Clemson vs Maryland Preview and Prediction
Just one year ago, the Maryland football program seemed to be on the rise,
with the Terrapins boasting a 4-1 record as they prepared to take on Clemson
in College Park in a game that had bowl implications for both schools. Since
that time, head coach Ron Vanderlinden and the Terps have managed to compile
a dismal 3-8 record and only one victory against Atlantic Coast Conference competition.
Needless to say, things don't look good for the ACC's northernmost school as
it heads into Death Valley.
QUARTERBACKS- Heisman Trophy Candidate Woodrow Dantzler effectively burst
on the college football scene last season with 435 yards of total offense against
the Terrapins in College Park. Considering that the then anemic Maryland defense
has become even more generous in 2000, a repeat performance by Dantzler wouldn't
be too surprising. Quarterback Calvin McCall has struggled in 2000 for the Terps,
passing for a mere 971 yards, four touchdowns and five interceptions.
RUNNING BACKS- Heading into the season, Maryland's LaMont Jordan was
touted as a Heisman candidate and the premier tailback in the ACC. At present
time, the senior isn't even among the top-four rushers in the league, averaging
only 75 yards per-game with six touchdowns, down from 148 yards per-game and
16 touchdowns one year ago. Strange as it may have sounded in August, Clemson'
Travis Zachery has been far and away more effective than Jordan has thus far.
Regardless, Jordan is a big, athletic back who is sure to break loose before
CLEMSON RECEIVERS VS. MARYLAND SECONDARY- Maryland's passing defense
has been virtually non-existent in 2000, with the Terrapins giving up a whopping
284 yards per game so far. Should Maryland try and load up the line in hopes
of stopping Dantzler and Zachery, then look for the Tiger air attack to explode.
MARYLAND RECEIVERS VS. CLEMSON SECONDARY- After a rocky outing against
NC State, Clemson looks to rebound against a Maryland passing attack that averages
just over 200 yards per game. Wide receiver Guilian Gary and tight end Jeff
Dugan lead a Terrapin receiving corps that is short on both depth and talent.
CLEMSON OFFENSIVE LINE VS. MARYLAND DEFENSIVE LINE- Clemson leads the
ACC in rushing with a nearly 300-yard per game average. Maryland is next to
last in the league at stopping the run. Enough said.
MARYLAND OFFENSIVE LINE VS. CLEMSON DEFENSIVE LINE- The simple fact that
a talented back like Jordan has managed to rush for only 378-yards in five game
does not reflect well on the Terrapin offensive line's run blocking. On the
positive side, Maryland has allowed only two quarterback sacks all season. After
a solid performance against a pass-happy NC State squad last week, the Tiger
defensive line will shift its focus to stopping Jordan. Considering that the
Maryland tailback shredded the Clemson defense for 177 yards a four touchdowns
one year ago, motivating the Tiger defensive front shouldn't be too much of
a challenge for defensive coordinator Reggie Herring.
LINEBACKERS- It will be critical for the Tiger linebackers to help attack
the gaps and stop Jordan. Solid tackling and disciplined play should force Maryland
to resort to the passing game, which is a risky proposition for Vanderlinden.
Sophomore E.J. Henderson leads the Terrapins with 52 tackles, including six
stops behind the line of scrimmage.
SPECIAL TEAMS- Maryland kicker Brian Kopka is among the best in the country,
with the accurate senior converting on 4-5 attempts thus far, including 2-3
from 40+ yards. Terrapin punter Brooks Bernard is equally adept, averaging 45.4
yards per kick, including an astonishing season-long punt of 85 yards. Tony
Lazzara will take over the kicking duties for Aaron Hunt as the Tigers continue
to search for consistency in their special teams.
COACHING- A horrible defense and inconsistent offensive productivity
has cursed Vanderlinden, now in his fourth year at Maryland. While recruiting
has dramatically improved under the amicable coach, the Terrapins' on-field
performance most certainly has not, leading one to question how much longer
Vanderlinden will remain in charge in College Park. As for the Tigers, the spotlight
on Tommy Bowden and the rest of the coaching staff becomes brighter with every
win, and deservedly so. The turnaround that the Clemson program has made in
just one year has been nothing short of miraculous.
Clemson- 56 Maryland- 7