Today at RFK Stadium in DC, Maryland (8-4) will face off against ECU (6-6) in the 2010 Military Bowl Presented by Northrop Grumman. The Terps are heavy – for a bowl – favorites at -8. This game should be one of the more entertaining early bowls and defense should be optional.
For Maryland to Win:
- Force ECU to Punt: Maryland’s defense will have it’s hands full with the nations 22nd-ranked offense, and 7th-ranked passing offense. The Maryland defense will have to slow down ECU’s dynamic QB Dominique Davis, who is 2nd in the nation with 36 passing TD’s. The Maryland secondary will have to find a way to make stops and create turnovers. Davis does have 14 Interceptions this season and has been turnover prone in ECU’s last few games. Safeties Kenny Tate and Antwine Perez for Maryland must have big games and force turnovers, something they’ve been known to do, for Maryland to win. The ECU offensive line does not give up sacks, just 13 on the season, so Maryland will have to break up passes and force turnovers.
- Control the Ball: ECU has the 116th ranked rushing defense. Maryland has struggled running the ball this season, but they must establish the run and avoid and getting in a shoot-out with ECU. RB’s Da’Rel Scott, Davin Meggett and D.J. Adams need to control the clock and avoid fumbles. The three backs should have a field day against a defense giving up an average of 5.2 yards per carry.
- Put the Ball in Torrey Smith’s Hands: This is a pretty simple strategy. Smith makes plays, as evidence of his 224-yard 4-touchdown performance on Senior Day against NC State. The Maryland coaches need to get Smith at least 10 touches this game. He’s a versatile player that can go deep, across the middle or used on screens and reverses. Smith has been below-average on kick returns, but on offense has been phenomenal. Getting the ball in his hands is a must today. It would also be great for Terps fans to see him have a huge day, especially with all the rumors swirling around that this could be Torrey’s last game for Maryland.
For ECU to Win:
- Make it a Shoot-Out: Maryland has struggled against the better offenses it has faced this season. West Virginia and Florida State come to mind immediately. ECU should be able to throw against Maryland as their corners have been their weakest position on defense. ECU doesn’t look to run, so forcing the Maryland linebackers to play in space should help the ECU offense.
- Convert in the Red Zone: Maryland has one of the top red zone defenses in the country. The Maryland defense has come up big in the red zone all season, but games against Navy and NC State stick out. I think we all remember this play by LB Adrian Moten. When ECU gets in the red zone it will need to rely on it’s passing game as it’s nearly impossible to run on LB Alex Wujciak and the rest of the Terps run defense.
- Make Danny O’Brien Look Like a Freshman: ECU doesn’t force a lot of interceptions and do not get to the quarterback very well, but will need to do both in order to win. Maryland’s offensive line has been in flux all season after season ending injuries have shuffled the line. QB Danny O’Brien has not lost a game where he has not thrown an interception. In his 6 wins as a starter O’Brien had 16 TD’s and 0 interceptions. In his 3 losses, he had 2 Touchdowns and 6 interceptions. There was a reason O’Brien won ACC Rookie of the Year, but ECU must force him into mistakes.
Overall, I’d give a huge advantage to Maryland. However, there is that pesky issue of Coach Ralph Friedgen being fired after the game, despite winning ACC Coach of the Year. We will have to see if this was a big distraction or not for the Terps. I believe the players will come out and play hard for their coach in his final game.
Prediction: Maryland 41, ECU 35.