Nov. 2, 2012
By Matt Winkeljohn
– It’s popular to talk about Maryland’s quarterback, or rather the freshman linebacker whom the Terrapins are going to play at QB today, but if Georgia Tech is going break back into the win column, it’s more important that the Yellow Jackets play to their personality rather than worry about their opponent’s.
The Jackets need to run the ball well, and yet this will be the second week in a row that Tech will face one of the top 10 rush defenses in the nation. It didn’t go well against BYU. Tech rushed for a season-low 117 yards.
Maryland is allowing a little more than 77 rushing yards per game, No. 4 in the nation. The Terps’ defense is No. 7 overall, although you wouldn’t guess it from their 4-4 record. Then again, BYU was 4-4 before last week.
Like BYU, the Terps generally go with a 3-4 alignment, but they’re a good bit bigger among the linebacking ranks (although perhaps not as skilled).
When these teams met last year, Maryland defensive end Joe Vellano (No. 72) was everywhere. He was in on 20 tackles for the Terps, a huge feather on the way to earning first team All-ACC and All-America honors. He’s not huge (6-feet-1 or so and about 285 pounds), but he’s strong, quick and relentless.
The other two starting D-linemen are 300 pounders, and the starting linebackers go 6-4, 220; 6-0, 235; 6-3, 245; and 6-2, 240.
Vellano is also a fifth-year senior, one of five seniors in Maryland’s front seven.
This could be tough sledding. Boston College may be a poor example, but the Eagles were most recent. They rushed 27 times for 8 – yes, 8 – yards against Maryland last week. Vellano added 2.5 sacks as BC threw 43 passes.
“They’re big and physical upfront. They’ve got a lot of good linebackers, and they’ve got two corners that can lock guys down,” Tech head coach Paul Johnson said. “Joe Vellano has been playing a long time and is a really good player.
“People have had a hard time running the ball against them, and they play well in the red zone. When they get down there they don’t give up touchdowns.”
The Terps lost a quarterback in summer practice, and then three more to knee injuries in roughly a week’s time.
These recent developments have factored into their two-game losing streak and led to the first college start today for Shawn Petty. Until a week or so ago, he was a red-shirting freshman linebacker. Since he was an option-based quarterback in high school, Maryland coach Randy Edsall said the Terps will stick with those elements of the offense with which he’s most comfortable.
Washington Post stories this week said that Petty did not receive any college scholarship offers as a quarterback.
“You try to make your educated guess [as to what Maryland will do offensively],” Johnson said. “They’re not going to be able to get too far away from what they do in three days. So you try and figure what you would do if you were them.
“To me, if you’re as good as they are defensively; you’re going to be real conservative to make sure you don’t lose the game on offense trying to do something the guy can’t do. I fully expect that we’ll get a real dose of them trying to run the ball.”
Just in case … Stefon Diggs – just one of several Maryland freshmen who start or have seen significant playing time – caught 11 passes for 152 yards against BC, and is threatening many Maryland freshman marks set by Darrius Heyward-Bey.