Clemson, SC (Sports Network) - The 10th-ranked Clemson Tigers continue their
quest for a second straight ACC title, as they welcome the Maryland Terrapins
to Death Valley for a conference showdown at Memorial Stadium this weekend.
Dabo Swinney's Tigers took advantage of Florida State's bye week and crept
into a first-place tie with the Seminoles in the Atlantic Division with last
week's 56-20 rout of Duke in Durham. With the win, Clemson moved to 8-1
overall and a 5-1 mark in-conference.
Swinney has been pleased at how his team has developed.
"Overall we continue to respond and play as a team." said Swinney following
the win in Durham. "It feels great to get a fourth win away from home."
Randy Edsall has certainly had his hands full in 2012, as finding someone to
lineup under center has become a full-time job. Maryland has lost four signal-
callers this season and actually had a converted linebacker start at
quarterback in last weekend's 33-13 loss to Georgia Tech. The loss dropped
Maryland to 4-5 overall and 2-3 in league play.
Edsall knew his team was facing a stiff challenge against Tech.
"We knew it was going to be tough going into the game," Edsall said. "We also
knew that we were going to have to play great on defense to keep it a very
low-scoring game. We weren't able to do that."
Clemson leads the all-time series 32-26-2. These two teams have met every year
since 1952, the longest active continuous rivalry for either school in ACC
Maryland's struggles under center are well documented this year, culminating
in true freshman Shawn Petty getting the start last weekend against the Yellow
Jackets. Petty completed just 50 percent of his passes, for 115 yards,
although he did throw two TD passes. Still, he was guilty of one interception
and two fumbles in the game.
The team's only real offensive weapon is freshman Stefon Diggs, who is having
a big year in his first in College Park, leading the team in receptions (43),
receiving yards (721) and TD catches (6).
While the offense has failed to find an identity, the Maryland defense has
been one of the nation's best, limiting foes to just 301.7 yards per game
However, the unit suffered a crucial injury of its own against Georgia Tech,
as leading tackler Demetrius Hartsfield (78 tackles, 7.0 TFLs, 2.5 sacks, one
INT and two fumble recoveries) tore an ACL and is done for the year. The
Terrapins must rally now behind players like defensive lineman Joe Vellano (53
tackles, 14.0 TFLs, 6.0 sacks) and linebacker Darin Drakeford (44 tackles, 9.5
TFLs, 6.0 sacks).
The Tigers will present all kinds of problems for the Maryland defense this
week, as Clemson is one of the nation's most productive squads, averaging a
hefty 42.7 ppg (seventh nationally), while churning out 522.4 yards per game
Tajh Boyd is the conductor of the offense, completing 67.8 percent of his
throws thus far, for 2,680 yards, with 25 touchdown passes. It definitely
helps to have one of the nation's premier receiving duos at his disposal, with
DeAndre Hopkins (62 receptions, 1,037 yards, 13 TDs) and Sammy Watkins (38
receptions, 501 yards, two TDs) running wild downfield.
The ground game isn't as potent as the pass game, but tailback Andre Ellington
(780 yards, 5.2 ypc, seven TDs) has been solid in creating offensive balance.
The Clemson defense is a step or two behind the offense and has struggled with
consistency, allowing a generous 412.3 yards of total offense per game. The
team has had real problems stuffing the run (172.3 ypg).
The linebacking corps highlights the defensive effort, with Jonathan Willard
(66 tackles, 7.0 TFLs), Stephone Anthony (64 tackles) and Spencer Shuey (61
tackles) being the top three tacklers on the team.
The Sports Network