What is Maryland wishing for this holiday season when it takes on Marshall in the Military Bowl? They could certainly make a list, one more each side of the ball. CSN takes a look, now on the defensive side of the ball.
1) Contain QB Rakeem Cato
Cato won’t necessarily beat you with his feet, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a threat on the ground. Just as Maryland was able to keep Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas contained and in the pocket, they’ll need to do the same with Cato.
That begins with the pass rush, specifically linebacker Marcus Whitfield and defensive lineman Andre Monroe.
Marshall is in the middle of the pack in the country in sacks allowed per game with 1.9. The more Maryland gets to Cato, the more disrupted this potent passing offense will be.
2) Defensive backfield gets a boost
Cornerback Jeremiah Johnson is expected to play in the Military Bowl, the first time he’ll see a meaningful amount of playing time since Week 1 against Florida International. A broken toe has essentially kept him sidelined for the entirety of the season.
The secondary has actually been solid all season without Johnson and senior Dexter McDougle because of injuries. That is thanks in large part to the play of freshman Will Likely, who registed 62 tackles and an interception on the season.
Wide receiver Tommy Shuler will be the top priority in the Marshall receiving corps, a 5-7, 180-pound speedster who is dangerous in space. He joins Gator Hoskins and Devon Smith, both who have at least 600 yards receiving on the year.
3) Stop the three-headed rushing monster
Marshall ranks 22nd in the nation with 211 yards rushing per game. Essray Taliaferro, Steward Butler, and Kevin Grooms each have rushed for 1,059, 762, and 503 yards on the year, respectively.
So what does that mean for Maryland?
It means penetration through the line from Monroe and the defensive line, as well as pressure from the linebackers. The better these running backs pick up yards, the more difficult it is for the secondary because the play action off the zone-read will force them to respect the run.
Cole Farrand will be key.
To purchase tickets to the 2013 Military Bowl in Annapolis, Md., click here.