptions and 10 quarterback hurries. Flanking Jackson will be Leon Joe and Leroy Ambush. Along with Jackson, Joe and Ambush has started every game this season and both have been solid contributers. Joe, the teams second leading stopper, and Ambush has combined for 154 tackles, 7.5 of the stops came behind the line of scrimmage.

Starting on the defensive front will be Jamahl Cochran, Randy Starks, C.J. Feldheim and Kevin Eli. This foursome, along with Shawne Merriman, have totaled 255 tackles and 24 sacks.

The defensive backfield have been solid all season, allowing over 300 yards passing only once this season (Clemson). Three of the four backs have started every game this season, while the fouth missed only one start. Cornerbacks Curome Cox and Domonique Foxworth have combined for 17 pass breakups and five interceptions along with 78 tackles. Dennard Wilson and Madieu Williams man the safety positions and have totaled 126 tackles and 17 pass breakups.

By the numbers:
WVU ranks 61st in total offense (379.58 yds/game), 14th in rushing offense (217.25 yds/game) and 104th in passing offense (162.33 yds/game).

Maryland ranks 16th in total defense (314 yds/game), 29th in rushing defense (127.25 yds/game) and 19th in passing efficiency defense (106.42 rating).

Advantage: Even

WVU defense vs. Terrapins offense

Much has been said about the saga of Scott McBrien tranfering from WVU to his home state team but the real story on the first day of the new year will be Bruce Perry and Josh Allen.

Allen has seen more action this season due to continued injury problems with Perry but both have had productive seasons. Allen has totalled 894 yards on 175 attempts, good for an average of 5.1 yards per tote. Perry had similar numbers, playing in three fewer games. The senior has racked up 646 yards on 127 carries, averaging 5.1 yards per rush. The combo has combined for a total of 15 touchdowns.

That being said, McBrien still remains a key cog in Ralph Friedgen's offense. McBrien has completed 152 passes out of 281 attempts with 16 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. The southpaw has racked up 2291 yards passing and has been solid at managing the game plan.

Leading the way for the pass catchers has been Latrez Harrison. The senior leads the team with 38 receptions and 553 yards and 6 touchdowns. Harrison managed 88 yards and a touchdown in the first meeting with the Mountaineers. Joining Harrison in the receiving corp will be the speedy Steve Suter and JoJo Walker. Suter and Walker have combined for 45 catches, 660 yards and 3 touchdowns.

By the numbers:
WVU ranks 65th in total defense (380.42 yds/game), 34th in rushing defense (130.67 yds/game) and 38th in passing efficiency defense (115.65)..

Maryland ranks 34th in total offense (413.33 yds/game), 24th in rushing offense (195.5 yds/game) and 61st in passing (217.83 yds/game).

Advantage: Maryland

WVU special teams vs. Terrapins special teams

By the end of the season both the Mountaineers and Terrapins showed improvement on special teams which contributed to both teams' winning ways.

Handling the place kicking duties for the Terps has been Nick Novak. The Charlottesville, Va native has connected on 22 of 28 field goal attempts and 33-37 PATs. Novak's longest three pointer was 54 yards against Duke. The senior-to-be is a respecable 10-15 from beyond 40 yards.

Punting for Maryland will be Adam Podlesh. Podlesh had a solid season for the Terps, averaging 42.6 yards per punt with his long being 63 yards. The redshirt freshman landed 21 of 51 punts inside the opponents' 20 while avoiding a punt block.

Returning punts and kicks for Maryland will be Steve Suter. The starting wide receiver returned 33 punts for 240 yards, including a touchdown. He also brought back 14 kickoffs, averaging 23.6 yards, ranking him 46th in the nation.

By the numbers:
WVU ranks 74th in net punting (34.78 yds/punt), 18th in kick returns (23.2 yds/return) and 9th in punt returns (13.97 yds/return).

Maryland ranks 24th in net punting (38.29 yds/punt), 21st in kick returns (23.04 yds/return) and 59th in punt returns (9.63 yds/return)

Advantage: WVU

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Picks to Click:

On Offense: Rasheed Marshall

On Defense: Scott Gyorko

Terp Season Facts:

* Maryland was 4-0 this season in day games.

* Maryland showed a 5-3 record on televised games.

* The Terps were 0-1 vs. Top 25 teams.

* The Terrapins were 7-3 when scoring first.

* The Turtles won 6 games against only 2 losses when allowing more than 20 points.

Be sure to check out our Stats & Trends section for lots more matchup information!

Prediction:

Obviously this is an important game for the Mountaineer and Terrapin programs but I believe it is more critical to the Mountaineers for several reasons. The Blue and Gold need a bowl victory in order to improve on their reputation for coming up short in post season play. Rich Rodriguez's first bowl victory and would be further proof that he is one of the best young coaches in the nation. And last but not least, WVU has something to prove to Ralph Friedgen and the Maryland Terps. These are intangible factors that will decide the victor of this New Year's Bowl game.

WVU - 27 Maryland - 24


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