The Teams: Maryland Terrapins (5-1) at Wake Forest Demon Deacons (3-3)
The Site: BB&T Field at Groves Stadium, Winston-Salem, NC
The Time: 3:30 p.m.
TV, Radio, Internet: ESPNU, ESPN 980 (Radio)
The Coaches: Randy Edsall (11-19, third season at Maryland) and Jim Grobe (76-77, 12th season)
Last Meeting: In 2012, Maryland opened up the ACC at home much like they did this season. Trailing late in the fourth quarter 14-13, the Terps needed a big play. Wide receiver Stefon Diggs provided that in the form of a 63-yard catch-and-run that set up the Terps for the game-winning score. Running back Justus Pickett scored a one-yard touchdown with 5:37 left to give Maryland a narrow 19-14 victory.
Meeting The Opposition: The Demon Deacons are an odd team to try and gauge.
Quarterback Tanner Price is a decent passer that has thrown for nine touchdowns and only three interceptions this far this season. Price is an efficient signal caller as is evident in his 57.8 percent completion percentage. He is coming off a strong performance in which he threw for 268 yards and three touchdowns against a struggling N.C. State squad. Price also has the ability to run the football and surprisingly has more carries than running back Josh Harris. He’s not blinding quick, but will not hesitate to pull it down and run if given the opportunity. Price has 154 yards on 66 carries (2.4 yards-per-carry) in 2013.
As was alluded to above, the Wake Forest running game is extremely strange. Harris is a very talented back, but doesn’t receive the touches that he deserves. The Texas native is a small, shifty back that has the ability to take it to the house on any play. He excels at weaving his way between the tackles, but also has the quickness to get to the outside and find the sticks. Harris has only received double-digit carries in three of Wake Forest’s six games this season. His best game came against Army where he rushed for 96 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
As far as who can single-handedly beat Maryland, look no further than senior wideout Michael Campanaro. Campanaro has similar playmaking ability to that of Stefon Diggs. If you compare the two, the numbers are somewhat similar. On the season, Campanaro has 44 catches for 582 and four touchdowns. Those are pretty remarkable numbers if you take into account that Campanaro missed the game against Presbyterian. On the other hand, Diggs has 26 catches for 520 yards and four touchdowns. Those are pretty remarkable numbers if you take into account that Campanaro missed the game against Presbyterian. On the other hand, Diggs has 26 catches for 520 yards and four touchdowns. Plainly put, Campanaro can take it to the house on any play. He accounts for a significant portion of the Wake Forest offense and will burn Maryland if they’re not careful.
For Wake Forest’s defense, it all starts up front with the defensive line. The Demon Deacons have a stellar line and it starts with senior nose tackle Nikita Whitlock. If you’re looking at the numbers, you would think that Whitlock is a monster of a physical specimen. However, he stands just 5’11 and only weighs 250 pounds. In 2013 thus far, the Texas native has accumulated 40 tackles (26 solo), five sacks, 11.5 tackles-for-loss, and two forced fumbles. For a team like Maryland that has an inexperienced offensive line, it’ll be a tough task to try and contain Whitlock.
Wake Forest also provides a strong pass rush off the edge to compliment Whitlock. Senior Zach Thompson brings a wealth of experience and is having strong season so far. Thompson has been a very steady force for the Demon Deacons. Every season at Wake Forest, he has improved statistically. Thompson has tremendous size at 6’5 and 265 pounds and has shown his ability to get to the quarterback. In six games this year, he has racked up four sacks after having five a year ago. Thompson could be on pace for a career year if currents trend keep up.
Key Questions and Storylines:
1.) How will C.J. Brown look in his first game back?
Despite missing the Virginia game last week, quarterback C.J. Brown is lucky to be only missing one game. Brown will be under center on Saturday and it’ll certainly be interesting to see how he bounces back. If Brown is being blitzed by the Demon Deacons, will he be confident enough to hang tough in the pocket and deliver the football? Or will he be a little tentative and get the ball out? Brown has overcome an extremely challenging obstacle already this season as he returned from a torn ACL and has been spectacular. It wouldn’t be surprising at all to see the old Brown back and wreaking havoc out of the red option formation.
2.) Can the Maryland secondary shut down Michael Campanaro?
As was discussed above, Campanaro is an absolute stud and one of the best wideouts in college football. Cornerback Issac Goins will likely be covering him, but may require safety help at times. Don’t expect Campanaro not to put up decent numbers. He’ll get his, but Maryland will need to limit the big plays and not let him get into the open field. If they can hold Campanaro in check, the Terps stand a good chance at an easy victory.
3.) How will the linebacking unit look without without Matt Robinson, Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil, and Alex Twine?
While the losses of Cudjoe-Virgil and Twine are big, the most devastating is the loss of Matt Robinson. Robinson flys around the football and can cover the tight end unlike few others. As we saw last week, Robinson’s loss was felt as Virginia tight end Jake McGee ran wild with eight catches for 114 yards and a touchdown. Many were worried about Robinson making the transition from safety to linebacker, but the local product has made the move very admirably. Through five games this season, the Columbia, Md. native has racked up 31 tackles (21 solo) and has been arguably the Terps best linebacker, besides senior Marcus Whitfield.
Whitfield is a guy that is going to have to step up his game. Over the past few weeks, he has tailed off and hasn’t had much success in terms of getting to the quarterback. In six games, Whitfield has tallied 25 tackles (13 solo) and an impressive 5.5 sacks. Unfortunately for Maryland, Whitfield hasn’t brought down an opposing signal caller since the Connecticut game where he got to Chandler Whitmer three times. He is going to be one of the vocal leaders of this defense and rally the troops for Maryland to be successful, especially with Clemson coming to College Park next Saturday.
The Terrapins will win if:
A.) C.J. Brown picks up where he left during the first four games.
B.) The defense contains the Wake Forest passing attack
The Terrapins will lose if:
A.) Brown turns the ball over multiple times
B.) Michael Campanaro has a monster game
Prediction: Maryland 30, Wake Forest 17