Maryland plays in their first road game of the season Saturday, traveling to Tampa, Florida to take on the Bulls of South Florida. Here are three predictions for Maryland's first road game of the season.
Maryland's defense will do well
Last week, Maryland's defense did a great job slowing down JMU on offense, holding the Dukes to just one late touchdown. On Saturday, Maryland will face a formidable rusher in freshman Marlon Mack, who ran for 275 yards and four touchdowns last week. But while Mack will likely pick up some decent yardage, USF's passing game Will Likely have trouble passing against Maryland, allowing the defense to zone in on shutting down Mack.
Last week in their win against Western Carolina, USF's starting quarterback, Mike White, completed just 34.6% of his passes, throwing for 181 yards and tossing an interception. That's how you narrowly defeat Western Carolina, despite having a play rush for almost 400 yards and four touchdowns.
Struggling on offense has been a problem for USF since last season. Here's an excerpt from SBNation's stat guru, Bill Connelly, in his preview of the Bulls:roster
The offense only twice averaged even 5.0 yards per play, and while the defense wasn't in any way the problem (and did improve slightly), USF still allowed at least 6.3 yards per play four times and at least 5.0 seven times. USF just never had a chance in 2013. But hey, two wins is better than zero.
Expect the Bulls' offense to continue to struggle through the air, especially as they face a much tougher defense in Maryland this week.
Stefon Diggs will have a big game
We got a few brief flashes of Diggs' amazing abilities last week against JMU, but expect the junior wide receiver to have a great game this week, especially returning the ball on special teams, where he could take one to the house, possibly sparking the Maryland offense in the process.
After getting his legs back under him this past Saturday, his first game action since last season, Diggs just seems poised and ready to go. Or maybe I just really want to see some more highlights like these:
C.J. Brown will have a bounce back passing game
C.J. Brown struggled last week with the passing portion of his game, admitting after Maryland's win that he has to do better moving forward.
"I didn't do too well today in terms of throwing the football," Brown said. "The stats speak for themselves and that's unacceptable."
With USF having decent linebackers who can certainly stop the run better than JMU was able to last week, Maryland might actually need to put the ball in the air more often on Saturday against the Bulls.
C.J.'s biggest strength is his ability to run. He's not going to morph into Peyton Manning when it comes to passing the ball, which is fine. No one should expect him to do that. But he's a better passer than the 111 yard, 11 for 24 performance he gave last week. He's capable of completing close to 60% of his passes and throwing for 200-250 yards most weeks.
Expect Brown to get Diggs and Long more involved in the offense thing week as he bounces back to have a much more complete, balanced game against the Bulls.