Terrapin Tuesdays: Maryland’s First Real Test.

By John Langley @Langley486

With two impressive blowout victories to open up the season for Maryland, they get their first test this Saturday when they travel to Connecticut to take on the Huskies.

While the Huskies will not present the biggest test for the Terps heading into ACC play in a few weeks, this is a game against a bigger opponent, and will give a better gauge of how far the Terps have truly come.

The Huskies opened up their season two weeks ago with a showdown against the Towson Tigers, and opponent they were expected to defeat. This did not happen, though. The Huskies lost 33-18, and their defense got run over by the Tigers offense. In that game, the Huskies quarterback, Chandler Whitmer, completed 16 of his 28 pass attempts for 26 yards and two touchdowns, and threw one interception. Lyle McCombs led the rushing attack with 17 carries for 76 yards.

Geremy Davis and Shakim Phillips were the top two receivers for the Huskies, each hauling in five receptions. Davis totaled 100 yards on his receptions, while Phillips totaled 77 yards and both receiving touchdowns.

The Huskies have the capability to put some points up, but they aren’t what many would call a “high-powered” offense. They rely on their defense to make key stops and keep their offense in it long enough to make meaningful scores.

Against the Terps, the Husky offense may need to change that approach. The Terps come in with the 27th ranked passing offense and 19th ranked rushing attack. They are 24th in the nation in points scored and 15th in points against. The Huskies will want to get on the board quickly, and try to hold down the Terps offense.

Even though the Terps have played lower level opponents, their offensive output is still impressive. Quarterback C.J Brown has completed 34 of his 45 pass attempts for 556 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions. The rushing attack has seemed to get a big boost this season, in contrast to last season, with Brandon Ross taking 28 carries for 170 yards and a touchdown. Brown has also done a lot in the rushing attack, racking up 135 yards and four touchdowns. Albert Reid has been the big surprise this season, splitting carries with Ross and carrying the ball 16 times for 101 yards and a touchdown.

The receiving corps is led by their two stars Stefon Diggs and Deon Long. Diggs has hauled in 11 catches for 277 yards and two touchdowns, while Long has reeled in 12 passes for 134 yards and a touchdown. Diggs has displayed his playmaking ability, taking short passes for long gains, and making some one-handed grabs along the way. Long has been exactly what the Terps envisioned. He is big-bodied and knows how to go get the football in the air.

The Terps offense wants to get the tempo going, scoring early and often. The Terps offense is faster and more athletic than the Huskies defense, so if they can get them out in space with their playmakers, they should win the battle. Do not sleep on the Huskies though, because if they can hold the Terps offense down for a while, they can put up some points and play the game they want to.

After seeing Towson run the ball effectively on the Husky defense, the Terps will most likely come out running the ball to see if they can impose their will and get big gains. This will set up the passing game with play-action.

The Terps are looking for respect. Many pundits believe this is just a fluke and the Terps can’t hang with the big-time opponents. The Huskies may not be one of those premier teams, but this is a game that can help put the Terps into more of the spotlight in the ACC. It is tough to buy a team who has beaten low-profile opponents, but the Terps believe they have the talent and skill to hang with the bigger opponents, and this is a game that can propel them forward.

The season is all about building confidence and getting better each week. The Terps have done that so far, and can continue to build on that, Look for the Terps to come out firing on Saturday night, especially with coach Randy Edsall returning to UConn three years after leaving.