1) Touchdowns Not Field Goals - Granted Clemson beat a better team last week with field goals, but this week the game is on the road. On the road, you get down to the 2-yard line, you have to punch it in. Byrd Stadium has been a difficult place to play for Clemson since 1999. The Tigers have dropped the last two meetings in College Park, and they will have too play well on Saturday to win. This Maryland team is not capable of winning the ACC, but if Clemson is unable to convert inside the redzone, the Tigers will lose a key ACC battle.
2) Stop The Big Play - Maryland’s passing game will throw it deep 5-7 times a game. Clemson’s secondary was only tested vertically a couple of times against Texas A&M, and they were not successful. One blown coverage or missed assignment could be a huge momentum swing in Maryland’s favor. Clemson’s secondary is faster and more athletic than Maryland’s wide receivers, but with the deep ball sometimes you get lucky. Stopping the running game early would give Clemson a chance to sit back and defend Sam Hollenbach.
3) Avoid The Trap - Ah yes, the proverbial trap game. If you were able to find “a trap game” in the dictionary, it would say Clemson at Maryland 2005. This game follows a huge last second win, and it comes right before a big match-up with Miami. For all of the talk about the senior leadership over the spring and summer, this will be their first big test. The coaches can only do so much, and then it must come from within. It was great senior leadership that allowed Clemson to pound every opponent that stepped in their way the last four games of 2003. Now, Charlie Whitehurst, Tye Hill, Charles Bennett, etc. it is time for this program to take the next step. The Tigers are 2-point underdogs, and there is no reason this time should come out flat.
4) Pressure Hollenbach - Maryland quarterback Sam Hollenbach threw two interceptions early against Navy, and the Terrapins almost did not recover. If Clemson can pressure Hollenbach into early mistakes, the Tigers may jump out early and never look back. Maryland may try to run some option with Hollenbach, but I expect he will spend most of the day in the pocket. Maryland’s offensive line has some issues that Clemson needs to take advantage of.
5) Stay Away From Extracurricular Activity - Maryland ranks right up there with NC State and Florida State in terms of personal foul penalties. The Terps will push the issue after the play several times, and Clemson must keep its composure. More times than not, it is the player who retaliates that gets caught. Personal foul penalties were an issue against Maryland last year, and the Tigers cannot stop a drive or allow Maryland to continue a drive with a personal foul penalty.
Prediction: Clemson 28 Maryland 17