Dan Scott: Clemson - Maryland Prediction
Duane Coleman will probably start for the Tigers against the Terps.
When Clemson Has The Ball
For two games now Clemson head coach Tommy Bowden has forgone the sideways passing game and turned his wide receivers loose downfield. The results have been everything Tiger fans had hoped for, probably more, and apparently has stamped this team as with a pass-first identity. That being the case, Clemson's offensive line must continue protecting Charlie Whitehurst as if he's the Golden Child, because it appears the Tigers will have to throw well again to beat Maryland. That could happen, because even though the Terrapins' secondary is considered well above average, their pass rush has been inconsistent. Protect Whitehurst and not only does the passing game click, but the past two games show the running game will come along late when needed most. Don't protect Charlie, and it could be a long afternoon.
ADVANTAGE - Clemson
When Maryland Has The Ball
Clemson's defense played out of its mind in its last outing, the 39-3 victory at Georgia Tech. The Tigers dominated the Yellow Jackets in every facet of the game, playing with an enthusiasm and intensity which hasn't been seen around these parts in more than a couple of years. That's the good news. The bad news is that no matter what kind of defense the Tigers seem to put on the field, Ralph Friedgen finds a way to slash huge holes in it and put up an abundance of points. Whether it was his last four years as Georgia Tech's offensive coordinator or his first two seasons at the helm in Maryland, Clemson has yet to figure out Friedgen's magic. To do it this year the Tigers have to stop the run, no easy task even if top tailback Bruce Perry doesn't play. But if they can, quarterback Scott McBrien has yet to prove he can beat a team by himself.
ADVANTAGE - Maryland
Maryland kick return specialist Steve Suter is expected to play, or at least try, despite cartilage damage in his knee which will require surgery - probably as soon as next week. Even Suter at 85 percent is dangerous, although Clemson's kick coverage has been significantly better so far this season. Tiger kicker Aaron Hunt needs to get hot just about now.
ADVANTAGE - Even
Whatever Bowden did to get his team ready for Georgia Tech, he needs to do it twice in order to figure out a way to beat Friedgen. Ol' Ralphy just keeps finding ways to befuddle the Tigers.
ADVANTAGE - Maryland
Unlike some of the callers to my postgame show, I wasn't on the "Fire Bowden Now" bandwagon which rolled through immediately following the Georgia game to open the season. Likewise, I'm not hopping aboard the new model - the "Bowden is Back" - which came after the Georgia Tech game. We're not yet halfway through a long season, and the story - whatever it proves to be - is still playing itself out. Back in July during my daily radio show I picked the Tigers to lose this game. I'm tempted to change my mind, however I want to see some consistency before I start reexamining the rest of those late-summer prognostications. Clemson is making strides, I believe. But this week they come up just a bit short.
Maryland 30, Clemson 24
Dan Scott covers Clemson University for the Seneca Daily Journal/Clemson Daily Messenger. He also hosts SportsTalk from 9 a.m.-Noon, Monday-Friday, on WCCP-Fm, 104.9. Click here for Dan Scott's SportsTalk discussion board.