The Teams: Old Dominion Monarchs (0-1) vs Maryland Terrapins (1-0)
The Site: Byrd Stadium. College Park, Maryland
The Time: 4:00 PM Kickoff
TV, Radio, Internet: ESPNews, ESPN 980 (Radio)
The Coaches: Randy Edsall (7-18, second season at Maryland) and Bobby Wilder (38-10, fourth season at ODU)
While Maryland only has one game under their belt in the 2013 campaign, there’s a lot to like about their season-opening victory over Florida International. Quarterback C.J. Brown showed absolutely no rust and drove the Terps up-and-down the field at ease during the first half of the 43-10 win. Junior college standout Deon Long was sensational as he surpassed the century mark in receiving yards and caught a beautiful 25-yard touchdown pass from Brown. While all the talk was about the offense, Maryland’s defense had a very strong afternoon on the gridiron. Despite not playing a substantial amount during their Terp careers, linebackers Marcus Whitfield and L.A. Goree had a tremendous nose for the football and Whitfield led the team with 10 tackles (and was surrounded by controversy regarding the game ball fiasco).
Key Questions and Storylines
1.) Can Maryland stop Old Dominion’s spread offense? - Old Dominion may be in the CAA, but they sure can put some points up on the board. The Monarchs are fresh off a loss at the hands of East Carolina in their season-opener. The Monarchs torched the Pirates for 38 points, but still ending up losing 52-38.
Old Dominion is led by phenom quarterback Taylor Heinicke, who is notorious for spreading the ball around and throwing a ton. In last week’s loss to East Carolina, Heinicke completed 38 of 51 passes for 338 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 52 yards on 11 carries. Heinicke actually ended up leading the team in rushing, which is a testament to how bad their running game is.
The Terps are going to have to stop the Monarchs high-powered passing attack. Old Dominion is going to line-up with four or five receivers at a time and don’t utilize the tight end much. Actually, the Monarchs only have one tight end on their roster. One of the big factors surrounding this specific storyline is whether or not Maryland cornerback Jeremiah Johnson will play. After the Terps win over FIU, Johnson was spotted in a walking boot in the locker room. Now that could be precautionary measure, but the fact that coach Randy Edsall hasn’t addressed Johnson’s status yet, is a bit concerning. When Old Dominion lines up with at least four wideouts, Maryland will likely counter with Dexter McDougle, possibly Johnson, Issac Goins, and Will Likely. I like the Terps corners but the Monarchs did have three receivers that had at least 70 receiving yards last week. Maryland is going to have to be on its toes for sure.
2.) Can Maryland establish a running game? - This seems to be the million dollar question. Running backs Brandon Ross and Albert Reid combined for 66 yards on 19 carries (3.5 yards-per-carry). Ross, who was named the starter prior to the season opener, only managed 21 yards on 10 carries (2.1 yards-per-carry). On the contrary, Reid totaled 45 yards on nine carries (5.0 yards-per-carry). Freshman Jacquille Veii actually led the team in rushing (minus C.J. Brown of course) with 53 yards on eight carries (6.6 yards-per-carry). That number is a tad misleading because it was accumulated in garbage time with the rest of the second team in the game.
As much as fans would enjoy Brown throwing the ball to Diggs and Long on every play, that simply can’t happen. The Terps need to mix in the run to catch opposing defenses off-guard and set up the play-action pass. Brown had a few very nice play-action passes last week and that play type could be a bigger factor in the offense if Ross or Reid get going. This is the type of game for the Maryland backfield. Obviously, Old Dominion is not a stellar defensive unit. They surrendered 447 yards of total offense and didn’t force any turnovers. The Monarchs are clearly a unit that struggles to get off the field as East Carolina converted 12 of their 17 third downs. If there’s a game for this Maryland running game to break out, it’s this week against Old Dominion.
3.) Can Maryland’s offense keep their strong play going? - It’s certainly going to be hard to duplicate the type of success that the Terps had against FIU last week. However, after looking at the box score of Old Dominion’s loss to East Carolina, it’s abundantly clear that Maryland could have a similar type of game. I’d venture to say maybe an even better one.
There’s no two ways about it: C.J. Brown was sensational last week. He ran the offense to perfection and got it done on the ground as well. He showed every flash of the player that he was nearly two years ago. I would say that it is Diggs’ turn to shine and that the sophomore phenom will light up the Monarch secondary. As Bart Scott would say, Old Dominion doesn’t appear like they could stop a nosebleed at this point. Points will be scored in large quantities by the Terps for the second consecutive week.
The Terrapins will win if:
A.) The defense can slow down Taylor Heinicke
B.) C.J. Brown has another stellar performance
The Terrapins will lose if:
A.) Old Dominion has their way with the Maryland defense and the game turns into a shootout
B.) C.J. Brown turns the football over a few different occasions
Make sure to purchase Maryland football tickets to root on the team this Saturday.