As USF hits the road for the second straight week to take on Maryland (Saturday, noon; ESPNU), Oracle sports editor Jeff Odom caught up with Roman Stubbs of the Washington Post to break down the Terrapins.
Jeff Odom: After a solid victory over Richmond in its opener, Maryland seemed to get annihilated by Bowling Green. Are the Falcons that good, or are there bigger issues for Randy Edsall and Co. to solve heading into to Saturday's game against USF?
Roman Stubbs: "Bowling Green has a prolific system, but this loss was on Maryland. It had seven three and outs or worse and for turnovers. The offense was devoid of a vertical passing threat and couldn’t handle a loaded box to establish the running game. The defense made several critical errors and couldn’t get off the field on third down, forced to run 105 plays. That was largely a product of Maryland’s offensive ineptitude, which the staff has addressed with new starters at quarterback and wide receiver this week."
JO: Replacing a longtime starting quarterback like C.J. Brown, I'm sure, isn't an easy task. USF is still searching for a long-term solution to replace B.J. Daniels, who graduated in 2012. How unsettled is Maryland's situation under center between Perry Hills and Caleb Rowe, and who might emerge as the starter come game day?
RS: "Rowe will start. He has the most powerful arm on the roster and gives the offense the best chance at stretching the field, which in turn Maryland hopes will open up the running attack and play-action passing game. Coming off an ACL injury, Rowe was rusty physically and mentally during camp, but the staff has been encouraged by his progress throughout the past couple weeks. Barring injury or a complete meltdown, I’d expect him to be the starter moving forward."
JO: Last season, USF forced six turnovers against the Terrapins and still lost by a touchdown. Now, with new coordinator Tom Allen incorporating his new 4-2-5 scheme, the Bulls have shown flashes against both Florida A&M and FSU that they are a more well-rounded unit than they were in 2014. How concerning is that to a Maryland offense that seems somewhat out of sorts?
RS: "Maryland offensive coordinator Mike Locksley is definitely concerned with South Florida’s athleticism and physicality. He referenced both Demetrius Hill and Zack Bullock as dangerous pass rushers who must be accounted for this week. I expect Maryland to take more shots downfield this week in an effort to free up the line of scrimmage to run the ball."
JO: Switching gears to the Maryland defense, which allowed BGSU to put up 201 rushing yards. How does it stack up against USF's potent rushing attack led by sophomore Marlon Mack?
RS: "Maryland is geared more toward stopping a more conventional offense – South Florida runs a spread and has seems to have capable athlete on the perimeter, but the defense has made stopping Mack a priority. Shutting down lanes for Mack and Flowers will be paramount. Maryland must improve on defending the zone-read, which will be interesting considering how South Florida has implemented that feature into its offense with Mack."
JO: The early betting lines favor Maryland by anywhere from 9-10 points against the Bulls. Do you see the Terps bouncing back and spoiling what some might consider the first "signature win" for USF coach Willie Taggart?
RS: "I do. It won’t come easy against a team that made Florida State scramble at times last week. Considering the response from the fan base to last week’s 21-point loss against a MAC opponent, Maryland simply can’t afford another setback against an opponent it is heavily favored against. I expect a sense of desperation in their performance and would be surprised if they don’t pull out a win over the Bulls for a second consecutive year."
Follow Jeff Odom on Twitter, @byjeffodom