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    Friday, November 21, 2008

    Head To Head Matchup: Quarterbacks

    Amid early season quarterback controversies, Maryland quarterback Chris Turner has emerged as the guy who has led Maryland to a possible ACC Atlantic Division title. The 6-4/210 pound junior has thrown for 1,809 yards, 9 TDs, and has 6 interceptions this season. One stat in particular is revealing about Turner. He hasn't thrown an interception since Oct. 4 at Virginia. And that was five games ago. In addition, only 2 of his picks have come at home.

    Turner has had one game when he threw for 300 yards and more and that was a win over Wake Forest 26-0. Turner has had four games in which he has thrown for less than 200 yards. In his last game against North Carolina this past Saturday, he threw for 141 yards and no TDs. His passing completion percentage is 58.5%. His longest TD came against Middle Tennessee State when he threw an 80 yard touchdown. He will run the ball but for the year has negative rushing yardage. Turner is ranked #5 in the ACC and is averaging almost 181 yards a game.

    Number two on the depth charts is 6-4/210 pound junior Josh Portis. He has completed one pass out of three attempts for 4 yards this year. However, he has played in eight games and has run the ball for 186 yards and 1 TD.

    Maryland's pass offense is ranked #4 and is averaging 198 yards a game. In scoring offense, the Terps are near the bottom at #9. They are averaging a little under 22 points a game and have scored 25 TDs on the season.Their TD production is the fourth lowest in the ACC. It is also interesting to note that only 10 of their 25 TDs have been scored against conference foes.

    In third down conversions, the Terps are ranked #2 as they are converting 41.09% on third down. Again, against conference opponents, they are converting at a lower rate. In the red zone, Maryland is ranked #5 converting 84.38% of the time when inside the twenty. In total offense, the Terps are ranked #3 in the ACC averaging almost 350 yards a game.

    Defensive matchup: So which Nole defense will Turner and his offense be facing Saturday night? Nole fans can only hope that it's not the one they saw in the BC game. Turner will be facing a Nole defense that is still ranked #1 in the ACC in total defense allowing 274.7 yards a game.

    In passing defense, the Noles are ranked #2 allowing almost 165 yards a game, 11 TDs through the air, and 7 interceptions. The 7 interceptions is the second lowest in the ACC. It is interesting to note that all but one of the Noles' interceptions have come against ACC opponents.

    The Nole secondary will be missing two players from its regular rotation on Saturday night. Myron Rolle who is second on the team in tackles will be missing for a good part of the game because of his Rhodes Scholars interview. Darius McClure is out because of a torn cartilage. Kenny Ingram and Jamie Robinson will have the task of filling in for them. The other anchor is Tony Carter who has two picks on the year.

    The Noles are clearly the leaders in allowing the least number of third downs by opponents allowing only 22.73%. On the road, they are even better which hopefully will be the case against Maryland.

    In red zone defense, the Noles are ranked #2 with a 33.33% conversion rate. Almost half of the scores against the Noles in the red zone have been field goals. On the road it has been exactly half. In scoring defense, the Noles are ranked lower as they are #8 allowing 20.1 points a game.

    Hopefully Turner will get to know defensive end Everette Brown. Brown is #2 in the ACC in sacks with 9 sacks on the year. All but one of Brown's sacks have been at home. The Noles lead the ACC in sacks with 29. Brown is also the leader in the ACC with tackles for a loss with 16. The linebacker corps is anchored by Derek Nicholson who ranks #8 in the ACC in tackles for a loss and has 63 tackles on the season and leads the team in that category.

    For the Noles, QB Christian Ponder will have his eleventh game as a starter against Maryland. Against BC last Saturday, Ponder looked confused and threw three interceptions. The zone defense of Wake and BC seemed to have been a problem for Ponder. Against both Wake and BC, Ponder threw three picks. Against Maryland, Ponder will face another zone defense.

    For the season, Ponder has thrown for 1,604 yards, 11 TDs, and 11 interceptions. If it is any consolation, Ponder has thrown 8 of his 11 picks at home. Ponder has had only one game in which he has thrown for over 200 yards. Against BC, he threw for 183 yards. For the season, he is averaging 160.4 yards a game and has completed just 54.2% of his passes. Ponder also can run and in the last game against BC rushed for a 12 yard TD.

    Backing up Ponder is D'Vontrey Richardson who has seen limited action in the last several games. On the year, he has thrown for 279 yards, 3 TDs, and 2 interceptions. He also has rushed for 221 yards and 3 TDs.

    The pass offense for the Noles is ranked #7 in the ACC. In scoring offense, the Noles are ranked #1 and are averaging 34 points a game.

    On third down conversions, the Noles are ranked #1 in the ACC converting 46.46% of third downs. In red zone conversions, they are ranked #3 converting 87.50% of the time when they are inside the twenty.

    The Nole offensive line will have to have a much better game against the Maryland defense than they did against BC. The offensive line was manhandled against BC. Starting left tackle Andrew Datko who sustained a dislocated elbow last Saturday has missed practices but did return to practice for the first time Wednesday. It will be left to be seen if he plays and if so how effectively. The Noles are currently ranked #5 in the ACC in sacks allowed with 16 on the season. In tackles for a loss allowed, the Noles are ranked #8 in the ACC.

    One glaring problem for the Noles is penalties and the Noles are dead last in the ACC getting over 8 penalties a game and averaging 75.7 yards a game. It looks as if there is no learning curve by the Noles in regard to reducing penalties. The only positive thing that can be said is the Noles have had less penalties on the road than at home this year.

    Defensive matchup
    : Ponder and the offense will be facing a Terrapin defense that is ranked #11 in the ACC in total defense allowing 361 yards a game. In pass defense they are ranked next to last in the ACC allowing 216 yards a game and 13 TDs through the air.

    The Terrapins are ranked #10 in the ACC in interceptions with 8 picks and none returned for a TD. The interception leader for Maryland is defensive back Jamari McCollough with 4 interceptions.

    Maryland linebacker Moise Fokou leads the team with five sacks and 8 tackles for a loss for the season. 6-3/255 pound middle linebacker Alex Wujciakis is the Terps' leading tackler with 99 and 5 tackles for a loss. He also has recovered one fumble and has one pass break up. Inside linebacker Dave Philistin is Maryland's second leading tackler with 70 tackles, 4 tackles for a loss, and 1 1/2 sacks.

    On the defensive front, 6-3/280 pound senior defensive end Jeremy Navarre anchors the defensive line having posted 52 tackles on the year. He also has 2 1/2 sacks and 3 pass break ups.

    On third down conversions, Maryland is allowing their opponents 35% on third downs which puts them fourth best in the ACC. In red zone conversions, the Terps are #7 in the ACC allowing opponents to score 82.86 % of the time when inside the twenty.

    Quick stat: Maryland starting quarterback Chris Turner has rushed for a negative 66 yards and 0 TDs. FSU QB Christian Ponder has rushed for 309 yards and 3 TDs.

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