Edsall discusses CJ Brown's status, previews Virginia
Matchup: Virginia (2-3, 0-1 ACC) at Maryland (4-1, 0-1 ACC)
Date: Oct. 12, 2013
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Location: Byrd Stadium, College Park, Md.
Spread: Maryland (-7)
BREAKING DOWN VIRGINIA
No-Huddle Preview: A three-touchdown loss to mid-major Ball State at home last Saturday means both Virginia and Maryland come into Saturday’s matchup off of games they’d rather forget. For Mike London's team, that makes Saturday's road game against conference foe Maryland even more important. More below.
What to Expect Offensively: Turnovers sunk Virginia in their loss to Ball State. The Cavaliers turned the ball over four times on Saturday, including one interception by quarterback David Watford, bringing his season split to three touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Watford has to control the ball and the tempo of the game if the Cavaliers want to get a road win Saturday, along with relying heavily on running back Kevin Parks, who has rushed for 398 yards so far this season.
“They’ve been changing and moving around the offensive line,” Maryland defensive coordinator Brian Stewart said. “They used some different receivers, but their scheme stayed steady and what we’ve got to do is look at the scheme and what they do in different formations and attack it.”
Maryland will likely bring different types of pressure on Watford, hoping to force him into making throws into coverage. It worked against West Virginia in Maryland’s 37-0 win in Week 4.
What to Expect Defensively: Virginia ranks close to the bottom third of the FBS in opponent rushing yards per game, meaning that they would be helped out in Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown sat out on Saturday.
If he does play, the zone-read formation should be the focus of their scheme, taking away Brown’s ability to run the football and open up opportunities for others because of it.
“You look back at last week and we were 14 percent efficient running the ball and 20 percent efficient throwing the ball,” Maryland offensive coordinator Mike Locksley said. “That keeps you in a lot of third and long situations, and then we’re 2-for-15 in those, you don’t sustain drives. For us, it’s not as much about Virginia defensively, it’s about us executing the things we want on offense.”
If Brown can’t go, the focus of the running game defensively for Virginia will be Brandon Ross, who failed to get much going against Florida State.
Player to Watch: Kevin Parks, running back
For an offense that relies so heavily on the running game, Parks is the center of that universe.
His 398 yards on the ground rank third in the conference and would be key to controlling clock and limiting turnovers against Maryland. He is just 5-8, a small, shifty back, but should be one of the Terrapins’ biggest concerns on Saturday.
BREAKING DOWN MARYLAND
No-Huddle Preview: It’s not the 63-0 final score last week against Florida State that continues to linger for the Terrapins in College Park. The focus now is C.J. Brown’s health, the latest being that he’s listed as ‘doubtful’ for Saturday’s matchup against Virginia.
If he can’t go, backup Caleb Rowe will take the reins under center and, by virtue of his start alone, will change the complexion of this offense. More below.
What to Expect Offensively: The plan offensively hinges on whether or not Brown can play vs. Virginia.
Not to say that Rowe is lead-footed, but his running ability and effectiveness in the zone-read scheme, one that is at the core of Maryland’s offense, is not on Brown’s level.
“Our running game is predicated on our quarterback and the zone-read game,” offensive coordinator Mike Locksley said this week. “When you’re in the zone-read scheme, you’ve got to make sure you read it correctly. When we get the ball to the edge, we’ve got to take care of blocking the perimeter. We’ve got to get all those things accomplished running the football and we haven’t been very good at it.”
Also keep an eye on sophomore wide receiver Stefon Diggs.
After starting the season by picking up where he left off after his freshman campaign, he has a combined four catches for 37 yards over the past two games.
His complement on the outside, Deon Long, has picked up the slack in the mean time, but look for Diggs to get opportunities against a Virginia passing defense that ranks in the middle of the pack (51st) in yards per game allowed through the air.
What to Expect Defensively: There were two different acts of Maryland’s loss to Florida State on Saturday. Act I was before C.J. Brown’s injury. Act II was everything after.
In Act I, Maryland’s defense held the fort. In 90-degree Tallahassee heat and the fact that short offensive drives meant more time on the field, the Terrapins’ defense managed to hold the Seminoles to a manageable 14-0 lead.
But then came Act II.
Jameis Winston proved to be too much and the Seminoles poured it on when the house of cards came crashing down. What’s to take from it? Stop the run.
“Both running backs, especially [Kevin] Parks, are running really well. Then, the quarterback’s a good runner,” defensive coordinator Brian Stewart said this week. “He does a good job of reading. They’ve got a zone-read scheme that they run and he’s not a bad passer. He’s got a good, strong arm. He’s a good athlete.”
Player to Watch: Stefon Diggs, wide receiver
Only so much time can pass before a talent like Diggs gets back on track and has another breakout game. This could be the week.
As we’ve seen throughout his career and particularly in Week 2 vs. Old Dominion, Diggs is immensely talented when given the ball on screens or other situations where he has room to work.
Against the Monarchs, he turned a short screen pass that looked to be going nowhere into an explosive touchdown run along the sideline.
If Brown can’t go, look for Rowe and the Terrapins to utilize the screen game more for Diggs, Long, and backs out of the backfield in place of a running game that could be slowed.
FULL INJURY REPORT VS. VIRGINIA
DB Milan Collins | Ankle | Out for the season
OL JaJuan Dulaney | Knee | Out for the season
DB Dexter McDougle | Shoulder | Out for the season
DL Mike Minter | Knee | Out for the season
DL Ty Tucker | Knee | Out for the season
WR Tyrek Cheeseboro | Head | Out
RB Tyler Cierski | Calf | Out
K Adam Greene | Quad | Out
DB Jeremiah Johnson | Toe | Out
OL Nick Klemm | Foot | Out
LB Matt Robinson | Shoulder | Out
QB C.J. Brown | Head | Doubtful
WR Daniel Adams | Knee | Probable
OL Silvano Altamirano | Back | Probable
LB Cole Farrand | Hand | Probable
WR Nigel King | Back | Probable
TE Dave Stinebaugh | Knee | Probable
DL Zeke Riser | Foot | Probable