Maryland defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson tackles a Richmond player in the season opener on Sept. 5. The Terrapins 4-3 defensive scheme will be tested against a fast-paced Falcons offense Saturday. Featured photo courtesy of Greg Fiume and UMTerps.com.
Bowling Green’s high-octane offense barraged Tennessee with a whirlwind of 85 plays in 26 minutes of possession time during the team’s season opener on Sept. 5. The Falcons show no signs of slowing their pace when they come to College Park on Saturday.
To keep pace, Maryland focused on conditioning heading into the out-of-conference matchup.
Coach Dino Babers’ up-tempo, pass-heavy style will test Maryland’s newly minted 4-3 defensive scheme and a secondary that struggled early against Richmond.
“It’s just a challenge for us to challenge ourselves in practice everyday and make sure we’re running to the ball, get lined up when the offense gets lined up, make sure we’re ready to go by the time they’re ready to snap the ball,” middle linebacker Jermaine Carter Jr. said. “That’s just the biggest thing. If we’re ready to go we can play any defense, any call that coach gives us.”
Carter will suit up for only his second start Saturday, but after the redshirt sophomore’s 8-tackle performance in the season opener he said the rest of the Terps defense will look to him to set the tone and plays against Bowling Green.
“They understand the challenge,” defensive coordinator Keith Dudzinski said. “The numbers speak for themselves: 85 plays, 500-plus yards against Tennessee. I think the guys are well aware of what the challenges are.”
Maryland can also slow the Falcons’ offense by keeping their own on the field with long, time-eating drives. The backfield trio of Brandon Ross, Wes Brown and Ty Johnson – which ran for a combined 307 yards against Richmond – can eat up the clock with the running game.
“If [the offense is] on the field a little longer it will give us more of a breather,” Carter said. “We just got to be ready to go.”
Redshirt junior quarterback Perry Hills will look to improve his consistency in the passing game. Hills stretched the field to eight receivers against Richmond, but sporadically under threw many of his earlier passes.
“It’s just going to come down to executing in the red zone,” Hills said. “Running the ball, throwing the ball. We just have to be efficient.”
The Terps’ game plan is set: a fast, reactionary defense, and an offense that sustains drives in the air and on the ground. But come game day it’s time to execute and controlling the tempo on both sides of the ball may be easier said than done against Bowling Green’s disruptive offense.
“At the end of the day, it’s only going to get a little bit faster come Saturday,” Dudzinski said.
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