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Keys to the Game: Clemson at Maryland

Posted on: October 11, 2011 10:05 am
 
Posted by Chip Patterson

CLEMSON WILL WIN IF: If the offensive line can keep Tajh Boyd upright and allow him to get comfortable, the Tigers should win against Maryland on Saturday night. They can expect that Maryland will try to bring pressure on Boyd, who suffered a strained hip last week in the win against Boston College. If the offensive line can keep Boyd from getting hit and open up seams for running back Andre Ellington, the Tigers should be able to wear down a Terps defense that has been banged up at key positions in recent weeks.

With Maryland's questions at the quarterback position, defensive end Andre Branch and the Tigers' pass rush should be ready to hunt as well. Clemson has recorded 17 tackles for loss in their last two victories against Virginia Tech and Boston College, after starting the season with just 12 total in their first four contests. The Tigers will need more pressure like this to rattle the Maryland quarterback - whoever ends up getting the nod.

MARYLAND WILL WIN IF: The Terrapins need to feed off of their home crowd and get a fast start, the same way they did in the season opener against Miami. This is Maryland's Homecoming weekend, and their first night game since that win over the Hurricanes. The defense has to create some turnovers to keep Clemson's offense from hitting a rhythm and taking the crowd out of the game early.  On paper a healthy Clemson team should run away with this game, so they'll need every extra boost they can get.  

Head coach Randy Edsall benched Danny O'Brien in the loss to Georgia Tech, allowing freshman C.J. Brown to step in for his first action of the season. Brown struggled to move the ball through the air, but racked up 124 yards rushing including a 77-yard run for a touchdown. We still don't know who will be under center against the Tigers, and probably won't until kickoff. All the more reason for the defense needs to create turnovers to set either quarterback up with a short field.

X-FACTOR: The health of starting quarterback Tajh Boyd. Watching the awkward way Boyd fell to the ground on the play he strained his hip, there was nervousness that he could miss significant time. However every report out of Clemson's camp has been positive, and head coach Dabo Swinney expects him to play against the Terps on Saturday. Backup quarterback Cole Stoudt was able to show the ability to manage the offense in the second half and close out Boston College, but four quarters against Maryland in Byrd Stadium under the lights will be a different challenge.

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