Another week, another outstanding SBNation blog to do a Q&A with. This week we turned to UMD's best blog, Testudo Times. I supplied the questions, Ben Broman provided the responses. Enjoy.
STS: What's the latest on the QB controversy in College Park? If we do see CJ Brown, how does that change OC Gary Crowton's gameplan?
Danny O'Brien reacted really poorly to the scheme change that Crowton brought, and his confidence has dropped as a result. He's played poorly since the Miami game, and the staff made the switch to C.J. Brown, the better running QB and a much better fit for Crowton's offense, during the Georgia Tech game. Randy Edsall is refusing to make a call, at least publicly, on which of the two will start this Saturday. My gut tells me it'll be Brown - the staff just seems to have a thing for him - but it could be either and I wouldn't be surprised.
As for the scheme, it's not so much the changes Crowton will have to make so much as it is whether he'll be able to run his scheme at all. The offense has taken a decidedly Edsallian turn with O'Brien, which makes sense considering DOB is better in a pro-style offense anyway. In the 20 snaps he took against Georgia Tech, 13 of them were under center, a vast change from the early weeks when almost every snap was out of the shotgun. If it's O'Brien, expect to see a fairly conservative, uninspiring look. If it's Brown, though, you'll see Crowton's scheme at its pure, almost Oregonian form, nearly exclusively shotgun and a lot of zone read options and short, high-percentage passes.
STS: Coming into the year I felt UMD was in good shape with Davin Meggett and DJ Adams in the backfield. How have those guys performed to date?
Meggett's been very good so far; he's finishing his runs like he did his freshman season and seems to be running with more life and determination than he has in years. Adams, on the other hand, is an interesting story. One of the team's more colorful characters, perhaps it shouldn't be surprising that he and Edsall didn't hit it off. Adams was suspended for the first game for an unspecified reason, and has been in the doghouse ever since. He didn't even get a single carry against GT. That often comes at Maryland's detriment; the offense is only 1-7 (TD) in the red zone, which is usually Adams' wheelhouse. He's been replaced by Justus Pickett, a true freshman with a high ceiling but who isn't really "there" yet. Expect to see a lot of Pickett, who's shifty and has pretty good vision, come Saturday.
STS: Clemson's DL has played really well the last couple of weeks. Are there any vulnerabilities along the UMD offensive line that Clemson should look to exploit?
A week ago, I would've said no. The offensive line has only allowed four sacks - three of them coming in the same game - despite dropping back way more than Maryland is used to. But last week their best lineman, senior left guard Andrew Gonnella, suffered an ugly injury against Georgia Tech and is lost for the year. Replacing him is massive sophomore Pete White, a former four-star who weighs in at 330, which is a problem for Maryland's new-look, lighter unit. This will be the first serious playing of his career, so there's no telling how he'll perform; we know he has talent from his high school days, but he's not a great fit for a lot of the things Crowton likes his linemen to do. A good interior defensive lineman could cause him troubles.
STS: Clemson's passing game has been on point all year, but on a down-to-down basis have struggled running the ball. Maryland's run defense was bad against Temple, but respectable against GT. What should Clemson expect out of its running game against UMD?
Truth be told, I don't think anyone knows the answer to that question. Maryland is missing half a dozen defensive starters and was more or less porous through the first three games of the season. No one expected what happened against GT, which was nigh-miraculous looking back on it.
Thing is, GT's scheme is so different that no one knows if that's going to accurately scale to other, more traditional offenses. Based on previous weeks, I'd say it's likely that Clemson should be able to run the ball well enough, so long as they stay away from Joe Vellano and attack Maryland's inexperience off tackle.
STS: Give us an update on some Terrapin injuries that could have a significant impact on this game (i.e. - Kenny Tate).
Well, there's Gonnella, as I mentioned above, and Maryland's defense has been ravaged by long-term injuries. But the injuries that are in question - namely, Tate and his fellow linebacker Demetrius Hartsfield - look like they're breaking the Terrapins' way: both players were in the depth chart and are expected to start on Saturday.
STS: It's a night game in College Park. What kind of atmosphere are the Clemson Tigers walking into? Is it a sellout?
The night game will help, but the Temple loss has dissolved most of the hype around the program. It's not a sellout, though by game-day it shouldn't be too far out. The student section will be packed, as it usually is for ACC games, but past that it will likely be a rather tepid environment.
STS: Alright, enough beating around the bush. Give me your prediction. Who you got?
Maryland has really played to the level of its competition so far this year, and I think they're better than their 2-3 record. So I'm guessing that the Terrapins can keep it close, but in the end Clemson is likely going to be too much, and will probably win by about 7 or so.