Ralph Friedgen has been known for making average quarterbacks perform at high levels. This season he has simply not received the production from Joel Statham or Jordan Steffy. Friedgen has not announced who will start on Saturday, but I have a feeling Steffy will be the first quarterback to take the field for Maryland on Saturday. Steffy has not played well so far, but Friedgen is extremely excited about the potential for Steffy. Steffy is a film nut. Ever since, he reported to Maryland he has done any and everything that would help him excel faster. The tools and abilities are there, but the crowd could be a factor against the true freshman Steffy. Statham is not as mobile as Steffy, but he is a low risk type quarterback. The problem when you start a low risk quarterback is you need to have big time playmakers around him.
This is where Maryland's offense has struggled this year. Outside of a 700 yard performance against Duke this group has not been very productive. Josh Allen and Sam Maldonado have struggled this year. They played pretty well against West Virginia, but have been non factors the last two weeks against Georgia Tech and NC State. Clemson's run defense has not been outstanding, but Georgia Tech's defense was giving up over five yards a carry coming into the Maryland game. This will be a key for Clemson to stop Maryland's rushing attack, because in the last 12 meetings whoever has rushed for the most yardage has won the game.
Maryland does not possess huge threats at receiver, but they do have some speed. Steve Suter and Derrick Fenner are both capable of getting behind a defense and making a big play. Fenner made the big play against Tye Hill last year that put Maryland up by 14 points. A player to watch in this area will be tight end Vernon Davis. He is a very versatile threat, who can also line up at fullback some. He runs incredibly well for a tight end, and is extremely hard to bring down. This will be a big matchup for Anthony Waters and Tramaine Billie.
This offense comes into Clemson on Saturday, after only posting 172 yards in two games at home. Clemson cannot afford to give this offense easy scoring situations whether via turnovers or special teams. If Clemson can stop the Terrapin offense on the first couple of series, the doubt could set in, and the Tigers will have to capitalize.