2008 Keys to the Game, Matchups to Watch and Game Prediction: Maryland

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Another week, another big game in the ACC. Every game in the ACC has become critical, with almost every team still holding out hope for a division title. Virginia Tech returns home after two tough road losses to Boston College and Florida State to face a resurgent Maryland Terrapins team that is nationally ranked (#23) and the only ACC team with just one conference loss. The Hokies badly need a win, and returning to Lane Stadium on a Thursday night certainly helps, but will Tech be able to handle the Terps with the current questions at quarterback?

Frank Beamer and Ralph Friedgen are best friends and former coaching associates, and the coaching philosophies of the two are very similar. Both Virginia Tech and Maryland rely on physical running games and play-action passing on offense, and both teams have tough, physical defenses that focus on stopping the run first. This game, when broken down into its simplest components, should come down to which team is the most physical and can control the line-of-scrimmage. Lots of concerns can be raised about the quarterback situation for the Hokies, but those issues will not be a problem if Tech can win the battle in the trenches.

The Hokies won the battle up front with Maryland in their previous two ACC meetings. In 2004, the Hokies rattled the Terps’ quarterbacks into numerous mistakes and a rout ensued. The 2005 game was much tougher, but a stout defense and some timely quarterback scrambles pulled out a solid win. Can the Hokies expect to control the game up front this year against a veteran Maryland squad?

Keys to the Game

When Maryland has the Ball:

1. Keep the Running Game Inside

While Maryland has a large, physical offensive line and relies on a power blocking man-on-man scheme, the true effectiveness of the running game for the Terps is outside, not inside. All of Maryland’s running backs are much more effective running outside. Da’Rel Scott (#23, 5-11.5 202 4.52, r-So.) is the leading rusher in the ACC and a key figure in the Terps success this year. Scott hurt his shoulder late in the N.C. State game and is listed as questionable,