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November 17, 2011

In the Trenches: Maryland

This season has been up and down for Wake Forest (5-5, 4-3 ACC), but a win over Maryland (2-8, 1-5 ACC) Saturday would make the Demon Deacons bowl-eligible.

The Terrapins have struggled immensely in Randy Edsall's first year on the job after a 9-4 finish in Ralph Friedgen's final campaign last season that included a 62-14 thrashing of the Deacs in College Park.

The Terrapin Times publisher Keith S. Cavanaugh took Deacons Illustrated in the trenches for an inside look at the Terps.

1) Maryland has been hit with an onslaught of injuries this season. What is this week's injury report, and how significant of an impact will it be for the Terrapins? "Well, the injury report does not come out until Thursday night, but a new injury in the Notre Dame game was true freshman linebacker Alex Twine, who for his efforts in that game was still named ACC Freshman of the Week, so he has been playing well, and hopefully the rookie can play against Wake. Other than that, of course including QB Danny O'Brien's broken arm, the Terps have reported no new ones. Twine did not practice on Tuesday, and he will be a game-time decision. If he cannot go, the Terps may play true freshman Cole Farrand, who has already burned his 'shirt this season on special teams."

2) Aside from injuries and suspensions in your opinion what is Maryland struggling most with in Randy Edsall's first year on the job? "When you have a new head coach, new staff, new schemes on all three units, well there can be an adjustment period, not to mention a major sea change off the field in terms of new rules and enforcement of those rules under Randy Edsall. More tangibly, QB Danny O'Brien has not looked comfortable in the new spread offense, as he is a pro-style QB, though C.J. Brown, this week's starter, ran it in high school so has some history there. Overall, the Terps may not have the speed athletes to run the spread effectively. Also, the defense is still ramping up in the new 'quarters' scheme, especially in coverage, where it has been weak. But it is a marked change from Ralph Friedgen to Randy Edsall in the overall program for sure, and the adjustment is still going on."

3) Wake Forest is concerned about C.J. Brown's dual-threat ability at quarterback. What is the main key to slowing him down? "He is a tremendous threat with his feet, while a bit undervalued in the passing game, especially when the Terps get into a quick rhythm like they did Week One against Miami. Brown is best in the three-step, quick rhythmic passing game, while he is very challenging in the zone read as a runner. But he is the only healthy scholarship QB on campus, so you have to hope he doesn't run it too much!"

4) What matchup(s) is/are Edsall and his staff most concerned about? "The Terps haven't shown they can really stop anyone of late, so one would think Wake will put up a lot of points on the Terps defense, which has been reeling for much of the season save for the Georgia Tech game, where they neutralized the triple option. They are better in tight space than out in space defending, thus they were able to bottle up Tech's offense, but from there they have struggled, of late especially in the run game."

5) The Demon Deacons were in a similar position last season that the Terps are in now, really only having their pride to play for and be a spoiler for someone else's post-season aspirations. Is that Maryland's approach this week? "Yeah, playing spoiler, playing for next year with so many freshmen and redshirt freshman playing significant reps this season, and wanting to lock down jobs for next year."

6) Outside of the household names for the Terrapins, like Brown, Kevin Dorsey, Quintin McCree, Davin Meggett and Joe Vellano who are some key players Wake needs to be on the lookout for and why? "Well, depending on whether RB D.J. Adams' reps go up or down after last week's extended play vs. Notre Dame, he could be an x-factor if he plays as he has emerged as Maryland's hardest runner and best after contact back, though he has gotten few reps based on a variety of reasons. Also, TE Matt Furstenburg is a real threat after-the-catch, if they can get the ball in his hands more."

7) Maryland has had three ranked teams on the ropes this season in West Virginia, Georgia Tech and Clemson, so everyone knows this team can play. What have been the most noticeable factors to the Terps success in those games along with the two they've won? "They have gotten into an offensive rhythm at times, especially Miami, where other games they can never get offense, defense and special teams to be effective in any one game. Just haven't been able to get all the units on the same page, same game, or for two halves. Inconsistency has ruled the day all season, along with injuries. Also, they have had terribly slow starts in many games, digging holes too deep to come out of."

8) Which uniform combination do you expect the Terps to don Saturday, and what's been the players and fans' attitudes toward the new vast variety of fashion statements made this season? "Well, they announce that every Wednesday night, by captains' vote, so we will see tomorrow night. But I wouldn't mind seeing the white on white, I like that one, and they haven't used it yet."


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