Maryland's Josh Allen embarrassed Virginia's defense last season, running for 257 yards, the 11th-best total in ACC history. The Terps added a new wrinkle for Allen last week against Florida State, when he caught a short pass from sophomore Joel Statham and ran 72 yards for a touchdown, Maryland's longest play of the season.
Thumbs Up to Fridge
Despite the teams' intense rivalry, Virginia Coach Al Groh this week commended Maryland Coach Ralph Friedgen for his patience with Statham. The quarterback struggled mightily, throwing nine interceptions and only seven touchdowns before leading the Terps to an improbable upset of then-No. 5 Florida State last week. "From what I could hear or see, there were lots of people who were trying to do Coach Ralph Friedgen's job for him, by picking his quarterback for a number of weeks," Groh said. "He had the patience and confidence in the player, and, obviously, made a very good decision in how he handled the situation."
Kick It Away
Virginia's Sean Johnson is averaging only 34.5 yards on 22 punts, and the Cavaliers rank last among 117 Division I-A teams in net punting with a 28.25-yard average. But whether by skill or good fortune, Johnson has actually done a good job of keeping his punts away from opponents, as teams have returned only nine punts for an average of 12.7 yards. He'll have to do a good job of angling his punts the next two weeks, as Maryland's Steve Suter is the ACC's career leading punt returner, and Miami's Devin Hester has returned three punts for touchdowns this season, the most in the nation.
Stopping the Run
Maryland's stout play on defense has been overshadowed by its ineffectiveness on offense. In the past eight weeks, the Terps have climbed from No. 46 to No. 21 in total defense in Division I-A. Virginia ran for 348 yards in its 37-16 win at Duke on Oct. 23, the highest total in the ACC this season. Since 1957, the Cavaliers have lost 15 consecutive games to Maryland when running for 100 yards or fewer; they've won nine games in a row when running for 150 yards or more.
-- Mark Schlabach