Maryland preparing to face intangible 12th man vs. South Florida

Maryland preparing to face intangible 12th man vs. South Florida
September 2, 2014, 7:45 pm
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Watch comments from C.J. Brown and Keith Bowers in the video player above, following a short advertisement.

COLLEGE PARK -- Randy Edsall sat down at the podium on Tuesday to speak with the media at Byrd Stadium in College Park as part football coach, part weather man.

“It’s good to get some heat here,” Edsall said, before he might as well have pulled up the five-day forecast behind him on a green screen. “Since they’re predicting for 89 degrees, about 72 percent humidity, winds out of the South-Southeast at seven miles-an-hour on Saturday.

“This weather this week will be good for us as we head down to Tampa to play South Florida.”

Following his team’s 52-7 win over James Madison on Saturday, Maryland now prepares for another Under Armour-affiliated program that got a victory in Week 1 -- and their first trip on the road in 2014.

As Edsall said, it will be hot. And against South Florida, two main factors will be key:

1) Maryland wants to move quickly on offense.

The team’s opening drive against James Madison was six plays, spanning 58 yards in just 1:47. It ended in a C.J. Brown touchdown. Their second drive went 46 yards in five plays over just 1:42 of game time. It, too, ended in a Brown touchdown.

They had two more drives that were similar, bringing their total on Saturday to four drives of at least 40 yards that ended in touchdowns that took less than 2:30 to complete.

That means more reps in more heat for the offensive line, which did well to spring the running game for 285 yards on Saturday. Edsall and offensive coordinator Mike Locksley want to make use of the athletes they have at skill positions and, even in heat, things won’t change.

[RELATED: Edsall quick with humorous response to wide receiver progression]

“Really, we’re just trying to go hard throughout the whole practice, no matter how hot it is so we can get our wind right, get our stamina together,” running back Brandon Ross said. “But, you know, 3:30 on Saturday in Tampa, it’s probably going to be a little hotter.”

The question is what the run-to-pass ratio will be for Maryland. Brown struggled, going 11-for-24 passing in Week 1 while still scrambling for yardage. Ross and redshirt sophomore running back Wes Brown both rushed for more than 80 yards in the win.

Does Maryland air it out against a South Florida defense that surrendered 375 yards through the air vs. Western Carolina, or will the Terrapins stick with the running game?

2) South Florida will have no problem keeping the football on the ground

South Florida true freshman Marlon Mack rushed for an astounding 275 yards on just 14 carries and added four touchdowns in the Bulls’ 36-31 win over Western Carolina in Week 1.

Added to that, starting quarterback Mike White completed just 9-of-26 passes on the afternoon and throwing one interception despite not getting sacked.

“We’ve been practicing in the heat all week long, so I feel like that’s going to be to our benefit,” Florida native and Maryland defensive tackle Keith Bowers said. “It’s not going to be something we haven’t seen, that we haven’t been a part of going down there.”

Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. in Tampa.