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Penn State Football: Previewing The Opponent: Maryland

by on October 07, 2016 2:00 PM

Here is what you need to know about Maryland as the Terps come to town undefeated looking for a 5-0 record for the first time since 2001. 

Last Week:

Penn State's overtime victory against Minnesota may very well saved the season, and while 3-2 isn't exactly sending the Nittany Lions to the top of the playoff list, with injuries galore and plenty of inexperience on the roster every win is important. On the other side of the coin is an undefeated 4-0 Maryland squad which for all of the wins is hardly the most tested team in America either. The Terrapins have scored 40+ points on three occasions this season but outside of a 30-24 victory over UCF, have hardly played anyone of note, no offense to Purdue. Most recently it was the Boilermakers losing to Maryland to the tune of 50-7.

 

The Offense:

After an up and down season Perry Hills has turned into a fairly effective quarterback that isn't afraid to tuck it and run. HIs 137 yards per game passing is hardly lighting up the stat sheet but that's because the Terps are content to roll a three running back system through defensive lines led by Ty Johnson who racked up 204 yards against Purdue and two scores. Out wide it's the combo of DeAndre Lane and the NFL bound Will Likely who have become a dependable combination. Severn Jacobs enters his senior season having led the Terps in receiving yardage in 2015 with 425 yards and 35 receptions. Up front it's equal parts experience and youth with Maurice Shelton the only senior on the line.

The Defense:

On the defensive side of the ball Likley plays the majority of his snaps as a 2x first team all-Big Ten defensive back. Jermaine Carter is at middle linebacker and leads the team with 16 consecutive starts. Darnell Savage is deep in the secondary at safety and posted a career high in tackles with six against FIU. Up front it's all juniors and seniors with Roman Braglio at defensive end coming off a 2 sack weekend against Purdue. Alvin Hill is the primary cornerback to keep an eye on in coverage.

The Player To Watch:

Much like Jabrill Peppers, William Likely's ability to impact the return game and both sides of the ball makes him the obvious player to watch. Penn State's secondary is probably its best asset, but don't be surprised to see Maryland attack Penn State's linebackers with Likley on a few crossing routes. If Maryland can get the ground game going, that will only help the Terps chances of cashing in on a long ball, and there is a good chance Likley will be on the other end of that pass. He may not have the return numbers of Peppers at Michigan, but Blake Gillikin will have to be careful not to out kick his coverage and give Likely space for a good return.

The Prediction:

The overtime victory did a lot for this Penn State team and for as good as Maryland might be, they haven't been tested yet and probably aren't quite as good as advertised. Saquon Barkley is due for a good game and Penn State's offense seems to have it confidence back. It'll be close, but Penn State might just steal this one, beating an undefeated team two weeks in a row. 27-21



Ben Jones covers Penn State football and basketball for StateCollege.com. He's on Twitter as @Ben_Jones88.
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