I think everyone who bleeds red and black (and gold and white for that matter) have a feeling deep inside that this game could get ugly. Really ugly. It is game a both schools want to win. Dana Holgorson has said it, Randy Edsall has said, and you can go back to Friedgen and RichRod. This game matters for local pride, but also and more importantly it helps with recruiting. Now if you ask me, WVU’s move to the Big 12 gives them a leg up in the recruiting department compared to their days in the Big East, but still it matters.
Unfortunately for Maryland, Geno Smith is playing like the Heisman candidate he was projected to be. So far this season (against Marshall and James Madison) he is 66 for 75 for 734 yards with 9 TD’s already. I don’t care who you are playing, that is pretty impressive. And what worries me is, I am not so sure the Maryland defense is significantly better than Marshall or James Madison. I hate to say it, but that’s what my gut tells me.
Sure Smith is a super talent, but he does not do it alone. The big name on offense is Marylander, Tavon Austin. However, if you look at the last two seasons, it could be argued that Stedman Bailey is the bigger threat. Last season, Bailey had more touchdowns and more yards per catch. Some of that can be attributed to the fact that WVU likes to get the ball out to Austin quickly so he can make plays with his legs, but still, the point is, Bailey is a threat. So far this season that trend continues as Bailey has 5 TD’s already.
If the offense isn’t enough to rattle you a little, think back to our last visit to Morgantown. The vision of Jamar Robinson and the offense going backwards on three consecutive plays for delay of games and/or false starts is terrifying for such a young team. Thankfully it will be a noon game, but still, the fans at WVU know this is a good team, with a very good group of exciting players. They will be packed in ready to tear up the Terps.
For Maryland, I think I will judge it a success if they can maintain their composure. I am not expecting a win, in fact I believe Vegas has the Terps as 27 point dogs, a number that sounds pretty accurate to me. Success means minimizing the self inflicted penalties. Make the plays they can. Show they have a backbone and get off the field on third downs. Sure all of those are easier said than done, but this team needs to start taking steps forward. Last week they minimized the turnovers from the week before. We are looking at small gains with this bunch. Gains that will hopefully payoff down the road.
One last request. Get Diggs the ball in creative ways. There is no doubt he is blossoming before our eyes. He is a difference maker out there. One with talent we may not see in College Park again for a long time. We have got to figure out a way for him to get his touches. He made some big plays against UConn, and it only leads to my frustration when he wasn’t out there on the 4th down play. Use him as a decoy if nothing else. We can’t count on getting him the ball in the punting game because I don’t see WVU punting the ball all that often. Maybe he can return a couple of kicks, but he needs touches, and a lot of them.
So if you felt uneasy about this game, there is a little more data to chew on to help add to that feeling. Sorry I feel that way this week, but I just think the Terps are running into a buzz saw. WVU is riding high, and would love nothing more than to send the Terps back to CP with a big fat loss.