Maryland pass rushers to test Mountaineers

West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen recalled the struggles the Mountaineer offense had last year with Maryland, despite putting up 31 points in a victory in Morgantown.

“It wasn’t one of our better performances of last season,” Holgorsen said. “We struggled to get first downs and score. It’s the same scheme. They’ve got depth and players who started a lot of games last year. They know our offense very well.”

Maryland, 3-0, sacked the Connecticut quarterback six times last weekend and holding the Huskies to just 25 yards rushing. The Terrapins are leading the nation in getting to the quarterback, having sacked the quarterback 15 times this season.

“You have to have guys that have a desire to get to the quarterback,” Edsall said. “You got to have guys that have more than one move, guys that can do things from a technique standpoint that’s going to allow them to combat the things that the offensive lineman is doing in terms of protection. I think it helps when you have guys on either side, plus you have guys that have speed and quickness and power in the middle.”

Linebacker Marcus Whitfield leads the nation with 5.5 sacks, including one that resulted in a safety in the win over Connecticut.

“The biggest thing with Marcus is he has just gained a lot of confidence,” Edsall said. “You’ve seen him come out of his shell. Yannik (Cudjoe-Virgil) helped him. He was behind him, pushing him and he responded.”

Cudjoe-Virgil, who is in his first year with the Terrapin program, has 2.5 sacks of his own in a backup role. He has been often used in third-down passing situations.

“He came to us as a walk-on,” Edsall said. “We saw a guy who worked extremely hard in everything he did. He couldn’t play (in games) last year, but he earned a scholarship.”

Facing an extremely strong pass rush, WVU quarterback Ford Childress knows protection will be at a premium when the two teams renew their border battle at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. The game will be televised on ESPNU.

“I like my o-line,” Childress said. “I think we will do well. We worked a lot on their blitzes. They do some stuff that we haven’t seen this season yet, but we know what it is. We’ve watched a lot of tape on them, so (the linemen) will be able to pick it up.”