Maryland's defense poses threat to West Virginia
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Maryland will bring the most experienced defense West Virginia has seen this season into Milan Puskar Stadium for a noon kickoff today.
The big question is whether the Terrapins (2-1) can provide the kind of test the No. 8 Mountaineers need in their final non-conference game before the long-awaited Big 12 Conference schedule opens with a game against Baylor.
According to West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen, they will.
"Are they better than the teams we've played? We're certainly expecting that," said Holgorsen. "They are talented. They have experienced guys on defense, they have talented secondary guys that tackle well and cover well. Their [linebackers] are physical and they're experienced."
- Matchup: No. 8 West Virginia (2-0) vs. Maryland (2-1), noon today, Milan Puskar Stadium, Morgantown, W.Va., Mountaineers are favored by 27.
- TV, Radio, Internet: FX; Sirius Channel 94 and XM 190; Mountaineer Sports Network.
- West Virginia: Has won the past six meetings in 48-game series that dates to 1919. ... QB Geno Smith is 66 for 75 in passing, with nine touchdowns passes. ... WR Tavon Austin averages 154 all-purpose yards per game.
- Maryland: Offense run by freshman QB Perry Hills from Central Catholic. ... WR Stefon Diggs ranks in the top 25 in the country in all-purpose yards (147 per game), punt-return average (13.8) and kick-return average (30.75). ... Ranked No. 8 in Division I-A in total defense (227.3 yards per game), No. 14 against the rush (2.58 yards per carry) and average 2.67 sacks per game.
- Hidden stat: The Mountaineers biggest gains have come on second down this season. They have run 51 such plays for 460 yards for an average of 9 yards per play.
West Virginia has cruised on offense, winning by a combined score of 111-22 in two games.
The Terrapins survived I-AA William and Mary, 7-6; beat Temple, 36-27; but lost to Connecticut, 24-21, last week.
Maryland is ranked No. 8 in Division I-A in total defense, giving up 227.3 yards per game. The Terrapins are ranked No. 14 against the rush, holding opponents to 2.58 yards per carry, and have averaged 2.67 sacks per game.
Holgorsen noted that defensive lineman Joe Vellano is a force worthy of much attention.
"The Vellano kid is a guy we were concerned with last year. He's a big, thick, try-hard guy. Defensively, it's about the same people we played against last year. Every one of them is pretty much the same," said Holgorsen.
Maryland has overhauled its offense -- now run by freshman quarterback Perry Hills, a Central Catholic graduate. His top receiver (also a return threat) is Stefon Diggs, who ranks in the top 25 in the country in all-purpose yards (147 per game), punt return average (13.8) and kick return average (30.75).
NOTE -- West Virginia will induct seven former athletes into the Sports Hall of Fame at 9:30 a.m. today. Included are former football players Ben Dunkerley, Bo Orlando and Ed Pastilong, most noted for his role as athletic director.
First Published September 22, 2012 12:06 am