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The Replacements: Previewing Maryland-Georgia Tech

The Terrapins have lost three starting quarterbacks in the past two weeks, and enter Saturday's contest against Georgia Tech with a linebacker behind center. Does Maryland stand a chance?


It's been another rough week for Maryland football. After a heartbreaking loss to NC State where two starting quarterbacks were lost for the year (Perry Hills and his replacement, Devin Burns), Maryland lost a gut-wrencher on the road to Boston College, and lost their only remaining quarterback to another injury (Caleb Rowe). The Terps now return home to face Georgia Tech, with Shawn Perry, a true freshman linebacker, as the starting quarterback.

Petty did play quarterback in high school at local Eleanor Roosevelt, but played in a triple option offense. As Ben Broman at Testudo Times pointed out in this terrific rundown of the projected new-look offense, Petty certainly brings the zone read back into the fold in a major way, which should help bolster the Terps' ground game. The true freshman isn't completely useless with the arm, however - despite an extremely long wind-up, he throws a good ball.

The Terps face a Georgia Tech team that enters the game 3-5, with quarterback issues of a different kind - the Yellow Jackets don't know who to start. Senior Tevin Washington and sophomore Vad Lee are the two choices, and both will likely play this Saturday. Washington has had many more opportunities than Lee this season, but he has struggled - although he has 19 total touchdowns through eight games, he only has 481 yards on the ground and has yet to crack the 1,000 yard mark through the air. He's done well to get in the end zone (particularly earlier in the year, where he put together a three game stretch with 11 total touchdowns), but his inconsistency problems remain.

Lee, who has had about a quarter as many snaps as Washington, only has six touchdowns on the year, but has been extremely more efficient. His yards per rush dwarfs Washington's (7.49 to 4.14) and he's doing better passing as well (11.41 yards per attempt compared to 9.85). So far, Lee has come off the bench, but Paul Johnson has been unwilling to name his starter for Saturday as of yet.

Georgia Tech, for those who are unfamiliar with their offense, runs a triple option, and their statistics match up accordingly. They are fourth in the nation in rushing with over 310 yards per game, but 115th in passing with under 150 yards per game. Washington leads the team in rushing, but he's gotten help from Lee and others. Senior Orwin Smith has 44 rushes for 434 yards and three touchdowns, while Zach Laskey has 79 rushes for 432 yards and a score. David Sims rounds out the starters with 52 rushes for a disappointing 186 yards. The group doesn't have an Anthony Allen or a Jonathan Dwyer, but they'll rack up yards in bunches.

This Tech team is also without a Demaryius Thomas or Stephen Hill at wideout. Only two players have at least ten receptions - Smith, who has 13 for 176 yards out of the backfield, and 6'4" sophomore Jeff Greene, who has 12 receptions for 233 yards and two scores.

The Yellow Jacket's rushing defense has been around average, giving up about 150 yards per game on the ground. Their passing defense, however, has been awful. The unit ranks second-to-last in the ACC, giving up over 260 yards per game, and they're averaging just over a sack and a half per game.

The defense is led by safety Isaiah Johnson, who has 55 tackles (five for a loss) and returned an interception for a touchdown against BYU last week. At outside linebacker is Brandon Watts, who has 50 tackles with a team-high nine for a loss, and cornerback Jemea Thomas has two interceptions.

This is another game that Maryland would be favored win if they had, well, any of their quarterbacks. Georgia Tech has lost four of five (including a blowout at home to Middle Tennessee State), and has a porous defense with not enough offense to support it. However, it's hard to imagine the Terps scoring enough to compete with anybody for the rest of the year.

Prediction: Georgia Tech 24, Maryland 6. The Terrapin defense does their best, but ultimately Maryland can't move the ball as the Yellow Jackets stack the box and stuff the running game.