November 19, 2011

Five keys: Wake Forest vs. Maryland

Wake Forest vs. Maryland
Location: Winston-Salem, NC
Stadium: BB&T Field
Kickoff: 3:00 PM ET
TV/Internet: Regional Fox Sports, ESPN GamePlan and ESPN3
Current record:
Wake Forest: 5-5, 4-3 ACC (Lost to Clemson 31-28)
Maryland: 2-8, 1-5 ACC (Lost to Notre Dame 45-21)

Series history: Maryland defeated Wake Forest 62-14 in College Park last season. The Terrapins lead the all-time series 42-16-1.

What is on the line with this game: A win over the Terps would make the Demon Deacons bowl-eligible for the first time since 2008, while a loss would leave Wake with only one more opportunity for a post-season berth in next week's regular season finale against Vanderbilt.

Quotes of the week
"We definitely took a whooping last year. They're a good team, and their record doesn't really show how good they are, but they are a very athletic team, and they have great players. We're going to have to play good football, and go out and execute." - Wake Forest quarterback Tanner Price

"We set multiple goals for ourselves before the season started, and one of the goals was to become bowl-eligible. We have two more games left, so we still have a chance to become bowl-eligible, and show some of these young guys what we experienced our freshman year here." - Wake Forest outside linebacker Kyle Wilber

"I think we'll get a Maryland team coming to town Saturday that's going to play really, really hard. They want to win as bad as anybody does. It's up to the kids to be ready to play. We're going to give them a good plan, and they're going to have to get motivated, and pumped up. That's not just for this game that's for every week. Ralph [Friedgen] brought really good players in there. I think Randy's [Edsall] got some good players. Some of them are really young. He's had some injuries, and they've had some defections kind of deal. It's a new coach thing. You come in and kind of get your program, and want the kids doing what you want them to do, and the kids are trying to figure out the coaching staff and that kind of stuff, but they're down toward the end of the season they're going to be better and having together. I think as much as I like Danny O'Brien and I like the other kid I think having the one guy that you know is your guy is going to help them a little bit." - Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe

"This week we have a Wake Forest team that I have been impressed with offensively. Their quarterback Tanner Price is a good athlete who can manage the game and sees the field very well. Chris Givens at wide receiver has very good speed and Michael Campanaro is a local guy who is playing very well for them. Their running back Brandon Pendergrass is a good back with good quickness. They have been very multiple offensively with that they have done and defensively they are 3-4 team. I have been impressed with their nose guard (Nikita Whitlock) as well as their outside linebacker (Kyle Wilber). They are very active on defense and like to give you a lot of looks. They have very good skill guys on their special teams. We have a tremendous challenge as we go down to Winston-Salem on Saturday to play." - Maryland head coach Randy Edsall

Keys to the game

1) Defending the option
When Danny O'Brien broke his arm Maryland was forced to settle on C.J. Brown as its starting quarterback. Brown is not the passer O'Brien is, but the sophomore is better suited to run Gary Crowton's spread-option scheme.

"Watching Georgia Tech he broke like an 80-yard run on them," Wilber said. "Clemson game he was running around all over them. It's going to be a real challenge for us to kind of contain him, because the way you try to contain a quarterback like that is basically in the option attack you got to put men surrounding him."

Brown is Maryland's second-leading rusher with 51 carries for 387 yards and three touchdowns. His ability to move in and out of the pocket reminds Grobe of ex-N.C. State, now Wisconsin quarterback Russell Wilson.

Obviously containing Brown will be key, but the Deacs must careful not to overcompensate in their efforts to slow him down, which will make vulnerable to zone plays for Davin Meggett and D.J. Adams.

2) Pass-defense
Before O'Brien's injury the Terrapins were operating out of a platoon system at quarterback, starting the Kernersville product and bringing Brown in for a change of pace. As stated earlier Brown is not the passer O'Brien is, but the new starting QB's mobility keeps defenses honest.

In limited action Brown has completed 50-101 passes for 490 yards, five touchdowns and four interceptions. He has been sacked eight times this season, and Maryland's offensive line has yielded 15 sacks on the year.

The Demon Deacons make up for their lack of pass rush with other big plays. Wake is tied for fourth in the ACC in interceptions with 11.

Tajh Boyd said he was often confused with the looks Wake Forest's defensed showed last week. Look for Brown to be also, as he enters Saturday without much experience.

3) Feed the big dog
Brandon Pendergrass gashed No. 7 Clemson for 134 yards and two touchdowns rushing.

"He's really opening up the passing game, because he has become such a threat in the running game," Price said.

The Terps rank last in the ACC against the run (231 yards rushing allowed per game).

Maryland's lone ace in the hole upfront is Joe Vellano. The junior defensive tackle has 80 takedowns this season, which is good for second on the team. If Wake can get Vellano blocked it should be relatively smooth sailing for Pendergrass and the Deacs ground game.

4) Price's play
After turning the ball over four times in Chapel Hill, Price has not turned it over once in the last two games. The Terps rank eighth in the ACC in pass-defense (222.3 yards passing allowed per game).

The Texas native has completed 193-310 passes for 2,326 yards, 16 touchdowns, while being intercepted six times.

His top target Chris Givens has 62 receptions for 1,016 yards and eight touchdowns, but the junior wide receiver's production has dropped off since burning Duke with six catches for 147 yards and a touchdown. However, the production of others have increased, especially Michael Campanaro's.

The weapons are there for Price to thrive Saturday against a beleaguered Maryland defense decimated by injuries.

If Pendergrass' running can open up Wake's passing attack in Death Valley, then he will likely have a Moses parting of the Red Sea type of opportunity against the Terrapins Saturday.

5) No mistakes
The Demon Deacons are good at avoiding self-inflicted wounds; well at least before their blowout-loss to the Tar Heels, as they turned it over five times. Wake Forest only had five turnovers going into that game.

The Deacs were plus five in the turnover margin category in its 35-30 win over Florida State, and did not have the ball taken away in its near-upset of the Tigers.

Taking care of the football will be integral to Wake becoming bowl-eligible Saturday or not.


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