With Maryland set to take on West Virginia today, here are a few predictions for today's game against the rival Mountaineers.
Special teams will shine again
We haven't really touched much on Maryland's great special teams play so far this season. Junior kicker Brad Craddock has been fantastic this season, converting 10/10 extra point attempts, both field goal attempts, and has had eight touch backs on 14 kickoff attempts.
Punter Nathan Renfro is averaging just under 40 yards per punt in his 10 attempts this season, including two of 50 or more yards and five inside the twenty yard line.
Against South Florida, Maryland blocked a punt and recovered the ball in the endzone for what ended up being the game winning touchdown.
Expect the special teams folks to shine again against WVU, perhaps a big punt or kickoff return for a touchdown? A game winning field goal maybe?
The defense will pass their first real test of the season
Two weeks into the season, it's difficult to tell just how good Maryland's defense truly is this season. They've played two teams whom are both horrible on the offensive side of the ball, so despite surrendering just 24 total points in their first two games, the Terps haven't yet been tested. That should change on Saturday.
Despite shutting out WVU last year at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, West Virginia's offense should be much better this season, led by quarterback Clint Trickett. So far this season, Trickett has completed just over 75% of his passes while tossing three touchdowns and no interceptions. As we noted in our West Virginia preview, Trickett accomplished a lot against a very good Alabama team to start the season, so his numbers aren't really being inflated by playing inferior opponents.
West Virginia should be the best offensive opponent Maryland has faced to date. The Terps did a great job last week of slowing down or stopping USF's offense, especially after Maryland repeatedly turned the ball over, If the offense can limit turnovers and allow the defense to catch their breath, they will once again shine through. possibly scoring their first touchdown of the season.
The return of the run game
When you turn the ball over six times during a game, your offense just isn't having a good day at the office, especially when it comes to running the ball. Things tend to steamroll out of control, the fumble bug spreads, and it makes it really difficult to win a game. Last week against USF, Maryland was able to prevail, despite those turnovers. But if Maryland wants to win against West Virginia, they'll obviously need to limit those turnovers, which should allow them to get back to running the ball.
Running the ball is something Maryland has done well this year, including quarterback C.J. Brown, who seems most comfortable when running the zone read or the option. Against West Virginia, Maryland should able to establish the run, which in turn will help with setting up their passing game. The Mountaineers have had some trouble stopping the run this year, so hopefully Maryland's running back depth can help to tire out the West Virginia defense and allow the Terps to keep West Virginia's offense off the field.
Look for Wes Brown to have a big game and for C.J. Brown to use his legs more to help Maryland move the ball down the field.