Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Maryland Preview

by EhhTee

After a twelve day break, the Hokies travel to the National Capital Region to take on the University of Maryland Terrapins on Thursday night. The Virginia Tech Hokies (6-0, 3-0) are coming off of a much needed bye-week that gave some of the injured players time to heal.

The series between the two teams dates back to 1919. Maryland has the lead at 15-12. However, the Hokies have dominated the series in recent years. The Terrapins last victory in the series dates back to 1990.

Maryland (4-2, 2-1) is also coming off a bye-week after demolishing the pitiful Temple Owls (0-7). The Terrapins with only two losses to West Virginia and Clemson are off to a season that hasn't surprised many. Head coach Ralph Friedgen has brought the team back into bowl contention and a victory Thursday would give him and his team a good jump start into the second half of the season.

The Terrapins are not going to be easily pushed around. They will be fired up at home with a chance to knock off the number three team in the country. With the Florida State loss to Virginia on Saturday, Maryland coaches are sure to push the possibility of another ACC upset.

Offensive Notebook

The running back core will surely take apart the Terrapins defense. The return of Mike Imoh (Sr., #20), the success of Branden Ore (r-Fr., #28) and George Bell (r-Fr., #34), and the lackluster performance of the Maryland line against the run will prove disastrous for the Maryland defense. The Terrapin defensive line is young and undersized. Against the run, they rank 85th.

Where the Hokies may struggle is through the air. Maryland comes in with the fifth ranked passing defense in the country. However, they have not faced the likes of the maturing (on the field AND during play) quarterback Marcus Vick (r-Jr., #5). He'll have targets like David Clowney (Jr., #87), Jeff King (r-Sr., #90), and Eddie Royal (So., #4) to select from, not to mention his ever present threat to take off with the ball.

Defensive Notebook

The Hokie defense will face a balanced attack from Maryland offense. Their offensive line is very young but has proven to be able to protect quarterback Sam Hollenbach (Jr., #14) in the passing game. Because the Terrapins are so balanced, it will be important for the Hokies to shut them down early. If the Hokies can shut down the run and get ahead early. It will force the Terrapins into the air.

Key players to watch

Hokie Offense
  • Mike Imoh returns to the lineup after sitting out against Marshall. Watch for his reactions as he tests out his healed ankle.

  • Marcus Vick continues to prove himself on the field. Live on national TV, he will try to prove that he deserves an invitation to the Downtown Athletic Club in New York this December.

  • Jeff King is always a threat at the tight end position. King always seems to produce results when given the chance.
Hokie Defense
  • Chris Ellis (r-So., #49) is a formidable force at defensive end. He had eight tackles against Marshall.

  • Xavier Adibi (r. So., #11) had his first interception of his career in the game against Maryland last year. Watch for him to repeat last year's success.

  • Cornerback Brandon Flowers (r-Fr., #18) has received the nod to start against Maryland. This will be his second career start. He returned an interception for a touchdown in his last.
Maryland Offense
  • Quarterback Sam Hollenbach will be the focus of the Hokie defense. If they can shut him down, this will be no contest.

  • Tailback Lance Ball (So., #44) is the Terrapins leading rusher. He has 346 yards on the year on 57 attempts.

  • Danny Melendez (Sr., #85) is Hollenbach's favorite target. It'll be very important for the secondary to stick to him like glue.
Maryland Defense
  • Trey Covington (r-Fr., #55), defensive end, leads the Terrapins in tackles. Watch for him to swarm to the ball on the run.

  • Maryland linebacker D'Qwell Jackson (Sr., #52) is probably their best defensive player. Some would say that he's the best in the ACC. If there's a tackle, he's likely to be involved.

  • Gerrick McPhearson (Sr., #38) is probably the Terrapins best out of the secondary. At Cornerback, he is very likely to be stuck to Eddie Royal or David Cloney.
Overall Outlook

The Hokies are going to watch carefully by the entire college football nation. They will be picked apart by analysts and coaches across the country. This is a chance for the Hokies to prove themselves worthy. The Hokies have a tendency to play down (and sometimes up) to opponents' levels. Should the Hokies do that early, they may lose some of their support in the rankings. This is the Hokies chance to prove that they belong.


Injuries to the running back core have been both problematic and a blessing. Tech's go-to receiver Mike Imoh was out against Marshall due to an ankle injury received prior to the Marshall game. Cedric Humes (r-Sr., #32), the second in the rotation of experience backs, got the nod to start against the Thundering Herd, but was quickly injured (ankle as well). Imoh is set to return this week, while Humes will most likely sit this one out.

Defensive end Noland Burchette (r-Jr., #96) will be returning as Chris Ellis's backup. His injury to a tricep should be healed up for Thursday.

At Defensive Tackle, Carlton Powell (r-So., #99) will also be returning as the number two to Tim Sandidge (r-Sr.). Powell also had an ankle injury.

The Golden Bell

Virginia Tech recruiting at the backs positions was quickly tested as redshirt freshmen Branden Ore and George Bell were sent in to carry the load against Marshall. Hokie recruiting has once again proven that they can find gold as Ore rushed for an impressive 146 yards in the game against Marshall. Both Ore and Bell scored touchdowns in both the Marshall game as well as the Duke game.

ACC Too Strong For It's Own Good

The ACC continues to take itself apart as its middle core is always a threat to knock out the national contenders. Last weekendĂ‚’s Virginia win over Florida State is not comforting for Hokie fans as it was that same Cavalier team that lost to the Terrapins. And yet, the Terrapins have also fallen to West Virginia.


The first Bowl Championship Series (BCS) rankings came out on Monday placing the Hokies third behind USC and Texas. It's almost certain that this will be on the back of the team's mindsas they prepare for this game. If all three teams were to win out, it appears that the Hokies would be the odd team out. It is up to the coaching staff, under the leadership of a now well paid head coach Frank Beamer, to make sure that the players focus on this game only.

The Ocho

The game is a ESPN Thursday game giving the Hokies a tremendous advantage. The Hokies are 10-1 on ESPN on Thursday night. Their last game on Thursday night was against the Terrapins in Blacksburg last year. The Hokies won 55-6.

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