Terrapin Preview: The Battle Of The Border

By John Langley @Langley486

While many may not consider the Maryland and West Virginia matchup an intense rivalry, it still has all the makings of a rivalry that many do not realize.

With these schools being close in proximity to one another, the recruiting battles often get heated, as they attempt to sway local recruits from the D.C area to come play for their respective school. For years, West Virginia ambushed the area, luring nearly every bit of talent away from Maryland, on their way to many successful seasons. Recently, Maryland has began to turn the table since they hired Mike Locksley as the offensive coordinator and Brian Stewart as the defensive coordinator.

Luring star Wide Receiver Stefon Diggs is where it all began. Every player in the area knows who Stefon Diggs is, and many want a chance to come and play with him. The Maryland football team is building on the premise of “come help build something special” and so far, it has worked. Players like Deon Long, Wes Brown, Albert Reid, Ricardo Young, Zach Dancel, among many more have entered the Terps program in the last two season, all from the D.C area.

The recruiting battle is nice and flashy, but there is a game to be played on the field, and as of late, the Mountaineers have had the edge over the Terps. Last season, the Terps played a tough football game, only to fall to their border rivals, 31-21. Dating back to 2002, the Terps have lost seven of their last ten meetings with the Mountaineers.

This season, this is a game that means a lot for the Terps program. This season, the Terps are looking to prove that they belong in the upper class of the ACC. This is a game that they have had their eye on for a while, and is one with implications for the season, for both squads. If the Terps pull of the win, it will not only pull them to 4-0, it will also signify the work they have done recruiting the local players, building a stronger squad.

For the Mountaineers, much more is on the line. Coming into the game 2-1, this team is looking for their identity along with consistency. Coach Dana Holgorsen has played two quarterbacks this season, and it seems like he will go with Ford Childress against Maryland.

Holgorsen has the schemes for a very efficient offense, and so far, it has been solid. The Mountaineers rank 41st in passing, 51st in rushing, and 86th in points scored. The defense has been a big bright spot, ranking 16th in points scored against.

Ford Childress has began his season with 25 completions on 41 attempts for 359 yards, while tossing three touchdowns. The running game is led by Charles Sims who has carried the ball 52 times for 293 yards and two touchdowns. Childress will need Sims to run the ball effectively to take some pressure off, and to set up the play-action passing game.

The Mountaineer wide receivers have spread out the production. There are five receivers this season that have caught seven or more passes. The group is led by Ronald Carswell, who has eight receptions for 184 yards and a touchdown. Daikiel Shorts has the most receptions with 12, and has 151 yards and two touchdowns.

The Terps bring a ton of confidence to this game, riding in on a three game winning streak, albeit against weaker opponents. This team had their first test last Saturday against Connecticut, and played well. If they had limited the turnovers, the game is never close.

The bad news for Maryland is that they will be down another corner for the rest of the season, as Dexter McDougall injured his shoulder and required surgery. The Terps are down to senior Isaac Goins and true freshman Will Likely to start at corner. These two players are not the worry. The depth behind them is where the worry lays. Players such as Elvis Dennah, Jarrett Ross, among many more will have to step up and provide relief as the Terps deal with serious injury problems for a second straight season.

The positive for Maryland is the offense they are bringing in. The Terps offense currently ranks 28th in passing, 21st in rushing, and 30th in points scored per game at around 40 points per game. Quarterback CJ Brown continues to be effective passing the ball, going 49-73 on the season for 833 yards and throwing six touchdowns. The running game is equally impressive behind Brandon Ross. Ross has been consistent this season, rushing 46 times for 265 yards and just one score. CJ Brown has been as impressive running the ball as he has passing the ball, carrying the ball 31 times for 257 yards and scoring five touchdowns with his legs. Combined, Brown has eleven touchdowns for the offense.

The receivers are led by none other than Stefon Diggs, who has been a playmaker the entire season once again. He has 16 catches for 387 yards and three touchdowns, and is averaging 24.2 yards per catch. Deon Long has lined up across from Diggs this season, and has produced. Long has 15 receptions for 173 yards and a score. Wide receiver Nigel King went down last week with an injury, but there is promise behind him as Levern Jacobs steps in to take his spot. Jacobs has been solid this season, catching only five passes, but for 108 yards.

In a game of this magnitude, expect some hard hitting action. The game will be at M&T Bank stadium in Baltimore Maryland, the premier venue in all of Maryland. With the lights shining bright, and the stadium filled, this is where each team can make their name and build some momentum heading forward.

For the Mountaineers, this will be a game to prove the doubters wrong. They will look to get their offense going, knowing that their defense can hold up against Maryland for most of the game. If they can establish a good running game, and mix in solid passing to go along with their strong defense, they will have a great chance to come out with a victory.

For the Terps, they must find a way to slow down the opposing offense. The defense is good enough, but big stops will be needed going up against a tough defense. On offense, the Terps need to keep doing what they’re doing. Up-tempo style, solid passing and hammering away with the running game should help to wear down the defense.

The battle of the border will begin at 3:30 on ESPN U.