Clemson Wary of Improved Terrapins

by - Correspondent -

CLEMSON — Tommy Bowden isn’t buying any of it.

Despite reports that Maryland head coach Ralph Friedgen has maybe lost his touch and isn’t the offensive guru he used to be, Bowden still thinks Friedgen is one of college football’s best.
But the numbers back up those critics’ claims. The Terrapins rank 97th nationally in total offense, while averaging just 296.3 yards and 24.1 points a game.

Those numbers are worse than a year ago, when Maryland averaged 383.9 yards a game and 24.5 points, forcing Friedgen to part with then offensive coordinator Charlie Taff and take over the play calling duties.

But despite those poor offensive numbers and the fact they have a defense which ranks 11th in the ACC in total yards allowed, the Terrapins enter Death Valley Saturday with a three-game win streak, a 6-2 overall record and a 3-1 mark in the ACC’s Atlantic Division.
Bowden said Wednesday he isn’t surprised because over the last month of the season, Friedgen has proved to his players that if they play hard and take care of the football, they can win any game.

“It reminds me that there is no ‘I’ in team,” he said. “They are a true team concept. They have won three conference games in a row by a very solid kicking game, not turning the ball over and playing very sound on defense.”

Maryland concerns the Tigers in so many ways, but none so more than its willingness to believe it can win every game. Since being embarrassed by No. 3 West Virginia on Sept. 14, the Terps have won four of their last five games, with their lone loss being a four-point decision to No. 20 Georgia Tech. In that game, Maryland drove inside the Yellow Jackets 10-yard line in the final seconds only to be kept out of the end zone by a sack and a penalty.

“They have a lot of confidence in what they are doing,” Bowden said. “They know how to win and are playing within their means.”

Clemson defensive coordinator Vic Koenning says Maryland also has some weapons that just recently discovered they are pretty good players.

“They have perhaps the three best receivers we have seen as a group,” he said.

Those three receivers – Darrius Heyward-Bey, Isaiah Williams and Danny Oquendo. Heyward-Bey leads the Terps with 25 receptions for 346 yards and two scores, while Williams has 15 catches for 183 and Oquendo 16 for 208.

“You look at what you see on film and what you see statistically and things don’t add up,” Koenning said. “They seem like they make a lot of plays and do things right. They are very well coached. His coaching scheme is well known and I think he has some tools so it will be a challenge for us.”

Last year, Maryland quarterback Sam Hollenbach threw for 288 yards on the Tigers, and over the last month has really come on to pick up the pace for Friedgen’s offense. Last Week against Florida State, Hollenbach found eight different receivers in a 27-24 victory.

“We are going to have to play with as much passion as we did for Georgia Tech,” Koenning said. “There isn’t any other way of looking at it. I really hope our guys get to that mindset. I really have a concern about that.”

Courtesy of Daily Journal

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