Paul AdkinsSpecial to the Gilbert Times
September 19, 2012
MORGANTOWN - Saturday’s game pitting No. 8 West Virginia against Maryland will be the first test for the Mountaineers as they put their unstoppable force against the Terrapins’ unmovable object.
Maryland, 2-1 and coming off a three-point loss to Connecticut last week, has the eighth-ranked defense in the country.
Maryland has allowed just 227 yards of total offense per game, and it is even better against the pass.
“They have eight or nine of their starters back on defense,” WVU football coach Dana Holgorsen said. “For a personnel standpoint, we’re very familiar with them. From a scheme standpoint, it’s totally different. It’s a different scheme that what they did last year.”
Defensive lineman Joe Vellano anchors a front that has allowed just 2.5 yards per rush and 2.6 sacks per game.
“The Vellano kid is a guy we were concerned with last year,” Holgorsen said. “He’s a big, thick, try-hard guy.”
The defense has shown a knack for forcing turnovers through the first three games. The Terrapins have made their opponents cough the ball up six times in three games. Vellano has one interception, as does linebacker Demetrius Hartsfield. Hartsfield has also recovered two fumbles, and Eric Franklin and A.J. Francis have recovered loose footballs.
The defense has also recorded 21 tackles for loss with Vellano and Cole Farrand each having four.
WVU, 2-0, has seen its offense rack up 452 yards on the ground in the first two games and another 772 yards through the air.
The Mountaineers are ranked fourth nationally in scoring offense, second in passing offense and third in total offense.
“Maryland has a lot of experienced guys on their defense, much like we have on offense,” Holgorsen said. “Much like we have on defense, they have a lot of young kids trying to figure out a new offense. They will continue to get better and better.”
Kick-off for the game is slated for noon, and it will be televised on the FX network.
WVU will hold its annual Hall of Fame induction ceremonies in the Caperton Indoor Facility at 9:30 a.m., and it is open to the public.
A limited number of tickets still remain for the contest, which can be ordered by calling 1-800-WVU-GAME.
Any remaining tickets will go on sale at the north end of the stadium at 10 a.m. Saturday.