The Minnesota Golden Gophers take on the the Maryland Terrapins this weekend, and there are several position clashes that should get extra attention. For part one, go here.
Fourth Matchup: Maryland Defensive Line vs. Minnesota Quarterback Conor Rhoda
The defensive front of the Terrapins, fresh off a loss, will be coming for Rhoda to try to throw him off his game. Kieron Howard, Bryce Brand and Andrew Isaacs have a combined 3.5 sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss, and will try to add to that Saturday. Their job will be to keep Rhoda in the pocket, then create pressure before he gets a chance to make a decision. Rhoda’s best friend to combat this will be play action. Maryland knows they have to stack the box and expect a big game out of their defensive line.
On play action, Rhoda can get out into space and put pressure on the safeties in coverage who have to compensate for all the defenders that bite on the run. Connection between Rhoda and wide receiver Tyler Johnson has looked good through two weeks, and racked up 268 yards with two scores. In order to keep the wins coming, Rhoda needs to find that rhythm with the team’s top receiver again.
Fifth Matchup: Maryland Cornerback Darnell Savage Jr vs. Minnesota Wide Receiver Tyler Johnson
So far, Savage has put up solid numbers against decent competition, piling up 17 tackles, two passes batted down and a 75-yard pick six. But his competition in Johnson is a good one, racking up 282 yards and two touchdowns thus far. Last week, Savage was second on the team in tackles with six, while Johnson had a season low in catches and yards, snagging two for 14 yards.
But Savage will have his work cut out for him. Johnson is a big, explosive receiver and a deep threat in the Minnesota offense. Johnson is best on deep post routes and corner routes. He’s also great after the catch, putting on the burners and speeding past tacklers to find the end zone on two touchdowns over 60-yards. Savage will try to press Johnson on the line of scrimmage to disrupt the timing of the routes. Johnson needs to get a clean release on the line of scrimmage to win the battle.
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