Saturday, September 6, 2008

Pregame: Maryland vs. Middle Tennessee State

The Maryland Terrapins (1-0) will take on the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders (0-1) in the Terps only away non-conference contest. Kickoff is set for 7:00 ET.

Maryland hopes to rebound after a disappointing but victorious contest over Delaware last week. Chris Turner retakes the reins at quarterback after Jordan Steffy suffered a thumb injury last week. Two years ago, the Blue Raiders gave the Terps a run for their money in College Park, but the Terps emerged victorious 24-10. With a new quarterback and some changes coming in strategy, the Terps have their work cut out for them.

Things to look for:
1. Will Chris Turner step up to play?
To the happiness of many Maryland fans, Turner gets the start due to Steffy's injury. Though Turner has shown great play, he has been inconsistent at times as well, including his limited time against Delaware. The team certainly supports him and he has proven at times he can be a solid quarterback. The Terps offense will be centering around the run, but Turner will need to make plays to prevent the Blue Raiders from putting eight in the box to stop the running game.

2. Can the defense keep it up?
Chris Cosh's defense was fantastic against Delaware, giving up only seven points, limiting the running game to only 3.6 yards per carry and only allowing four first downs on 12 third down attempts (33%). The Blue Raiders run an all-around offense, balancing running and passing, so the Terps will need to adjust a little. The defense will need to keep up their play to help out the new Terps offense.

3. How will strategy change with the loss of Steffy?
With Steffy out and only two quarterbacks ready to play, the offensive strategy will undoubtedly be changing. Josh Portis may be getting more involved instead of a package with just him running. No doubt Franklin saw that wasn't working and will need to change the package to make him more effective. Even though Steffy was struggling, whenever a starting quarterback changed, strategy undoubtedly changes. It also didn't help that Egekeze missed three field goals, but Friedgen has trust in him.

Breakdown: Middle Tennessee State (0-1, 0-0 Sun Belt)

Middle Tennessee State played Maryland hard two years ago, and now wants revenge in Murfreesboro. In their first game of the season, the Blue Raiders fell to Troy 31-17; Troy was up 24-3 going into the fourth quarter. Don't mistake them for a bad team just because they are non-BCS, this has all the makings of a trap game.

Joe Craddock (pictured) leads the team at quarterback for a second year and is considered a dependable if not great quarterback. The Blue Raiders are a balanced offense, with Desmond Gee and Philip Tanner getting about even carries against Troy. Though 31 points were given up in the first game, the defense is considered to be decent. They forced two fumbles and sacked the quarterback twice, also forcing an interception.

This game could be a trap for Maryland, but I believe the Terps should be fine to pull out a victory.

Prediction- Maryland 20, Middle Tennessee State 13

(Photo credit: Baltimore Sun (Turner), Middle Tennessee State athletics (Craddock))

No comments: