The Terrapins have played well against the Tigers in the past. And this is a typical game in which Maryland usually plays above its head and has a chance to pull off the upset. I see the same type of situation unfolding Saturday night. Maryland may turn in its best performance of the entire season.
I just don’t see it being enough against this particular Clemson team. I have been harsh on the Clemson program in the past because it would find ways to stumble against inferior teams despite being superior in talent. I am indeed sold on this year’s team. For the Tigers to beat Auburn, Florida State and Virginia Tech in consecutive games, that should be enough to erase most doubts about their psyche. The Tigers may lose this season — the Georgia Tech game will be a must-see affair — but they have too much talent to let this one slip away.
Quarterback Tajh Boyd and wide receiver Sammy Watkins are perfect pieces in offensive coordinator Chad Morris’s offense, which hopes to get 80 plays per game. But the Tigers have an abundance of talent surrounding those two, including at tight end (Dwayne Allen), running back (Andre Ellington) and other receiver positions. Maryland’s defense played an outstanding game against Georgia Tech’s triple-option. Outstanding. The performance was dependent on staying true to assignments. But this game will test defenders, many of them young, against players with superior athleticism. The Terrapins could start anywhere from three to five freshmen on defense. They are particularly thin at linebacker. Alex Twine has potential, but he won’t turn 18 until December. Demetrius Hartsfield is out with an undisclosed injury. Kenny Tate, who did not play against Georgia Tech, is listed as doubtful again with an undisclosed injury. Last week, a school spokesperson confirmed to me that Tate has a physical ailment. I wanted to make sure that Tate was hurt.
Maryland’s offense is the biggest mystery. We all know the story lines, subplots and question marks. I’m thinking that C.J. Brown will get his first career start over Danny O’Brien, though nothing is official until we see the first snap against Clemson. I did have this thought: While Brown is mobile, he also benefited somewhat from the element of surprise against Georgia Tech, which presumably expected to primarily see O’Brien under center. The tape is now out on Brown. Clemson had to prepare for two different quarterbacking styles, but now its defensive players know more of what to expect with Brown. And no disrespect to Georgia Tech’s defense, but the Tigers have more speed and athleticism on that side of the ball to have a better chance at containing Brown.
All that said, Maryland hangs in to the end. But a late Ellington touchdown and a big play by defensive end Andre Branch prove to be the difference.
Clemson 26, Maryland 23
Your predictions and thoughts? And how would you feel if Brown started at QB?