Friday, November 27, 2009

BC Football vs. Maryland Preview

Who: Boston College (7-4, 4-3) vs. Maryland Terrapins (2-9, 1-6)
Where: Byrd Stadium -- College Park, MD
When: 3:30pm EST on ESPNU and 850AM-WEEI

Last We Saw Them...

The Eagles were at Alumni Stadium looking to close out just their 2nd undefeated home season since 1985 against the North Carolina Tar Heels. But 6 turnovers later (4 INT, 1 FUM by Dave Shinskie) the Eagles were humbled 31-13. The game started ominously as Carolina jumped out to a 21-0 lead in the first 8 minutes before BC rallied to make it 21-13 at halftime. The game devolved into a turnover fest/defensive struggle the rest of the way, as it appeared whoever made the last mistake would lose the game. With 4 minutes remaining, Dave Shinskie threw his fourth and final interception of the game that was returned to the goal line. 2 plays later the Heels banged in the clinching touchdown.

Maryland meanwhile, is coming off a crushing 29-26 loss at Doak Campbell Pavilion in Tallahassee, Florida to the Seminoles of Florida State. The Terps have struggled all season, but looked like they had this one in the bag with 2 minutes remaining. With a 4 point lead, the Terps made the mistake of punting to electric returner Greg Reid who returned the kick to the 3 yard line, before Lonnie Pryor ran in the winning score. Da'Rell Scott made his return to the Maryland back field, running for 83 yards on 19 carries.

Know Thy Enemy...

On paper, there are very few redeeming qualities for this Maryland football team. They rank 88th in total defense (99th in pass, 77th in rush) and are 101st in total offense. Their offensive line has allowed a tremendous number of sacks (better than 2 per game) and has gotten their regular starting QB Chris Turner hurt on more than one occasion this season. Turner is questionable for this game as he continues to recover from knee trouble. If Turner can't go JaMarr Robinson will get another start. Robinson is far more mobile than Turner, which, considering the troubles of the offensive line, could give them the best chance to win. One thing

Maryland can hang its hat on is the return of dynamic running back Da'Rell Scott. Scott was one of the best running backs in the ACC last season and was expected to anchor the offense for the Terps this season. Unfortunately for him, he's been banged up all season and is just now beginning to get healthy. He played his first full game in a month last week and led the team in carries and yards. In his absence though, Davin Meggett has performed admirably and has helped give Ralph Friedgens club a way to move the ball. Defensively the Terps have struggled, especially in the passing game with a very young secondary and lead the ACC in plays of 20 yards or more allowed.

What to Watch For...

BC's Defensive Line

Maryland's offensive line for lack of a better word is awful. It will probably be the weakest line that the Eagles have played against this season, meaning they should be able to get pressure on the QB, whoever it is. If Chris Turner is behind center, it is imperative for the Eagles to pressure him as he is an excellent pocket passer and has killed them in the past. On the hand, JaMarr Robinson is not nearly the passer Turner is, and if BC can pressure him into some quicker decisions, mistakes will happen. Coach Friedgen has admitted that Robinson is coming along, but is still apt to make some poor decisions with the ball. Look for DT Damik Scafe to make some plays on that defensive line as he continues to get healthy and be more of a force up front with his size.

Colin Larmond & Justin Jarvis

Rich Gunnell has done a tremendous job this season of finding ways to get open and make plays despite a lot of the coverage being geared towards him this season. However, it is still critical for both Larmond and Jarvis to be effective as 2nd and 3rd options to take the pressure of Gunnell. Larmond in particular has shown the natural ability to get open and use his size and athleticism to make plays, but has struggled with holding on to the ball. In order to keep the game simple for QB Dave Shinskie against this poor secondary, Larmond and Jarvis must be able to spread the field by running solid routes and making catches when the ball is thrown their way.

3rd Down Conversions

Both Maryland and Boston College have struggled mightily on 3rd down this season (BC went an astonishing 0-13 on 3rd down last week). For BC to win this game and finish the season with 8 wins, they'll need to continue to move the chains by converting on 3rd down. In particular, I'd like to see a lot less of the shotgun formations on 3rd and short for BC. For Maryland, if they harbor any hopes of winning this game, they too must convert on 3rd down and find a way to sustain drives.

How It's Gonna Go Down...

Let's be honest. BC has better talent all over the field in this game, particularly on defense. If they get an even performance out of Dave Shinskie (1+ scores, less than 2 turnovers) they should be able to roll over the Terrapins in this one. People have compared this game to the Virginia game a few weeks ago, but as you read here, that game had the potential to be very dangerous because of Shinskie's inexperience and the Cavaliers top 30 passing defense. Maryland though has no such defense to speak of, so points should come reasonably easy to BC. Look for Montel Harris to have a big game again and for BC to contain what will surely be a platoon at QB between the senior Chris Turner and the sophomore JaMarr Robinson and roll to a relatively comfortable win.

The Line: BC -6
The Call: BC 27 Maryland 10

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