Maryland-FIU: Terps Welcome Golden Panthers in Final Tune-Up Before ACC Play

Andrew StewartContributor ISeptember 22, 2010

CHESTNUT HILL, MA - NOVEMBER 29:  Da'Rel Scott #23 of the Maryland Terrapins carries the ball in the first half against the Boston College Eagles on November 29, 2008 at Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Elsa/Getty Images

After a disappointing 31-17 loss to West Virginia in Morgantown, WV, the Maryland Terrapins (2-0) are back in College Park, MD gearing up for the Florida International Golden Panthers (0-2).

The Terrapins will be televised this Saturday at 12:00 pm ET on ESPNU for the second straight week.

Florida International comes to College Park with a very deceiving 0-2 record. In their two losses this season against Rutgers and Texas A&M, the Golden Panther were outscored by only 12 points.

The Golden Panthers led Texas A&M 20-6 before the Aggies went on to score 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter.

The Golden Panthers suffered a similar defeat to Rutgers to open the season. Going into the fourth quarter, the Golden Panthers led the Scarlet Knights 14-13 before Mohamed Sanu scored what ended up being the game-winning touchdown two minutes into the fourth quarter.

The Golden Panthers are led by transfer quarterback Wesley Carroll. In his freshman season at Mississippi State, Carroll threw for 1,392 yards and nine touchdowns, earning a spot on the ALL-SEC freshman team. Carroll transferred to FIU after losing the starting job to Tyson Lee in 2008.

Carroll made his FIU debut against Rutgers on Sept. 11. Through two games, the Fort Lauderdale native has thrown for 283 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. Carroll’s struggles at Mississippi State can be attributed to his combined 50 percent completion percentage at both Mississippi State and FIU and 19 interceptions thrown in 21 games.

The Terrapins enter Saturday’s game with the ninth best pass defense in the country, giving up 129 yards a game. It should be noted that the Navy Midshipmen quarterback Ricky Dobbs only attempted 10 passes while picking up over 400 yards on the ground.

The Terrapins' ninth-ranked pass defense has also given up four touchdowns through the air.

Maryland’s defense shouldered most of the blame for last Saturday’s loss to West Virginia. The Terrapins were only able to close in on the Mountaineers' overwhelming lead after a long awaited breakout game from receiver Torrey Smith.

Smith entered last week’s game with four catches for 47 yards. Maryland entered the second half of the West Virginia game down 21-0, and Smith had only one reception for nine yards. After falling behind 28-0 early in the second half, Smith struck for Maryland’s first score of the game on a 60-yard touchdown reception from Jamarr Robinson.

Robinson later led Smith across the middle of the field for an 80-yard catch and run touchdown. Smith finished the game with three catches for 149 yards and two touchdowns.

Running backs Davin Meggett and Da’Rel Scott have combined for 291 yards to pace the Terps' rushing attack. Scott and Meggett were unable to get anything going on the ground against the Mountaineers. The duo carried the ball 13 times for 36 yards.

Junior quarterback Jamarr Robinson, the third member of Maryland’s trio, has rushed for 88 yards and has showed his ability to create plays downfield with his legs. Robinson rushed for 92 yards in the season-opening win over Navy. However, with Maryland giving up eight sacks this year, Robinson’s rushing stats can be overlooked.

The Terrapins showed their inability to stop the run last week against West Virginia in giving up 201 rushing yards to the Mountaineers.

Maryland’s rush defense will be tested again this Saturday. FIU is led by sophomore running back Jeremiah Harden. At only 5'9" Harden poses a threat to Maryland’s defense after Maryland has showed its struggles with short, agile running backs.

Harden has rushed for 145 yards so far through two games. Maryland's rush defense has given up an average of over 200 yards this year.

Maryland’s rush defense can be fixed. A lot of the Terps' struggles on the defensive side of the ball can be attributed to technique. However, the outcome of the FIU game will probably not yield any sign whether Maryland has made reliable progress.

The Golden Panthers could hurt the Terps similar to how Middle Tennessee State has in recent years if the Terrapins overlook the Panthers' 0-2 record.

Saturday’s game could end up becoming a defensive struggle for both teams. Neither team has yet to air it out this season; Saturday could turn into a game of field possession and blocking. As most field possession games go, the team that does not turn the ball over could most likely come away with the victory.