Venables prepares for new-look Terrapins

by - Senior Writer -

CLEMSON – The Maryland Terrapins are facing some difficult circumstances to be sure, but defensive coordinator Brent VenablesBrent Venables
Defensive Coordinator / Linebackers
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knows the Terps still have dangerous athletes on the offensive side of the ball.

Former quarterback Danny O’Brien transferred out of the program before the season started, but head coach Randy Edsall and the coaching staff liked what they saw out of C.J. Brown last season. However, he tore an ACL during drills in August, shelving Maryland’s only experienced signal caller.

Next up was true freshman Perry Hills, who suffered an ACL tear of his own last month against North Carolina. The Maryland coaches elected to save the redshirt for former Blue Ridge standout Caleb Rowe and inserted Devin Burns into the lineup. He promptly suffered a foot injury, and Rowe was thrown into the fire.

Rowe continued the disturbing trend when he tore his ACL against Boston College, leaving Maryland with no other scholarship quarterbacks on the roster. As a result, freshman linebacker Shawn Petty started last week against Georgia Tech, and while he didn’t remind anyone of a young Boomer Esiason, he did a credible job considering he had less than a week to prepare - he completed 9-of-18 passes for 115 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.

“I thought [Petty] really gave them a chance to execute what they wanted him to do. I know what facing that option is like,” Venables said. “It’s hard to get the ball and have opportunities to score. [Georgia Tech] really forces you to maximize the opportunities that you have. I don’t think that was really indicative, the final score, of where they really are.

“They’re facing difficult circumstances, to say the least. It was really windy, so it was hard to gauge what kind of accuracy he has, but you can see he’s a big, strong athlete that can throw the ball. He didn’t seem to get overwhelmed with anything. I thought Georgia Tech played well, structurally and were in good position.”

Venables said the Terrapins can’t be overlooked, however, because he knows his defense hasn’t arrived and Maryland has some playmakers in wide receiver Stefon Diggs and running back Wes Brown.

“I know Wes Brown and Stefon Diggs very well. I recruited them, prior to coming to Clemson,” Venables said. “They’re very good football players. Wes is a big, strong running back that plays with a great pad lean and Stefon Diggs is like our freaks we’ve got on offense. He’s that level of player, very highly skilled, terrific ball skills. You just throw it within a few yards of him and he can make some big time plays. He’s got a lot of speed and fabulous leaping ability. And whatever we haven’t defended well, people are going to employ and challenge us and see if we have corrected or fixed whether it is fundamental or a scheme issue.”

Venables said the hardest part of preparing for Maryland is that he really only has one game tape to study.

“We don’t have a ton of tape. We don’t know the different things they’re going to do, run and pass,” he said. “You just don’t know. It’s a lot more difficult than you would think, in the preparation. They just don’t have a lot of DNA to go by. We just have to really focus on us as much as we do anything and making sure that we’re fundamentally sound. We still have a million things to get better at, and we need to make sure we are still focused on doing exactly that.”

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