Offense a key for Maryland in matchup against No. 4 West Virginia Print
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Tuesday, 11 September 2007 10:37
NCAAF Headline News

 COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) -No. 4 West Virginia is averaging 55 points per game, scored 45 against Maryland last year and has two legitimate Heisman Trophy hopefuls.
If the Terrapins could use 12 men to stop Mountaineers quarterback Pat White and running back Steve Slaton Thursday night, they probably wouldn't need any more help. Since a rule change of that nature is not going to happen, it's up to the Maryland offense to provide a helping hand.
``If the offense can just grind away and keep our defense off the field, keep them fresh, any explosiveness of (West Virginia's) offense is kind of negated,'' Terps guard Andrew Crummey said Tuesday. ``Hopefully, the offensive line will take it upon themselves to keep the ball moving and grind down the clock.''
That was the plan last year, until the Mountaineers scored 28 first-quarter points on their way to a 45-27 blowout. The Terrapins have had to live with the embarrassment of that game for an entire year, and now they've got a chance to make amends in front of a national television audience.
The first order of business is shutting down White and Slaton, who were virtually unstoppable in a season-opening 62-24 win over Western Michigan and a 48-23 rout of Marshall last Saturday.
``They're very explosive. They're the type of guys you can stop for five, six plays, then all of a sudden they break off an 80-yard run,'' Maryland linebacker Erin Henderson said.
Marshall thought it had the Mountaineers under control with a 13-6 halftime lead. Then West Virginia scored three touchdowns in the third quarter and three more TDs in the final 15 minutes.
``I thought they wore (Marshall) down. They can do that if they're on the field a lot,'' Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. ``Obviously we're going to have to play good defense, but if our defense is on the field for a long period of time it will get worn down, too. So we have to do something on offense to control the clock and keep them off the field.''
The Terps don't expect a shutout Thursday, and they know it's quite possible West Virginia could score 30. That won't matter - as long as Maryland finishes with one more point.
``Their offense can basically score at will, so we as an offense have to make sure that we put a lot of points on the board in order to keep up with them,'' wide receiver Danny Oquendo said.
Said Friedgen: ``They're going to score points, there's no doubt about it. Can we score more than them? That's the test.''
Maryland's offense has thus far been efficient, but not very impressive, in wins over overmatched Villanova and Florida International. A victory over West Virginia, however, would lift the program to another level.
``You only have an opportunity to play a top-10 team, especially a top-5 team, once a year,'' Crummey said. ``This is an opportunity of a lifetime, the opportunity of a season, to define ourselves. It's an opportunity we can't pass up.''
 

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