COLLEGE PARK, Md. — When Clemson coach Dabo Swinney looks at Maryland, he doesn’t see a sub-.500 team embroiled in a quarterback controversy and struggling to find an identity under a first-year coach. He sees danger.
The No. 8 Tigers have every reason to be fearless heading into tonight’s Atlantic Coast Conference game against the Terrapins. Off to its best start in 11 years, Clemson (6-0, 3-0) whisked through a stretch of three consecutive games against Top 25 teams before blowing away Boston College past week.
“I’m proud of them,” Swinney said of the Tigers. “They’re getting better.”
Maryland (2-3, 1-1) has dropped three of its past four in coach Randy Edsall’s first season at the school. The lone win during that stretch came against FCS foe Towson, and the Terps led that game by only 7-3 at halftime.
Although Maryland played well last week against then-No. 13 Georgia Tech, the Terps emerged from the game without a bona fide starter at quarterback. Danny O’Brien struggled in a third consecutive start and was replaced by sophomore C.J. Brown, who ran for a 77-yard touchdown and produced 13 second-half points in a 21-16 defeat.
Edsall won’t announce his starter until just before kickoff.
So what’s Swinney worried about?
“You have to guard against distractions,” he said. “It’s easy to lose your focus and get complacent. You start reading your press clippings and listen to everyone tell you how good you are. Teams lose their focus and their humility and then they lose.”
Swinney’s concern has spread to offensive coordinator Chad Morris.
“All you have to do is turn the film on to show we still have room for improvement,” said Morris. “The one thing I’ll definitely do is bust their balloon if I have any indication of that.”