Maryland is already 5-1 on the season, but was fortunate to edge out Virginia 27-26 as a result of a missed 42-yard field goal with 10 seconds remaining by Virginia's kicker Alec Vozenilek. Nevertheless they are 5-1, although their one loss was a 63-0 demolition by the #5 nationally ranked Florida State Seminoles.
Maryland is led by quarterback C.J. Brown who was sensational during the first half of the season before suffering a concussion in the Florida State game on October 5th. Brown missed last week's contest against Virginia, but he has been cleared to practice and is currently listed as the starter on the team's depth chart. In his 4.5 games so far this season Brown has already accumulated 1,411 yards of total offense (1,125 passing, 286 rushing). Brown averaged nearly 6 yards/rush despite sacks being counted against his rushing average. In limited action against Wake Forest in 2011, Brown still managed to rush for 111 yards. Our linebackers have to be prepared at all times for Brown to tuck and run. At this point I expect Brown to start as he's been cleared to play, but it's worth noting that he was listed as the team's starter last week and Caleb Rowe played quarterback instead.
This year's passing attack has arguably been Maryland's best in more than 30 years. This year Maryland is averaging 15.58 yards/reception (9th nationally), which no Maryland team has done since 1980. A big reason for that is sensational sophomore Stefon Diggs. Diggs is averaging 20 yards/catch, which places him 3rd in the ACC. Diggs is a former 5-star top 10 recruit who could have gone anywhere in the country. Diggs is by far Randy Edsall's biggest recruiting win and is a threat to take it to the crib anytime he touches the ball. It's safe to say he'll be playing on Sundays. Opposite of Diggs is transfer Deon Long. Long played for New Mexico in 2011, where he amassed more than 800 receiving yards and averaged more than 17 yards/catch. In 2012 Long played for Iowa Western where his stats were video game-esque. Long had a whopping 100 receptions, 1,626 receiving yards and 25 touchdowns in just 12 games. Wake Forest's secondary of Merrill Noel, Kevin "no flight zone" Johnson, A.J. Marshall, and Ryan Janvion had better be prepared.
On the defensive side of the ball Maryland runs 3-4, which should look familiar to Wake Forest fans and the Wake Forest offense as that's what Wake's base defensive formation is. Maryland's 3-4 is more traditional in that it features a nose tackle in Darius Kilgo who is 6-3, 310 pounds. Compare that to our nose guard, Nikita Whitlock, who is 5-11, 250 pounds.
L.A. Goree is a starting inside linebacker for the Terrapins and he is a tackle machine. Last week Goree recorded 16 tackles against Virginia and was named the ACC's linebackers of the week. Maryland will be without starting linebacker Matt Robinson. Robinson has 31 tackles so far on the year. The linebacking unit along with their front 3 are a big reason why Maryland is 32nd nationally in rush defense, only surrendering 136.5 yards/game on the ground.
Maryland has an inexperienced secondary that features two sophomore safeties and a freshman corner in Will Likely. Although Maryland ranks 62nd nationally in pass defense, giving up just 225.8 yards per game, they allowed woeful Connecticut to pass for 349 yards. Florida State passed for 431 yards and Virginia managed to throw for 263 yards. Maryland's defensive passing statistics are inflated because Florida International only threw for 80 yards and West Virginia somehow only had 62 passing yards. If Wake Forest can utilize the short passing game like they did against North Carolina State, then Michael Campanaro could have a big day against his home state team and they could keep Maryland's potent offense on the sidelines.
Maryland opened up as a 7 point favorite, but the line is down as low as 5.5 in some places. Maryland appeared to be world beaters in their first four games of the season, but their past two games have to give Wake Forest fans at least some optimism. Limiting big plays from Stefon Diggs and Deon Long as well as containing C.J. Brown in the pocket are absolutely imperative for Wake Forest to emerge victorious. Ultimately I believe Maryland has just too much offense for the Deacs. I'll take Maryland to emerge with the win, 27-20.
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The game is scheduled for 3:30 and can be seen on ESPNU.