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first_img Published on September 19, 2014 at 12:30 am Contact Jacob: [email protected] | @Jacob_Klinger_ Facebook Twitter Google+ Maryland fits in with Florida State and Clemson in Chuck Bullough’s mind — in team speed.“Those are legitimate NFL-talent kind of guys,” the Syracuse defensive coordinator said.The athletic advantages SU’s defense used to win its first game, and dominated its second with, are gone. A week after the Orange (2-0) held an opponent to three points, parts of the SU defense see themselves as underdogs against the unranked Terrapins they’ll host at 12:30 p.m. in the Carrier Dome on Saturday. Syracuse has watched a Maryland (2-1) team that both makes and extends plays, scrambles assignments and runs past less gifted opponents.SU is out to prove it’s not one of those teams; or that if it is, it doesn’t matter.“We have the speed, we have the ability, we have the talent to match up with anybody,” junior cornerback Julian Whigham said. “And we’ll prove that this Saturday.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textEven if Syracuse covers Maryland’s receivers, most notably Stefon Diggs and Deon Long, through the end of their routes, the play is far from over. The running ability of Terrapins quarterback C.J. Brown gives his receivers the chance to break off plays and find their own space.Villanova quarterback John Robertson’s scrambling brought SU within a 25-yard field goal of losing its season opener. Robertson didn’t have Brown’s options, though.“We know that they’re great players, we know that they can run, we know that they can run routes but we’re on scholarship too,” Whigham said. “And we can play and we expect to play with these guys.”The 5-foot-7 Poppy Livers was Villanova’s top receiving threat. Brown has the second-best receiver in the Class of 2012 in Diggs in the slot and Deon Long — who Whigham said he will cover — out wide, with Whigham and Long both standing 6 feet tall. Who covers Diggs will shift based on the Orange’s coverages, but the SU pass rush that wreaked havoc against an immobile Central Michigan team will look to make any matchup irrelevant.A defensive line that’s growing to include Wayne Williams and Ryan Sloan allows Ron Thompson, who made five sacks against the Chippewas last Saturday, to play outside more. The Orange can pressure Brown, but catching him requires setting an edge to his pocket.Senior linebacker Cameron Lynch points to the approximately 10 40-yard sprints Syracuse runs at the end of each practice as the base for SU’s ability to hurry Brown and Maryland out of Saturday’s game.“We’ve played fast,” Lynch said. “We’ve played athletes from West Virginia, we’ve played athletes from Florida State. We’ve seen the fastest of the fastest.”Whigham said the secondary carries an underdog outlook into Saturday’s game, partly from hype surrounding Maryland, but also from watching the Terrapins’ stars on game film.It leaves him and the rest of the Orange defense with a point to prove in their first full-field athletic test of the season. He and the other defensive backs do have to worry about the deep ball, and the SU pass rush will pursue a quarterback that can evade it and find an open receiver.The Syracuse defenders said they think they have enough speed to shut down Maryland’s high-speed weapons. But safety Durell Eskridge said that Syracuse also saw the best way forward as hitting the Terrapins before they can run by them.Said Eskridge: “Put our hands on them. Just watching them, I think they don’t like to really be touched.” Commentslast_img read more