Who: Terps (1-0) vs. Old Dominion (0-1)
When: 4:05 p.m.
Where: Byrd Stadium.
DMV radio: WTEM (980 AM), WJZ (105.7 FM).
Satellite radio: Sirius Channel 136.
Coaches: Terps – Randy Edsall (third season, 7-18). Monarchs – Bobby Wilder (fifth season, 38-11)
Series: First meeting
Years ago, Taylor Heinicke was a scrawny recruit from suburban Atlanta who committed to the first scholarship offer he received. Saturday, the Old Dominion quarterback will lead his Monarchs into Byrd Stadium, a Water Payton Award and Division I record under his belt, seeking the biggest win in program history. Maryland rolled over a hapless Florida International group last Saturday, but will it have a tougher time with the Monarchs, who are transitioning to the Football Bowl Subdivision? Old Dominion plays five FBS games this year before moving full-time into Conference USA. Its players say they’re treating these matchups as bowl games, opportunities to make their year and prove they belong.
Maryland’s 33-point blowout of the Panthers raised the expectations bar a tad higher, especially after quarterback C.J. Brown torched FIU’s defense with five total touchdowns. The Terrapins are still favored heavily against ODU, as they should be with far superior athleticism and talent. According to the Virginian-Pilot, just one Monarch turned down a high school scholarship offer from Maryland, and that player transferred to Old Dominion from Vanderbilt. But FCS upsets were all the rage during the season’s first weekend, and the Terps would be wise to avoid looking past this Saturday’s visitors.
1) Can Brown continue the magic? Brown was nearly perfect against FIU, completing a program-record 87 percent of his pass attempts and showing no ill effects of his offseason ACL tear last August with two rushing touchdowns. Old Dominion’s defense might be sounder than the young Panthers, but it still allowed 52 points last weekend in a loss to up-tempo East Carolina. If Maryland wants to push the pace, there’s no reason Brown can’t repeat his performance.
2) How will the defense handle Heinicke? Heinicke’s success stems from his consistency. He’s not the flashiest quarterback, but he checks expertly at the line of scrimmage and completed exactly 68.7 percent of passes in both his freshman and sophomore seasons. Old Dominion works fast, at 21 seconds per snap last season, and often relies on Heinicke’s decision-making ability with four or five wide receivers running one of just 10 plays. Maryland cornerback Jeremiah Johnson’s status is still unknown, but it’s not looking good after he hobbled off the field against FIU. That means Isaac Goins slides into the No. 2 role and true freshmen Will Likely and Jarrett Ross might be tested on nickel and dime packages. The Terps don’t need to stop Heinicke outright, just disrupt him enough to allow Brown and the offense to work.
3) Will Maryland’s running game get going? If Saturday becomes a shootout, the Terps’ rushing attack might again take a back seat. But Maryland will mix things up early, and that means giving both Brandon Ross and Albert Reid their touches. Neither was particularly effective against FIU, but Edsall and his staff attributed that to some missed zone reads by Brown. Besides, if a quarterback tops 280 yards passing and 100 yards rushing in less than three quarters of work, there’s not much room for the running backs to contribute, too. But the Terps will need Ross and Reid down the road, and better to get them going now.
730: Passing yards for Heinicke against New Hampshire last season, a Division I record and one yard shy of the NCAA all-division record.
2008: The last time a Maryland opponent (California) topped 400 passing yards.
8: Years since a Terrapins player accounted for five touchdowns in a game before Brown did so last weekend.
“This is our game. It’s one of the biggest games of the season for us. We definitely want to prove to everybody who we are. It’s another game. We want to take it as just another game.” – Maryland cornerback Dexter McDougle.
“I’ve worked with a bunch of different people, quarterback training in the offseason, played against Joe Flacco in the CAA, and in person he’s the most talented quarterback I’ve ever seen, as far as mentally and physically. He’s like the Russell Wilson type people are seeing now. He’s making every throw, doing it with his legs, can handle everything mentally off the field. He’s just the total package.” – Old Dominion quarterbacks coach Ron Whitcomb on Heinicke.
THE SONG OF SATURDAY
“The Rhythm” by The Cat Empire
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