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First Look at Maryland-Wake Forest

Who would've expected this Saturday's game between Maryland and Wake Forest to have any significance before last weekend? No one, that's who.

But, as it would only in the ACC Atlantic, it does have significance; Maryland sits at 1-0 in the conference and is currently leading the Atlantic division. Wake Forest isn't far behind, currently in third place at 1-1. So actually, believe it or not, this game has serious conference implications, as the winner is in a good place to, dare I say, make a run a conference title.

As such, it should probably be taken more serious than Jello Orange. If you actually want to know about Wake Forest, and not just humorously named players (they have a linebacker named Midget, too), here's a good primer: a fifth-year senior QB leads a mostly efficient, passing-based offense, and is backed up by a steady, unspectacular defense.

Riley Skinner seems like he's been around forever...because he has. This is the redshirt senior's fourth year starting, and he (usually) plays like it. That's not to say he isn't mistake-prone, because he's already thrown seven interceptions (even Maryland, the turnover king, has only had five passes intercepted). That said, there is a reason Wake is #22 in passing offense in the country and #21 in passing efficiency, and that's Skinner.

He's flanked by some very talented WRs, namely Marshall Williams, Devon Brown, and Chris Givens. Williams is the big hitter of the bunch, with 26 catches, 401 yards, and 4 TDs. Brown and Givens are more steady, but both are very involved in the Deac's offense, as there's a combined 41 catches between the two.

WF isn't quite as good on the ground, but they are competent (65th in the nation). Their top two backs are Brandon Pendergrass and Josh Adams, neither of whom are having a great year statistically. Without a 76 yard TD run, Pendergrass would barely be above 3 yards per carry, and Adams is hovering just below 4 ypc. That's okay - that's not their M.O. They don't excel at it, but they aren't so bad that you can fully sell out in favor of the pass.

Defensively, they run the standard 4-3 alignment, but they aren't exactly great. As I've already shown, stats don't always tell the whole story, but they're what I got here. The Deacs are 59th in rushing defense and 79th in passing defense, neither of which are impressive. Maryland's already been passing the ball a lot, so expect even more of it without Da'Rel Scott and against a team that seems to struggle against the pass.

Their leading tacklers? A cornerback and a safety. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of coverage prowess. For comparison's sake, Cameron Chism, far from a lockdown corner, is fourth on Maryland in tackles, with exactly half the number of Alex Wujciak (who already has a staggering 52 tackles).

Of course, that might not be the secondary's fault. The defensive line doesn't exactly seem like the best in the world in getting to the QB; they're 94th in sacks and 108th in tackles for loss. Even Champ Bailey can't cover forever. Most likely, the lack of pressure causes eventual coverage breakdowns. If Maryland had to play any team without Bruce Campbell (or with a less than 100% Bruce Campbell), this would probably be the team.

Still, look at their record: they're 3-2 with two quality losses (Baylor with Robert Griffin and BC) and two quality wins (Stanford and NCSt). Maryland's resume isn't nearly that impressive, nor their schedule, so stats can be easily skewed. This is a quality team that can give Maryland trouble.

We'll have more on the upcoming matchup throughout the week, but this should be sufficient for those looking for some preliminary info.