College Park, MD (SportsNetwork.com) - Looking to put their humbling loss to
Florida State in the rearview mirror, the now ninth-ranked Clemson Tigers
invade College Park this weekend for an ACC showdown against the Maryland
It was supposed to be a watershed moment last weekend for the ACC, as Death
Valley served as the backdrop for the first-ever top-five matchup there.
However, with sloppy play in the first half, the hometown Tigers buried
themselves in a hole they could not dig out of, falling to the Seminoles
Dabo Swinney expressed his dismay following the loss.
"When you spot a team that good 17 points, it's a huge uphill challenge,"
Swinney said. "We never could swing the momentum back in our favor, and
turnovers were a huge part of that."
With the loss, Clemson is now 6-1 on the season and a game behind FSU
(in the loss column) in the ACC Atlantic Division.
Randy Edsall's Terrapins are sporting a 5-2 overall record, but league play
has been much tougher. Maryland is 1-2 in ACC play and has also felt the sting
of a lopsided loss to Florida State (63-0). More recently, the team struggled
at Wake Forest last weekend, dropping a 34-10 decision to the Demon Deacons.
Clemson holds a 33-26-2 edge in a series that has played continuously since
1952. It marks the longest active continuous rivalry against an ACC foe for
either school. The Tigers have won the last three meetings, including last
season's 45-10 rout in Death Valley.
There haven't been many games like the one Tahj Boyd played last week, as
Clemson's All-American signal caller struggled mightily against the Seminoles.
Despite the poor performance, Clemson is still generating a hefty 487.6 yards
of total offense, with Boyd the centerpiece of it all.
Even after a dreadful outing, Boyd is still completing well over 60 percent of
his passes in 2013, for 1,939 yards with a 4:1 ratio of touchdowns to
interceptions (16:4). It has definitely helped that All-American wideout Sammy
Watkins has returned to his freshman form. The now junior leads Clemson in
receptions (44), receiving yards (650) and TD catches (5). The team lacks a
true workhorse back like in years past, but tailback Roderick McDowell (5.0
ypc) has been solid in spots.
Boyd took full responsibility for the team's loss to FSU.
"I just didn't perform the way I was capable," Boyd said. "As a leader, it's
my job to go out and lead and perform, and I just didn't do that tonight.
There were a couple moments that I would like to have back, but you just have
to keep on working."
Just when the Tigers started to catch up in terms of defensive production, as
game like last week's comes around and puts things in a little better
perspective. The Tigers' numbers defensively are still quite good, despite
allowing FSU to march up and down the field, as they are yielding 376.3 yards
per game. With 27 sacks on the season, the pass rush has been a big reason for
Leading the way in that regard is defensive end Vic Beasley (19 tackles), who
paces the team in both TFL (12.0) and sacks (9.0). Linebackers Stephone
Anthony (71 tackles, 8.5 TFL, 4.0 sacks) and Spencer Shuey (70 tackles, 4.0
TFL) are sideline-to-sideline contributors.
Much like the Tigers, the Terrapins' offensive numbers overall convey a much
different story than a few isolated games in conference play. Maryland is
still generating a healthy 439.9 yards per game.
Senior QB C.J. Brown has been inconsistent. He has completed 63.5 percent of
his throws this season, for 1,262 yards, with seven TDs and three INTs, but he
was pulled last week after returning from a concussion, making way for
sophomore Caleb Rowe (51.8 percent completion percentage), who has also had
his ups and downs this season. To make matters worse, the passing game will be
missing star wideout Stefon Diggs (83.9 ypg, 34 catches, for 587 yards and
three TDs) and Deon Long going forward, as both left the game with leg
injuries against Wake Forest.
Edsall addressed the injuries after the game.
"It's not good. Deon broke his tibia and fibula, both bones in the lower leg.
He's got to go home tonight and probably have surgery later tonight when we
get home. Stefon fractured his fibula so there will probably be surgery
sometime this week for him."
Maryland's defense has played to mixed reviews this season, but the Terps do
enter this contest allowing just 354.4 yards per game, while racking up 19
sacks and 13 takeaways.
The team is led by its linebacker corps. Junior L.A. Goree paces the team with
46 tackles, 4.0 TFL, one sack and one forced fumble. Senior Marcus Whitfield
(28 tackles, 9.5 TFL, 6.5 sacks) is a playmaker upfield, while junior Cole
Farrand (44 tackles, 3.5 TFL, one forced fumble) rounds out the trio.
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