Last week’s results
No. 9 Clemson (6-1, 4-1 ACC) lost to No. 3 Florida State 51-14.
Maryland (5-2, 1-2 ACC) lost at Wake Forest 34-10.
How will Clemson rebound from the Florida State debacle?
The Tigers entered the ACC’s fourth-ever Top Five Matchup, and perhaps the ACC’s biggest game ever, feeling pretty good about themselves. They’d won their last Top 10 matchups against Georgia and LSU, and a win over Florida State would cement them in the BCS National Championship conversation. Instead, Dabo Swinney’s bunch spent this week trying to figure out what went wrong following a 51-14 embarrassment, the program’s worst home loss since 1998.
Now, the question for Swinney is this: how does he gets his team refocused to face a Maryland team that is reeling following the loss of its two best receivers (Stefon Diggs and Deon Long) to season-ending broken legs?
“The biggest thing is Clemson. Let’s get back to work. Our guys are eager to play again and I think that's a good sign,” Swinney said. “I think any time you lose a ballgame you wish you could play again tomorrow.
“That’s one thing about football that’s tough. You have to wait a whole week to go out prove that you are better than you showed last time out. It’s not like baseball or basketball where you can come out the next day and have another chance. I’m proud of our team for how they have responded. Everybody is taking accountability and we just have to take great pride in our preparation.”
Senior right tackle Brandon Thomas said the rebound process began in the locker room following the game, and that Clemson can still challenge for a BCS at-large berth.
“Right then and there, we needed to let the young guys know that the season’s not over,” Thomas said. “Don’t put your head down. Keep your head up. You fought hard, just didn’t go your way. The season’s not over."
Can Clemson’s offense get on track?
Over the last two weeks, Clemson has amassed just 28 points, which includes a Vic Beasley fumble return touchdown. Florida State outgained Clemson 565-326 and offensive coordinator Chad Morris said his unit was “consistently inconsistent,” struggling to run its base offense and had only one player playing well: Thomas.
Swinney and Morris stressed going “back to the basics and working on fundamentals."
“We’ll major in the minors this week,” Swinney said. “Stands, starts, footwork. Treat them like they don’t know anything. Sometimes you have to do that to get consistency. We have a lot of guys who know a lot about football and sometimes they take little things for granted. The little things lead to the big things. When we get the little things correct, we can do big things.”
Who will play quarterback for Maryland?
C.J. Brown led Maryland to a 5-0 start but was knocked out of the Terrapins’ 63-0 loss to Florida State with a chest injury. Backup Caleb Rowe threw for 332 yards in a 27-26 win over Virginia, but Brown started last week at Wake Forest. He left with a concussion, and Rowe threw for 207 yards and a touchdown. This week, Maryland coach Randy Edsall told The Baltimore Sun Brown wasn’t fully healthy and has declined to name a starting quarterback. Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables said both quarterbacks are similar in their running and throwing styles, but it is always preferable for a defense to know exactly who they’ll be going against on Saturday afternoon. Edsall holds all the cards, in that sense.
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday
Place: Byrd Stadium, College Park, Md.
Radio: Clemson and Maryland radio networks (regional)
Spread: Clemson -13 via vegasinsider.com
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes for this article were obtained directly by the author.