Maryland football vs. Georgia Tech: Previewing the game

November 2, 2012

(Associated Press)

THE INFO

Who: Maryland (4-4, 2-2 ACC) vs. Georgia Tech (3-5, 2-3).

When: 12:30 p.m.

Where: Byrd Stadium.

Washington-Baltimore TV: WTTG (Channel 5), WJZ (Channel 13). If you’re in an area that isn’t televising the game, it’ll be available online at ESPN3.

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

Satellite radio: XM Channel 192, Sirius Channel 132.

Coaches: Terps – Randy Edsall (second season, 6-14). Yellow Jackets – Paul Johnson (fifth season, 37-24)

Series: Georgia Tech leads 14-6, but is 5-5 on the road.

THE SCRIPT

Is there anything else but the quarterback situation for Maryland? The Terps are getting more attention now than they have all season, if only because of the well-documented absurdity of the fact that four quarterbacks have suffered season-ending injuries, including three in the past two games. So that leaves Shawn Petty, a converted linebacker and a two-star recruit out of Eleanor Roosevelt High School, to assume the torch for Maryland, which will transition into a rough three-game stretch to end the season with this game against the Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech, meanwhile, enters on the heels of a 24-point blowout loss to BYU, but is looking to ride its fourth-ranked rushing attack back to .500 in conference play.

THE QUESTIONS        

1. Petty’s time? A bruiser who ran the read option in high school, Petty won’t be asked to do too much in his debut. Instead, expect a hefty dose of running plays, screen-pass dump-offs and short crossing routes to Stefon Diggs from offensive coordinator Mike Locksley. Barring any unforeseen injuries, which at this point seem far more likely than not, Petty will be Maryland’s quarterback from here on out, navigating the Terps against Georgia Tech, Clemson, Florida State and North Carolina. Mistakes will happen, as they do with every true freshman, but Petty can make a statement against the Yellow Jackets’ average defense (they rank 73rd nationally in yards allowed per game).

2. Can Maryland stop the triple option? Everything Georgia Tech does offensively revolves around the triple option. Quarterback Tevin Washington has 15 rushing touchdowns this season and is averaging 4.1 yards per carry, but got benched last week in favor of true freshman Vad Lee (35 carries for 262 yards and four touchdowns). Coach Paul Johnson hasn’t tipped his hand concerning his two quarterbacks, but Maryland’s defense should expect a hefty dose of both. The Terps did a solid job keeping Georgia Tech out of the end zone during last year’s 21-16 loss in Atlanta, when Joe Vellano recorded an absurd 20 tackles. Getting push on the offensive line and limiting the explosive play will do wonders for Maryland’s chances on Saturday.  

3. Who will step up on offense? Petty will certainly need help from his surrounding cast on offense. Diggs, who ranks ninth nationally with 169.3 all-purpose yards per game, will need big gains after the catch, while both Nigel King and Levern Jacobs will need to step up in the receiving game. Maryland’s patchwork offensive line should return Bennett Fulper and Sal Conaboy to the rotation, at the very least to add some fresh bodies to help protect Petty. Wes Brown, meanwhile, will need to continue to find holes and use his strength for yards after contact, eating up clock and keeping Georgia Tech’s offense off the field.

THE STATS

234.15: Difference, in yards per game, between Maryland’s rushing defense (77.6 ypg) and Georgia Tech’s rushing offense (311.75 ypg).

2: Rushing touchdowns needed by Washington to tie the school and ACC career records of 35 by a quarterback.

7: Schools to have started three quarterbacks this season. Only Southern Mississippi (four) has started more quarterbacks than Maryland. 

THE QUOTES

“You look at the big picture, and it feels like you’re in a movie. You can’t script this stuff.” – Maryland center Evan Mulrooney.

“We’ve had some injuries in the secondary the last few years, but nothing like that at one position.” – Georgia Tech defensive coordinator Charles Kelly.

THE SONG OF SATURDAY

Messiah Ward,” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.

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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