Can the Terps Defy Death (Valley)?

9/25/2008 11:03:52 AM Winning a football game in Death Valley is a rare occurance for Clemson opponents. Few venues in the ACC boast a larger capacity than the 81,473 seats in Memorial Stadium. The Terps have posted victories in Death Valley only three times since 1985- roughly 27% of the time.\par
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The odds are against the Terps this time around too. Before the season started, every prognosticator practically handed the Tigers the ACC Title. Clemson possessed arguably the best QB in the ACC in Cullen Harper, and the best HB tandem in the country: James Davis and CJ Spiller. On paper, the Terps had no chance to beat Clemson on the road.\par
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Then the season started. While Clemson's backfield is still as talented as anyone's; the Tigers struggled mightily out of the gate. Alabama rolled over Clemson in their season opener 34-10. Suddenly Clemson didn't look so tough. However, it turns out that Alabama is a damn good team. They are blowing out everybody. Losing a nuetral site contest against the Crimson Tide suddenly doesn't look so bad.\par
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What's more, Clemson has looked good since losing in week 1. They dismantled NC State (who just beat an excellent East Carolina team) and have been thrashing inferior opponents (something the Terps have not be able to accomplish).\par
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Is Maryland up to the challenge? Physically, the answer is yes. Da'Rell Scott may be better than either of Clemson's runners. Chris Turner has gotten better each week since taking over the starting job. Maryland has a bigger win to its resume than any victory Clemson has achieved. The Terps redeemed the entire ACC with their huge upset of California, but questions remain.\par
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Can the defense keep the opposing team from stringing together long drives? So far the answer to that question has been "sometimes". Terps defensive coordinator, Chris Cosh, has shown a reluctance to blitz. In my completely unprofessional opinion, college teams need to blitz. The opposing QB is always going to be a young kid between 18-22 years old. Force said youngster into bad decisions by bringing pressure! Resfusing to blitz is almost unheard of in football. It means the QB can sit back in the pocket and wait for receivers to get open. Simply put, Cosh's scheme puts way too pressure on the secondary to make plays. For the Terps to win on Saturday, this needs to change. It is time for Cosh to show us something.\par
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Can the Terps win on the road? Last year, the answer was "yes" The big win at Rutgers proved that the Terps can get it done. This year's loss to Middle Tennessee State (shuddering) changed that perspective. If Maryland can't beat a Sun Belt team filled with SEC cast-offs; how can they win in Death Valley?\par
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I think the key for Maryland will be to control the time of possession by orchestrating long drives that utilize the Terps breadth of backfield talent. I think Da'Rell Scot is already the best tailback to wear a Terp uniform since Lamont Jordan and when it is all said and done; he could be the best ever. Maryland will need to lean on Mr. Scott on Saturday if we are to eke out a win.\par
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Secondly, our kicker, Egekesaouiewfwe will need to get off the schnide. (I mentioned in an earlier game thread that I won't refer to him by his given name until he gets himself out of the doghouse. Sorry, garbage kicks against E. Michigan won't do it). The kid may be given the opportunity to be the hero on Saturday. He needs to seize the moment and make the most of his chances. The Terps have no margin for error. If we have a chance to put 3 points on the board, we have to be successful every time. No excuses.\par
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There you have it. If Maryland's defense plays aggressively (read: blitzes); if the offense controls the time of possession, and if our kicker doesn't miss any FG attempts; the Terps might actually pull out a victory. That's three if's.\par
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What do you think? Can they do it? I posted a poll on the right hand side. Is Turtle Soup made up of a bunch of homers or a bunch of pessimists?
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