Maryland football vs. Virginia: Previewing the game

October 12, 2012

Fist-pumping from Randy Edsall on Saturday would probably be good news for Terps fans.

THE INFO

Who: Terps (3-2) at Virginia (2-4)

When: Saturday, 3:09 p.m.

Where: Scott Stadium, Charlottesville

TV: Comcast SportsNet

DMV radio: WTEM (980 AM), WJZ (105.7 FM).

Satellite radio: XM Channel 193, Sirius Channel 136.

Coaches: Terps – Randy Edsall (second season, 5-12). Cavaliers – Mike London (third season, 14-17)

Series: Maryland leads 42-32-2.

THE SCRIPT

The latest installment of a longtime border-state rivalry will kick off with a drastically different tone from when the two teams met last season. Virginia, winners of a 31-13 blowout at Byrd Stadium, are now reeling from four straight losses, struggling to find an offensive identity, wondering how they’re on pace to give up the most points by a Cavaliers team since 1975. Maryland, on the other hand, is confident after moving to 1-0 in the ACC with a sluggish, defense- and penalty-heavy 19-14 win over Wake Forest. Contrast that with last season, when the Cavaliers made the Chick-Fil-A Bowl and knocked Maryland out from bowl contention along the way in early November. Now, the Terps could be in prime position to become bowl-bound if they take care of business against Virginia and move to 4-2 on the season. Time still exists for Virginia to turn things around, especially with Wake Forest coming to town on Oct. 20.

THE QUESTIONS                                     

  1. Road warriors? The road team has won five of the past six meetings in this rivalry, and the Terps have played exceptionally well away from Byrd Stadium this season. A 31-21 loss at West Virginia was likely far closer than most expected, even if many Maryland players felt they let one slip away, while an early-season win at Temple was a pleasant offensive outburst. But this weekend is Virginia’s homecoming, so it will be up to the Terps to play spoiler to the Wahoo faithful.
  1. Which Perry will break loose? Virginia running back Perry Jones torched the Maryland defense last season, but the Terps are among the nation’s best at containing the run in 2012. Maryland quarterback Perry Hills has been shaky at times and unflappable at others, flashing promise with a 305-yard, three-touchdown career effort against West Virginia but taking a step back versus Wake Forest. A young Cavaliers secondary has struggled this season, but Maryland’s defense has been susceptible to allowing explosive plays. Each Perry represents an offensive key for his respective team.
  1. How will the offensive line hold up? Maryland has struggled to get push from its offensive line, mistakes abounding as Hills has taken 19 sacks and the running game has been unable to get anything productive going thus far. Starting offensive linemen Justin Gilbert and Andrew Zeller were listed on the injury report, as were former starters De’Onte Arnett and Nick Klemm. Granted, they were all listed as probable, so don’t expect any absences, but if they’re not at full strength, then Virginia’s defensive front seven could have a field day, blitzing the backfield to take pressure off a struggling secondary.

THE STATS

1: Times since 1999 that Maryland has held opponents to less than 300 yards in four of the season’s first five games. That’s this season.

Negative-12: Virginia’s turnover margin, the worst in the country.

77: Meetings between Maryland and Virginia, including Saturday, the most between Maryland and any other school. They have met every season since 1957.

THE QUOTES

“It’s not really a long story, like 20 years ago they stole our turtle or something.” – Gilbert, on the Maryland-Virginia rivalry.

“I’ve seen this defense before and they’re playing it right. They’ve been coached really well. The players look like they understand how to do it and I think it’s going to be an impressive challenge for us because no one has quite figured out how to run the ball on them yet.” — Virginia offensive coordinator Bill Lazor.

THE SONG OF SATURDAY

THE POLL

Alex Prewitt covers the Washington Capitals. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt or email him at alex.prewitt@washpost.com.
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Alex Prewitt · October 11, 2012