What: Maryland tries to go 2-0 and win the unofficial state championship against FCS squad Morgan State.
Where: Byrd Stadium, College Park, MD
Where to Watch: ESPN3....think that's it. Add other links if you got 'em.
In a Turtleshell:
Maryland Offense vs. Morgan State Defense: Well, there's some talent on this defense. Darren McKhan starts at CB, and was All-MEAC last year; across from him is former FBS player Niko Scott, who transferred from Syracuse. The front line is pretty good, too: three DL starters return from last year, including sack leader Sheldon Jacques and another former Cuse player, Zary Stewart. At linebacker, though, the Bears are replacing all three starters from last year.
Ultimately, though, it boils down to this: Maryland will have more talent and athleticism across the board. Look, it's an FCS program that barely got by Bowie St. Granted, they kept Bowie St. to 7 points, but Bowie's starting QB happened to be ejected in the second quarter. There's not a lot of analysis to do: they looked okay against BSU, but Maryland shouldn't have a problem.
Here's the really good news: I couldn't really think of a better "cupcake" to play than Morgan State. We know Maryland can run the ball to win games. What we're not sure is if they can pass. With two solid CBs - one that could probably be a #2 on an FBS program and another that used to be one - they should provide enough of a challenge on the edge to be realistic, but not too much of one. Don't be surprised to see a lot of passing in an attempt to get some rhythm.
Morgan State Offense vs. Maryland Defense: Morgan's offense isn't nearly as developed as its defense. They're replacing the starting QB, RB, and LT from last year, and it showed in their opener against Bowie State. They failed to produce a TD, scoring 14 through four field goals and a safety. Seriously, think about it: they couldn't get in the end zone against Bowie St.; I'd hope that a shutout would be a possibility for Maryland.
At quarterback is Donovan Dickerson, a dual-threat-y QB that hasn't performed well in his limited playing time. He passed for just 109 yards in 32 attempts against Bowie State and didn't run the ball at all. In fact, don't be surprised to see Delonte Williams (aka "Smoke", apparently) get some time; he's a redshirt freshman that pushed Dickerson in practice.
The most talented position on the field for the Bears is probably at RB, where Jourdan Brooks was the #2 back at Rutgers last year. He transferred from Rutgers to Morgan State, presumably to play Maryland for a second straight year (actually, probably to be closer to home); a serious contributor for a high-major football team is a rare commodity for an FCS team. Then again, Brooks was never all that successful at Rutgers, and that's continued at Morgan State; he ran for just 62 yards on 27 carries. Not good at all.
Keys in Cliches:
- Contain Brooks. The most experienced, talented player for the Bears is Brooks, who saw some serious time for Rutgers last year early in the season. He's not the most intimidating player in the world stats-wise, but if any player is liable to have a big game, it's him.
- Pass the ball. Like I said above, Morgan actually has a decent secondary. They'll be a nice test to see if Maryland's passing game really is that bad, because we'll need to find out soon.
- Take care of business. Honestly, this game shouldn't be close. If it is, that's because Ralph Friedgen didn't do his job or the Terrapins came out flat. Do what needs to be done, and there shouldn't be a problem.
Players to Watch For:
- Donovan Dickerson, QB, Morgan State: Can he bounce back to potentially save his job? Dickerson needs to look at least decent, or #2 Delonte Williams may get a shot.
- Niko Scott, CB, Morgan State: Maryland's QBs looked mistake-prone last week. If they do again, Scott - who started for three years for Syracuse - may take advantage.
- Jamarr Robinson, QB, Maryland: The job is still Robinson's to lose. He can pass against Morgan State; he just needs to show it and at least quiet the brewing QB controversy.
- Joe Vellano, DT, Maryland: Is Vellano for real? A great performance against Morgan State won't be validation, but it'll be a step in the right direction.
Prediction: Maryland does what it's supposed to and comes out gunning. Robinson impresses with his arm after last week and hits at least one big throw to Torrey Smith. The score gets out of hand, so Danny O'Brien comes out in the second half and looks just as good, doing little to put the controversy to rest. The defense doesn't shut out Morgan State, who gets a few field goals, but look good nonetheless. Maryland 38-9.