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Terps try to survive Heels' heat to stay in ACC kitchen

November 13, 2008|By BOB PARASILITI

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Frying pan, meet fire.

The heat will be on the University of Maryland's defense this week against No. 17 North Carolina.

After Virginia Tech's Darren Evans gave the Terps problems in last week's 23-13 loss to the Hokies, the Tar Heels' ground game could be double trouble.

Maryland gave up 273 yards rushing last week - including 256 by Evans - and most of it came on straight-ahead surges up the middle. But this week will be much different, since North Carolina has two main runners in speedy Shaun Draughn and overpowering Ryan Houston to boost the temperature.

The double-duty format is something Maryland will have to contend with after having problems with just one Evans.

"(Virginia Tech) was just straight ahead," said Maryland linebacker Moise Fokou. "North Carolina uses some trickery and gadgetry. We have to get in there and adjust because it is a different mindset."

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Tricks aside, North Carolina will be looking to come at Maryland, especially after watching the tapes from the loss to Virginia Tech. While the Tar Heels will be looking to get outside to pop Draughn for the long runs, the work of Houston on the inside could be all the more inviting after Evans' performance last week.

"There were five plays that Virginia Tech had that got 150 yards," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. "They took it to our boundary. That is probably the first thing North Carolina will try to do."

It was one of those games for Maryland's defense coming at one of those worst possible times. The Terps lost their No. 23 ranking and the half-game lead in the Atlantic Coast Conference's Atlantic Division all at once.

The main reason was Virginia Tech found a crack that no other team had found against the Terps. The Hokies collected more than double the 131.1 rushing yards per game that Maryland had allowed, while controlling the ball for 15 more minutes.

"We had a good gameplan," Fokou said. "We knew they were going to run the ball. They ran some pretty basic plays. The big plays they got came off breakdowns. We couldn't do anything to control them."

Maryland is shuffling around its defensive personnel for what Friedgen predicts will be a highly physical game with North Carolina. The Tar Heels revived the running game after quarterback T.J. Yates went down with an injury.

Cameron Sexton took over at quarterback and will remain the starter even though Yates is ready to return. He has helped key the UNC running game because of his style of play.

"We're coached really well on how to run the football," Sexton said to The Associated Press during North Carolina's Monday media conference.

"We don't have guys who are necessarily looking to bounce it," Sexton said. "I think they're doing a good job of finding those very tight creases in ACC football. They're hard to come by, but we have a good understanding of if it's not there, let's not make a big loss. Let's just get what we can and try to move the ball."

It is a situation the Terps have been in before and will probably draw on to get ready for the Heels. Maryland had similar dynamics when it faced Clemson with the power-running James Davis and speedster C.J. Spiller.

"We can kind of look back to how we did against Clemson," Fokou said. "That is one of the things we have been working on this week. Virginia Tech was a conventional team with conventional plays to the trick plays of North Carolina. It is a matter of changing our mindset. If we can prevent the big play, we'll be OK."

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