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Rush Hour: Can Terps Shut Down Hokies?

Our intrepid Commonwealth correspondent Zach Berman has a story in today's paper that makes clear one fact that might be overlooked by the casual football fan: No matter who has played quarterback this season, the Virginia Tech offense has struggled. The Hokies averaged 160 rushing yards per game, which ranks 51st nationally. That's not bad, except when you consider that by making the move to Tyrod Taylor at quarterback, Coach Frank Beamer was essentially mortgaging consistency in the passing game for a spark of big-play potential. Virginia Tech ranks 113th nationally in passing offense at 120 yards per game, and in total offense, the Hokies averaged 280 yards per game, 112th nationally and dead last in the ACC.

So with Taylor at least compromised health-wise if not out entirely, what to do about the running game? Move fullback Jahre Cheeseman back to tailback. And play the Terps.

Maryland has surrendered 137.25 rushing yards per game, which ranks 58th nationally, but five of Maryland's eight opponents this season have rushed for more than their season average against the Terps, and one of the three exceptions, Delaware, is usually facing division I-AA competition. And in the other two cases, Cal and Wake, the opponents fell behind Maryland by so much so early, they had to throw the ball more in an attempt to come back in a hurry.

Here are the numbers:

Opponent...........Season........vs. Md.
Delaware............146.44.........121
Mid. Tenn. St......86.0.............118
California............171.75.........38
E. Michigan........161.0...........171
Clemson.............123.38.........221
Virginia...............103.22.........201
Wake Forest.......109.38.........73
N.C. State...........155.0...........155

As with all stats, the numbers don't tell the complete story. True, Cal threw the ball a lot because Maryland jumped to a big lead. But part of the reason the Terps were able to do so was because they silenced Jahvid Best, the Golden Bears tailback some gullible sportswriters were comparing to Reggie Bush. And Clemson finished with a big number, but halftime adjustments in the rushing defense were key to the Terps' comeback effort.

Regardless of who plays quarterback, Virginia Tech likely will struggle to throw the ball (the rookie performances of Eddie Royal and Josh Morgan are showing just how much the Hokies lost at that position.) If Maryland can avoid turnovers and big mistakes in special teams (a big "if" against the Hokies), then a solid rushing defense will give the Terps a good chance to get a big win on the road.

By Matthew Rennie  |  November 5, 2008; 8:22 AM ET
Categories:  Football  
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Comments

Don't ignore the fact that Virginia Tech has been awful on Special Teams, which is usually their strength.

They had a kick blocked vs. ECU, and a punt returned for a TD by BC. Virginia ranks LAST in the ACC in net punting (30.6 yards per punt) while the Terps rank FIRST (38.8 yards per punt).

Posted by: FeartheNoodle | November 5, 2008 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Cosh makes the worst QBs in the country look like All Americans.

Why do we sit back in a read-react defense?
It's exactly like the prevent, it prevents your from winning.

We must attack their inexperienced QBs from different directions early and often.

Posted by: SKINSTERPS | November 5, 2008 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Let us all say a prayer that Virginia Tech beats Maryland.

Prediction:

Virginia Tech -- 37
Maryland -- 13

I am extremely happy that Maryland stopped recruiting Tavon Austin - too much of an academic risk.

Go Tar Heels !


Posted by: hclark1 | November 6, 2008 1:57 PM | Report abuse

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