What makes Maryland's defense roll? Edsall explains
Matchup: Maryland (5-1, 1-1 ACC) at Wake Forest (3-3, 1-2 ACC)
Date: Oct. 19, 2013
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Location: BB&T Field, Winston-Salem, N.C.
Spread: Maryland (-5.5)
BREAKING DOWN WAKE FOREST
No-Huddle Preview: Some are taking Wake Forest as a trendy upset pick at home this week against Maryland. They, like the Terrapins, have a blowout loss to a top-tier ACC opponent, but can Michael Campanaro and the Demon Deacons put enough points on the board to help out their defense on Saturday?
What to Expect Offensively: Campanaro will be the focus offensively for Wake Forest, especially against a Maryland defense that is dealing with major injuries both in its secondary and in the linebacking corps.
Campanaro has already caught 44 passes this season and totaled 582 yards, but the Demon Deacon passing attack overall ranks just 77th in the nation. Wake Forest will likely try to exploit the depleted secondary by trying to get the ball to Campanaro.
Quarterback Tanner Price has been solid this season, throwing for 1245 yards and nine touchdowns, along with three interceptions.
"[Campanaro] is their go-to guy, and we know they are going to go to him," Maryland defensive coordinator Brian Stewart said. "We have somebody at practice who is mimicking him and we have to make sure we know where he is and understand what he is going to do out of different formations and then play football. He is one of their best players, as well as their quarterback Tanner Price. Both of those guys are playing well, so we have to make sure we do what we can to make sure we can match what they are doing with what we are doing."
What to Expect Defensively: Defense is where Wake Forest makes its money.The Demon Deacons rank 34th in the country in points against, including giving up just 13 in a win over NC State in their last game. Like Maryland, though, much of Wake's effectiveness has been a result of bending and not breaking. They rank 73rd in rushing yards allowed per game and 62nd in passing yards allowed.
"They’re a very veteran squad. And it just seems like when Wake has veteran guys they play smart, they play hard and they very rarely make mistakes," Maryland offensive coordinator Mike Locksley said. "So we have to be consistent offensively and execute at a higher level, at a way higher level."
Player to Watch: Michael Campanaro, wide receiver
Virginia tight end Jake McGee tore apart the Maryland defense last week for 114 yards. Worse, perhaps, was the fact that he seemed to be open in more than one key third-down situation to keep Cavalier drives alive.
Campanaro could end up being the same kind of pest for the Demon Deacons on Saturday. Don't be surprised if Maryland works in some dime and nickel packages to combat the passing attack.
BREAKING DOWN MARYLAND
No-Huddle Preview: Injuries, injuries, injuries for Maryland on the defensive side of the ball. Four opening-day starters are out vs. Wake Forest, including two who are out for the season, along with the backup to one of those starters. Can they overcome it?
What to Expect Offensively: C.J. Brown will start at quarterback after missing Saturday's game against Virginia with a concussion. With the senior slotted back into the lineup, Maryland gets back some of the versatility it lost with Caleb Rowe under center.
Expect the zone-read formation to make a strong comeback against Wake Forest, now that Brown and his ability to run the football return.
"When you get a starter back into the system it’s good. We’re very grateful Caleb Rowe was able to come in and manage a way to get us a win, but C.J. is the leader of our offense and having him back brings a sense of calmness and normalcy back," Locksley said. "So we’re excited to have him back and he’s definitely excited to have the opportunity to get back out there and try to get us back on track offensively."
Stefon Diggs and Deon Long were the wide receiver combination that Maryland recruited them to be against Virginia, combining for close to 200 yards through the air, including Long's huge reception on 3rd-and-22 in the fourth quarter to keep Maryland's hopes alive.
Running back Brandon Ross was an asset out of the backfield with a 77-yard passing play off a screen. If that continues, that simply means another weapon for Wake Forest to defend.
What to Expect Defensively: Dexter McDougle is out. Jeremiah Johnson is out. Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil is out. Matt Robinson is out. Alex Twine is out. That’s where Maryland stands defensively.
Injuries have ravaged a defensive attack that was key to the team’s success through the first four games of the year. We began to see the effects of that last week, as Maryland was unable to force turnovers against a typically turnover-prone Virginia team.
To their credit, they often bent but didn’t break in the red zone, only allowing two touchdowns and keeping the Cavaliers to four field goals in six red-zone trips.
“That’s a big attitude thing. You go to practice every day and try to tell the defensive backs and the linebackers to try to attack the ball in the air as well as the ball carrier, and tell the defensive line to try to strip the ball,” defensive coordinator Brian Stewart. “It comes in spurts. Sometimes you get a lot of sacks and a lot of interceptions. The score of the game is also a big dictator of that.”
Player to Watch: William Likely, cornerback
Likely is often tagged with covering the team's best receiver and he could be asked to do the same against Wake Forest.
If he is not, expect him to be a key part of the nickel package as Maryland's designated ball hawk. Likely excelled against Old Dominion in Week 2 against a pass-happy Monarchs offense. He should do the same on Saturday.
He has also taken over full-time punt return duties from Diggs, who Edsall said was banged up against West Virginia and is still not quite 100 percent.