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There’s Plenty of Unfamiliarity for WVU, Terps

September 16, 2011
By JIM ELLIOTT (elliott@theintelligencer.net) , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

MORGANTOWN - West Virginia and Maryland have played football against each other 48 times, including 28 in the last 30 years. In theory, there's familiarity all over the place.

So why all of the question marks?

Well, it's because Maryland's head coach, Randy Edsall, was at UConn last season. The Terps' offensive coordinator, Gary Crowton, was the offensive coordinator at LSU last season. Maryland's defensive coordinator, Todd Bradford, was at Southern Miss. West Virginia's head coach was the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State.

All of that means the familiarity is in the history books but completely lost in the playbooks.

Edsall was long known for power running with the Huskies. Crowton's background is in the passing game.

Making matters worse, Maryland, which beat Miami in its season opener, had a bye week last week.

''For us, it's almost like an opener again because we've only got one film on them,'' said WVU defensive coordinator Jeff Casteel, the lone holdover among the big decision-makers in this game. ''That's a little disadvantage for us.''

In some ways, but opening against Miami is a little different than opening against ShowMeNothing State. The Terps surely didn't hold anything back on offense or defense in order to come out on top that night.

''I would think that being a conference game, you definitely want to play to win,'' Casteel said. ''But also, I'm sure they're going to add things. They had an open week. I'm sure they geared their camp toward Miami and knowing they're going to have two weeks after their first game to get ready for the second opponent. I'm sure they're going to have some new things that we haven't seen.''

Yes, will it be the Edsall running, or the Crowton passing?

''It's an interesting dynamic,'' Holgorsen said. ''Watching what they did at UConn, we all know what they did. It's far from what you're going to see on Saturday. They will get in a few different tight-end sets and pound the ball at you a little bit. Looking at where coach Crowton has been, he's spent the last few years at LSU. Before then, he was at Louisiana Tech and BYU, where it was nothing but spread and a whole bunch of stuff that we like to do, and what we used to do at Texas Tech.

''Offensive football is offensive football. If you match well, it doesn't matter what scheme you're in. If you can get good at what you believe in and make sure you don't turn it over and don't put yourself in bad situations, limit your penalties, then you've got a chance to win.''

That puts more pressure on the West Virginia defense, which has not yet given up a touchdown or forced a turnover. The Terps ran screen play after screen play against the Hurricanes.

''You have to get off blocks and tackle,'' Casteel said. ''Everybody runs it. It's a way to get the ball in the perimeter and get guys in space. The way you slow it is getting off blocks and tackling.''

In the end, Holgorsen can't wait for his first road game as WVU's coach, as well as his first game against an opponent from a BCS conference.

''They're obviously a good football team,'' he said. ''It's challenging. They've won some games, they've got kids that are used to winning and guys that were highly recruited. I saw that Maryland has the 10th-highest number of former players on NFL rosters right now. It's obviously a place where they have an abundance of talent. We're looking forward to the challenge. If we want to consider ourselves a Top 20 team, win a national championship or go to a BCS bowl game, then we've got to beat teams like this.''

Series Continues

Last year, West Virginia Athletics Director Oliver Luck announced the Maryland football series will be extended for four more years after the currenty contract runs out.

The new one begins at Maryland in 2014, then twice in Morgantown (2015 and 2016), before ending at College Park in 2017.

The series was played every year from 1980-2007, then took a hiatus after the Mountaineers had polished off the Terps a fourth straight time, their longest winning streak in the series. That came on the heels of a four-game winning streak by the Terps.