- Associated Press - Friday, October 14, 2011

COLLEGE PARK, MD. (AP) - When Clemson coach Dabo Swinney looks at Maryland, he doesn’t see a sub-.500 team embroiled in a quarterback controversy and struggling to find an identity under a first-year coach.

Swinney sees danger.

The No. 8 Tigers have every reason to be fearless heading into Saturday night’s Atlantic Coast Conference game against the Terrapins. Off to its best start in 11 years, Clemson (6-0, 3-0) whisked through a stretch of three straight games against Top 25 teams before blowing away Boston College past week.

“I’m proud of them,” Swinney said the Tigers. “They’re getting better.”

Maryland (2-3, 1-1) has dropped three of its last four in coach Randy Edsall’s first season at the school. The lone win during that stretch came against FCS foe Towson, and the Terps led that game by only 7-3 at halftime.

Although Maryland played well last week against then-No. 13 Georgia Tech, the Terps emerged from the game without a bona fide starter at quarterback. Danny O’Brien struggled in a third consecutive start and was replaced by sophomore C.J. Brown, who ran for a 77-yard touchdown and produced 13 second-half points in a 21-16 defeat.

Edsall won’t announce his starter until just before kickoff, but between them they’ve totaled seven interceptions and only five touchdown passes.

So what’s Swinney worried about?


“You have to guard against distractions,” he said. “It’s easy to lose your focus and get complacent. You start reading your press clippings and listen to everyone tell you how good you are. Teams lose their focus and their humility and then they lose.”

Noting that the Terrapins beat Miami and hung tight with West Virginia and Georgia Tech, Swinney said, “They’re very capable. We’re going to have to play very well.”

Swinney’s concern has spread to offensive coordinator Chad Morris, who wasn’t satisfied even after watching the Tigers ring up 500 yards in offense against Boston College.

“All you have to do is turn the film on to show we still have room for improvement,” said Morris, who has no intention of allowing the Tigers to lose focus while preparing to face the 10th-ranked defense in the 12-team ACC.

“The one thing I’ll definitely do is bust their balloon if I have any indication of that,” he said.

Edsall hesitated naming his starting quarterback in part because he wanted to keep Swinney and the Tigers guessing. But Swinney expects the Terrapins to try to run, in part because their quarterbacks completed only five passes last week.

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