Cavs go to the ground?
The numbers indicate Virginia should run the ball against Maryland. A lot. The Cavaliers rank No. 37 in the nation in rushing offense, averaging 186.4 yards per game. Maryland, meantime, has suffered injuries to several key defensive players. And on Wednesday, a defense that ranks better than only two Football Bowl Subdivision teams in the country against the run (234.8 yards per game allowed) lost starting defensive end David Mackall to suspension for a violation of team rules. Mackall was tied for the team lead in tackles for a loss and was second in sacks. Since 1937, Virginia is 22-8 against Maryland when rushing for at least 150 yards. The Cavaliers have tallied at least 150 rushing yards in all but one game this year.
Best foot forward
Virginia senior place kicker Robert Randolph began the season by converting 10 of 11 field goals. He has made 3 of 8 since then.During a 28-21 win Oct. 27 at Miami, Randolph missed a 32-yarder late in the third quarter. Fortunately for Randolph and the Cavaliers, recent games against Maryland typically have not been narrowly contested. The final margin was at least 10 points in eight of the past 10 meetings between these two programs. Maryland place kicker Nick Ferrara is 9 for 14 on field goals for the season.
Cavs look to toughen pass defense
While Virginia’s overall defensive performance has improved considerably this season, the Cavaliers’ pass defense has left something to be desired in recent weeks. Virginia allowed Miami to rack up 347 passing yards, though Coach Mike London partially dismissed that effort as a consequence of the size advantage held by 6-foot-5 Miami wide receiver Tommy Streeter. None of the four wideouts listed on Maryland’s depth chart stand taller than 6 feet 2. The Terrapins rank No. 10 in the ACC in passing offense (210.5 yards per game).
All about vellano
Junior defensive lineman Joe Vellano has made a valiant effort to keep Maryland’s injury-decimated defense afloat. He has two fumble recoveries this season — including one he returned for a touchdown in the season opener against Miami — and leads the FBS in tackles by a lineman (7.8 per game). His 20 tackles against Georgia Tech on Oct. 8 were the most by an FBS defensive lineman since the start of the 2005 season.
Turnovers could be key
The Terrapins have forced 20 turnovers, tied for 12th in the country. They average 1.13 more takeaways than their opponents per game, tied for eighth nationally (Virginia is 93rd in the same category).
Less yellow on the field
After both teams had penalty-filled 2010 seasons, both Maryland and Virginia have cleaned things up in 2011. The Terrapins, who set a school record for penalties last season (102), are tied for seventh in the nation in fewest penalties per game (four) and 10th in fewest penalty yards per game (36). Virginia, meanwhile, is 35th nationally in fewest penalties per game (5.25) and tied for 22nd in fewest penalty yards per game (42.25).
12:30 p.m. at Byrd Stadium.
TV: WTTG-5, WJZ-13. Radio: WWXT (92.7 FM), WWXX (94.3 FM), WJZ (105.7 FM, 1300 AM), WSPZ (570 AM), WFMD (930 AM), WTEM (980 AM), WPTX (1690 AM). Records: Terrapins 2-6, 1-4 ACC; Cavaliers 5-3, 2-2.