Five ponderings and prognostications before Maryland kicks off against Middle Tennessee:
1. Torrey Smith will be Maryland’s career kickoff return yardage leader by day’s end. The sophomore is just 117 yards shy of Keeta Covington’s school record of 1,520 yards, and he’s either scored or gone over 120 return yards in his last four games. There’s a good chance for more fireworks tonight.
2. Chris Turner will become Maryland’s fifth career 5,000-yard passer. The senior needs 123 yards to reach the plateau and join Scott Milanovich, Boomer Esiason, Scott McBrien and Sam Hollenbach in the 5,000 Club. Maryland pretty much needs this to happen; if the Terps can’t throw for 200+ yards every week, they’ll be in trouble.
3. Middle Tennessee will lead at some juncture of the second half. The Blue Raiders aren’t going to be intimidated heading into the stadium of a team they defeated last year. And Maryland hasn’t provided much reason to believe it will run an opponent off the field. This figures to be close much of the way.
4. The Terps won’t win if their turnover margin is -2 or worse. Last week’s defeat of James Madison was an anomaly. Maryland cannot afford to end up seriously in the red in turnovers, and that starts with not messing up on offense and in the return game. At the same time, it would be helpful for the Terps if their defense can create at least one takeaway this week.
5. Dwight Dasher will become the latest Maryland opponent to both throw and run for 100 yards. Drew Dudzik did it last week for James Madison. And until the Terps defense demonstrates otherwise, it’s probably not wise to anticipate an opposing quarterback with slick rushing skills to be bottled up.
By the way, here’s the rundown of opposing quarterbacks who both ran and threw for 100 yards against Maryland since 2001:
Marcus Vick, Virginia Tech, 2005 (211 passing, 133 rushing)
Drew Dudzik, James Madison, 2009 (141 passing, 112 rushing)
Surprised it isn’t longer? You’re not the only one. So the odds are against this prediction being correct. But Dasher is Middle Tennessee’s best offensive weapons, and the Blue Raiders will need a big game from him to leave with a victory.
—- Patrick Stevens