The Maryland Terrapins football team takes the field for the last time in the 2012 season this afternoon. Its been a rough season for Maryland that was complicated by the injury bug hitting this program in a massive way.
The Terps come into this game square in the midst of a five game losing streak. While bowl eligibility may be out of the question for the Terps they can still play spoiler to UNC and send this senior class out with a win in their last game as Terrapins. As we inch closer to kickoff lets look at this weekend’s keys to victory.
1) Contain Renner Though The Air.
Bryn Renner has blossomed into one of the ACC’s top signal callers this season. The Northern Virginia native (West Springfield HS) has thrown for 3,051 yards and 23 touchdowns coming into today so the Terrapins number one goal needs to be to make him as uncomfortable in the pocket as possible forcing him into tougher throws. Brian Stewart needs to dial up the defensive pressure today getting defenders in Renner’s face early and often. This Tar Heels offense has scored 160 total points in their last four games, Maryland will need to cut that average of 40 PPG in half to have a shot today.
2) Move Those Chains.
Maryland’s offense has been sputtering down the stretch after going against two very competitive defensive units in Clemson and Florida State in back to back weeks. This Tar Heels defense might not be as heralded as those two but it is still more than capable. Since the threat of a big play isn’t necessarily there with Shawn Petty taking snaps the Terps need to focus on picking up first downs and extending drives to eat up clock and give the defense ample time to rest inbetween series.
3) Win The Turnover Battle.
When you’re a program dealing with the amount of harsh blows that this Terrapins team has felt this season you cannot afford to give away possessions. Maryland’s best chance today lies in its ability to do what most teams haven’t been able to all season; force Renner into turnovers. Renner had a TD to INT ratio of 23/7 coming into today so simply saying this and executing it are two vastly different things. Should the front seven get pressure on Renner early and often forcing him to make snap decisions while not get through all his reads anything is possible. Maryland managed to make Geno Smith uncomfortable in the pocket, it’ll take a similar effort today to rattle Bryn Renner.
Its all about effort today. Maryland will need to outwork the Tar Heels to win today as injuries have decimated the talent level on the Terps roster. If Maryland is the aggressor on bothboffenae and defense making timely stops and moving the chains when possessing the ball they have a chance to make this more competitive a game than the last two weekends. Should Petty ard the offense flounder while not taking care of the football again and this one could be over rather quickly. I think we see an inspired effort from the Terps today that falls just short of a victory.
UNC: 24 Maryland: 14