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Maryland at Clemson Game Preview

Maryland Terrapins (4-1 Overall, 1-0 ACC) @ Clemson Tigers (2-3 Overall, 0-2 ACC)

FEI Rankings: Clemson #30, Maryland #49.

Kick Off:  NOON EDT

Television:  Raycom/ACC Network/ESPN Gameplan

Internet:  ESPN3

Radio:  104.9 WCCP  (

Head Coach: Ralph Friedgen (71-47 overall, 39-34 ACC 10 seasons at UMd)

Depth Charts for Both Squads

Basic information for both squads below (thanks


Complete CUAD Media Preview

Tigers vs Terps preview

Line: CU -14   O/U 47.5

 Quick and dirty statistical comparison (thanks below:


Maryland Head Coach Ralph Friedgen has experienced a tremendous amount of success against Clemson over the years.  Ralph, who is 6-3 in over the course of his head coaching career against Clemson, has led his squad to victories over Clemson the past two seasons and UMd has won the last two games played between these two teams in Death Valley.  Ralph also gave Clemson trouble while he was Georgia Tech's offensive coordinator and has had quite a bit of success over the Tigers over the years.

Friedgen has been around and has had a ton of success as an offensive football coach.  Ralph got his college football start as a player for the University of Maryland and was recruited to the university by none other than Gameday's Lee Corso.  Friedgen then got his first taste of the college coaching scene as a GA at UMd in the early '70's.  The big man then bumped around several smaller schools until becoming the offensive coordinator at Maryland in the eary/mid-'80's.  The Fridge then followed Ross to Georgia Tech where they were able to claim a national title in the '90 season.  When Ross went to the pros, so did Ralph.  The Chargers ended up making it to the Super Bowl in 1995 with Friedgen as their offensive coordinator.  RF went back to Tech in '97 as offensive coordinator.  You will probably recall those offenses as very balanced groups.  Friedgen took over the Maryland Terps in time for the 2001 season.  Since coming to College Park as the head man, Friedgen revitalized a team that had been pretty bad for quite a while.  The Terps won the ACC in 2001 and has had several 10 win seasons while at the school. Now, thanks to a lack of QB recruiting in particular, he's on the hot seat.

Obviously, Friedgen is an offensive minded football coach.  We all remember his days at Georgia Tech when he was able to call some magnificent football games.  His offenses were very balanced and Ralph liked to use core plays out of a lot of formations to assure execution and confuse the defense.  In addition to the confusion that all these formations had on a defense, RF was able to create favorable matchups and matched his strengths against his opponent's weaknesses on each play.

There is no mystery to a Friedgen offense. Its the same plays everyone else uses, including ourselves, but its extremely multiple in the formation sense. That is how he confuses a defense.

Fridgen is a polar figure at Maryland, and was rumored to be on a short leash with former AD Debbie Yow.  Yow, who has been critical of other Men's coaches at UMd (her feud with Gary Williams was well documented by the DC media) left to take the same position at NC State earlier this season.  It is widely rumored that if there was not such turmoil at the top of the AD, Friedgen would have been out of a job.  As it stands now, Ralph likely needs a successful '10 season to finish out the last season of his contract.

On top of all of this, there are rumors floating around regarding the relationship between RF and Maryland's coach in waiting, James Franklin.  RF is allegedly upset that the school placed such a title on Franklin in when RF retires (expectations are that Friedgen wants to retire after the '11 season).  The two must work together, as it is unlikely that either will be around too much longer without a successful '10 campaign.

On to James Franklin.  Franklin was the WR's coach at MD from 2000 to 2004.  He left for a stint in the NFL and at Kansas State before returning to College Park.  Franklin is well known for his recruiting abilities and for bringing the west coast offense to Maryland.

On the defensive side of the field, Don Brown leads the Terps 4-3 attack.  Brown has experience as a head coach, leading Plymouth State, Northeastern, and UMass.  Brown is most well known for his successes at UMass before getting on-board with the Terrapins.  It will be interesting to see how this defense fares against Clemson's rushing attack this weekend should the Tigers run Ellington 25 times.

Brown's version of the 4-3 is similar to our own in many respects. It uses multiple fronts to confuse blocking schemes and plays quite a bit of Robber/Cover 2 Man. Brown loves to blitz, and he will come often. It'll be zone blitzes with C3 and many CB and LB blitzes with man coverage. So far,  the chances they are taking on 3rd down defense kills them.

Maryland's big losses from last season include current Oakland Raider Bruce Campbell and Phil Costa.  Maryland's offensive numbers have been inconsistent, and that may stem from the loss of Jamarr Robinson to injury early on and have been playing behind Danny O'Brienthe past couple weeks.  Da'Rel Scott and Davin Meggett return to anchor the Terps rushing attach.  You will remember Scott from the 2008 season and his 1000+ yard season.  To date, Scott and Meggett each have 51 carries.  Scott averages over 5 ypc and Meggett almost 6 and a half a touch, so these guys have definitely had success when given the football.  Torrey Smith leads the Terps in receiving this season and, with 17 grabs, dwarfs the rest of the team in receiving production.

Here is how Maryland's schedule has played out to date (thanks sbnation):

Navy Midshipmen Monday, September 06 2010 win 17 - 14 coverage
Morgan St. Bears Saturday, September 11 2010 win 62 - 3 coverage
@ West Virginia Mountaineers  Saturday, September 18 2010 loss 17 - 31 coverage
Fla. International Golden Panthers Saturday, September 25 2010 win 42 - 28 coverage
Duke Blue Devils Saturday, October 02 2010 win 21 - 16 coverage

Maryland really was not challenged against Morgan St. and FIU.  The Navy game was a sloppy one that Maryland was fortunate to win.  Navy was able to move the ball well against the Terps but turned it over at critical times.  Before their off-week last week, the terps disposed of Duke.  The lone loss on the season was to a good West Virginia team in Morgantown.  It is tough to take too much from these games but you know that Friedgen will be going all out in an attempt to secure another season as the Maryland head man.

Press Conferences:

Billy Napier


On the run/pass imbalance last weekend:

"One of the things, going back and looking at that … You’ve got to play to your strengths. There’s no doubt, given our personnel, that we’ve got to play to our strengths and our experience up front and our tight and fullback group and running back group. And we’ve got to grow up a little bit outside. Each week, we get a little better."

"One of the things, just looking at the play numbers today. I think we had 27 rushes, and we had 14 plays in that game that were two-minute or down by two score, two-minute situations. So you really had 52 plays outside of that, and there were 27 runs and 25 pass. So I think maybe you’re a little bit more than 50-percent run, which is OK given the type of game it was. Maybe you’d want to run a little bit more, but if you look at the actual number of normal snaps, you were pretty balanced in the number of calls, if not a little bit more run. When you see 27 rushes in 64 plays, you think they didn’t run the ball a lot. But in reality, we called more runs than passes when we were in the normal game."

I think our Film Review of UNC shot down some of those excuses. There were several times we could've run it and elected to go shotgun. Dabo threw a few more things out there:

Offensively, they're very balanced.  They have a lot of formations. They have some really talented players. The biggest challenge for us is their quarterback situation, now that No. 5, Robinson is back.  It creates a different element for us.  He's the guy they like to run the zone-read with.  We're having to spend a lot of time preparing for two different guys. O'Brien is a good player, he's smart and not making mistakes.  But they're really different. We feel like that they're going to try to run the quarterback with Robinson.

Robinson is definitely the zone-read guy. We may sit back in Robber coverage ourselves just to have a spy on him in scrambling situations.

"It might be the biggest challenge we've had defensively from a schematic standpoint.  They've probably had the most pressures (blitzes) of anybody that we've seen.  They're multiple with their fronts.  They do a good job of mixing up their odd and even packages together.  They do a lot of different things defensively.  Their defensive line right now is playing good for them.  We have to make sure we're getting hats on hats."

Odd=Center is covered by a D-lineman, but it can also mean they play 3 and 5 man fronts. Remember our own UNDER defensive front is a 5-man front, the SAM plays on the line across from the TE. EVEN= Center is not covered at all.

Steele's was much more Maryland-centric.

The Two QB system:

 "They started the season with Robinson.  If you're not careful, you put certain games in your computer bank and then you watch other games, so we had to reshuffle the deck a little bit.  He started against Navy and Morgan State and WVU.  In those games, there were a lot of QB runs, QB counters, powers and zone extras.  And then he goes out and O'Brien comes in.  You didn't see the QB runs with O'Brien.  And he's a good athlete.  We just didn't see the runs.  It's almost like two offenses in a sense.

"In the tailback run game, it's the same.  But it's a major, major difference when No. 11 is in and when No. 5 is in on play selection.  It's distinctly different.  A., you have to know who's out there.  B., the problem is practice time.  You have a two-headed monster going.

"They're a typical Ralph Friedgen offense.  They run effectively, throw efficiently and they don't beat themselves.  They take what  you give them and methodically take care of business.  And well-coached.  I've always thought they were well-coached.

"There's not a lot of information out there on how Robinson got hurt.  It's the first time that we know of that they've both been healthy.  The million dollar question is what are you going to get?  5 all the time?  11 all the time?"

The top three tacklers from the UNC game, all linebackers.  Safe to assume they're playing better

 "It was that kind of game, a more traditional game.  There was a lot of box-running game the other day.  It just happened to be their game in terms of the fits.  There were a lot of positives.  Coming out of that game, the total offense output … 255 is hard to do in any league game.  We were the third best in third down efficiency we've been in two years.  The rushing defense was good.  The only other game better was Coastal Carolina.  In terms of the numbers, we had a lot of good things.

"What we have to do is set the table defensively.  Last year we were efficient in setting up scores.  We just haven't done that as effectively.  It's the last mental errors we've had in two years.  We played 66 snaps with 11 on the field and had seven mental errors, that's hard to do.  Everybody talks about big plays.  You watch LSU and Florida, Alabama and South Carolina, when you start talking about big plays, what's your definition of it?  Most coaches, it's 12-15 yards in the run game and over 20 in the pass game.  We played that whole game with two big plays.  That's the second least we've had.  We had a couple last year of three.

"We didn't have a huge number against Miami.  It wasn't off the chart, but it wasn't good.  The Miami one was two factors … the number and the yardage of those big plays.  There was a lot of improvement.  We just have to find a way to be accountable and know your job and do your job, so at the end of the day you go in and do what you're supposed to do and that's be successful.  Anything less here is unacceptable.  And it should be."

Do these guys want to run as much as any team you've played this year?

They're averaging 34 runs a game and 21 passes a game.  Obviously they're saying, 'Hey, we're going to run more than we throw it.'  Last week it was like 33 to 32.  This week it's like 34-21."

What's your mix now at the nickel back position?  How locked in is Xavier Brewer?

"Four guys can play it."

Darius Robinson wouldn't be under consideration for nickel back?

"He doesn't play nickel back.  Maybe one day.  It's not like you can say, 'Hey, come on over here and go play nickel.'  That's like saying go get your tailback and put him over at tight end."

So you're pretty secure with Xavier getting a lot of time at nickel?

"Gilchrist is a starter, but Xavier backs him up and Sensabaugh plays and Jenkins has played in games.  There is a comfort level with all of them."

Nickelback is a position that gets asked to do quite a bit in this system, so he is correct in saying Robinson likely could have trouble with it to start out. I am not saying Robinson won't be a great player, but if you are expecting him to be much better than Brewer is at the moment, I think youre being too optimistic. Both Brewer and Robinson will still get snaps as backup corners.

We were not in much Nickel against UNC, not like Auburn or Miami, because of the pro-style system they run in Chapel Hill. Maryland is similar, so we predict you'll see more 4-3 sets this week. The issue will be lining up.

Both of these teams have a lot to prove this week and both coaches need wins to keep their respective fans at bay.  This game should be settled on the ground, with Clemson's coaches stressing this week that Ellington will touch the ball more and Maryland having two capable runners and a suspect passing game.

But you all know how Friedgen beats us, he knows that in the past when you punch Clemson in the mouth, they fold. He tells his team this every time we play them, and his record against us is testament to that.

We will say that if Clemson loses this game....the shit is going to hit the fan. You will see harsher words from the two of us than you ever have before.

There is no excuse for not obliterating Maryland. None.

See below for some clips of Terp football '10: