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Wind, not rain, could play deciding factor in Maryland-Michigan

COLLEGE PARK — The rain from Hurricane Joaquin that's expected for Maryland's game against Michigan on Saturday is nothing new for coach Randy Edsall and the Terps. They've already experienced a weather delay in a loss to Bowling Green on Sept. 12. Quarterback Caleb Rowe led Maryland to a rain-soaked win over Virginia two years ago. Even Edsall's Terps debut more four years ago against Miami was a dreary affair. Byrd Stadium didn't even have turf then, either.

But the main difficulty from Joaquin, which has a variety of uncertain tracks and projections for its landfall, will probably come from a combination of the elements. And that's what Edsall and his staff have been trying to get the Terps ready for.

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"If it's just kind of a steady rain, I think you can combat that," Edsall said. "The thing that makes is tough is if you have the rain and it looks like they're calling for anything from 15 to 25 mph winds, so I think you get the wind, you get the rain and you get the cold, that could make it a little bit difficult to throw the football."

Edsall said he'd been keeping an eye on the weather all week long. With the game being moved from its expected 8 p.m. kickoff to noon, Edsall said the biggest change is a loss of some meeting time before the game. But the Terps have already played two noon games at home this season, so they know the routine and timing of things well.

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The Terps have shown in the past that they will pass the ball in the rain. The top two passing performances of Edsall's tenure came in the two aforementioned rainy contests, with Danny O'Brien throwing for 348 yards in a win over Miami and Rowe throwing for 332 yards in a one-point victory over Virginia.

So the wind becomes the biggest factor. Byrd Stadium is located on North Campus, where the high-rise dorms create wind tunnels, and that could create havoc. Rowe has the strongest arm of any Maryland quarterbacks, but there comes a point where the wind is too much. The kicking game could also be severely impact by swirling winds. But there could also be a benefit — when kicker Brad Craddock hit his school-record 57-yard field goal against Ohio State last season, the wind was at his back.

"We were kind of watching that all week long ourselves as coaches in terms of what was taking place," Edsall said Thursday. "We were trying to formulate a plan that was trying to be able to deal with anything we might have to deal with so, we feel good about the plan we have going on. Now we just got to go in there Saturday and execute."

No matter all of the preparation Maryland does, there's still an element left to chance. Joaquin could track out to sea and scrape by the region. Or College Park could bear the brunt of it. Everything will come down to adapting to the situation.

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"These storms are so uncertain sometimes in terms of what can happen and what can transpire," Edsall said. "We'll be ready to adjust to whatever we need to adjust to."

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