Maryland Game Notes
Maryland was eliminated from the ACC Atlantic Division race with Saturday's heart-breaking 30-16 home loss to Florida State. The Terps were done in by uncharacteristically turning the ball over. However, this Saturday's home game, which will serve as Senior Day for the Terps, has division title implications as NC State needs a win to earn a trip to the ACC Championship game.
The Terrapins, who have improved their win total by five games from a year ago under 10th-year head coach Ralph Friedgen, hope to bolster their bowl stock and knock off a ranked team.
• The Maryland offense, under third-year coordinator and assistant head coach James Franklin, has been an efficient and mostly mistake-free unit this year. The Terps, who have posted over 400 total yards in three of the last four games, rank 46th nationally in scoring offense (31.4 ppg) and still lead the ACC in fewest turnovers (12), despite a season-high four (three on offense) vs. Florida State (11/20).
RBs Da'Rel Scott and Davin Meggett, and WR Torrey Smith have all produced for an offense which has scored seven times this season on plays of 40 yards or more. Smith, one of the most dynamic players in the nation, has eight TD receptions (second in the ACC) and is averaging 74.6 receiving yards per game (third in the ACC). He is also third in the ACC in all-purpose yards (117.6 ypg) despite battling an ankle injury. Danny O'Brien has emerged as the starting QB since subbing for an injured Jamarr Robinson (shoulder) against FIU (9/25). O'Brien, who has started the last eight games (5-3 record), has earned ACC Rookie of the Week honors four times (vs. FIU, 9/25; vs. BC, 10/23; vs. Wake Forest, 10/30; vs. Virginia, 11/13). O'Brien ranks fifth in the ACC in passing efficiency (128.6) and sixth among FBS freshmen.
The o-line has allowed two or fewer sacks in nine games, including just a pair to FSU, the national leader in that category. The line depth has been depleted by injury with LT Justin Gilbert (knee) and RT Pete DeSouza (fractured legs) out for the season. RT Paul Pinegar (moved from center), LG Andrew Gonnella and LT R.J. Dill (moved from RT) have the most experience along the line. RG Justin Lewis and C Bennett Fulper man the other two spots, though both suffered injuries during the FSU game.
• The linebacker corps, including two-time All-ACC performer Alex Wujciak, and a hard-hitting secondary anchor the defense under second-year coordinator Don Brown. The Terps, who have scored four times defensively (tied for third in the FBS), rank 37th nationally in points allowed (21.6 ppg) and are tied for 16th in red-zone defense (74 percent).
Maryland is allowing foes to gain just 4.8 yards per play, which ranks tied for second in the ACC. The Terps possess four of the top 20 tacklers in the ACC. Wujciak, who was listed among the preseason candidates for five national awards, ranks fourth in the league and 27th nationally in tackles (9.6 pg).
LB Adrian Moten, a playmaker throughout his career, ranks tied for 20th in the ACC in stops (6.1 pg) and tied for eighth in passes defended (0.82 pg). Demetrius Hartsfield, the third member of the linebacking corps, ranks third on the team in stops (68). Joe Vellano ranks fifth in the ACC in tackles among linemen (4.8 pg) and has a team-high five sacks.
The secondary has a number of playmakers. CB Cameron Chism is tied with SS Antwine Perez for the team lead in pass breakups (seven), while FS Kenny Tate ranks tied for sixth in the ACC in tackles (8.0 pg), first in forced fumbles (0.36 pg) and tied for 10th in interceptions (0.27 pg).
• Special teams was expected be a strength this season with all the top performers back and the Terps have been solid overall through 11 games. Travis Baltz, a 2008 first team All-ACC punter, has handled both kicking chores this season. Baltz, who was a candidate for the Ray Guy Award, has connected on 12 of his 14 FG attempts and is averaging 42.6 yards per punt, which is fifth in the league. Junior Tony Logan has been one of the top punt returners in the nation. He has returned two punts for scores, becoming one of just two players in ACC history to post consecutive games with a return for a score. Logan is also averaging 19.4 ypr which is third in the FBS. Smith was one of the top kick returners in the country last season, posting an ACC single-season record 1,309 yards. He also is the career leader in the league as well, setting that mark vs. Miami (11/6).
Maryland is bowl eligible for the seventh time in Ralph Friedgen's 10 seasons.
• The Terps are seeking their fifth eight-win regular season under Friedgen (2001-03, 2006). The Terps have a chance to win at least nine games for the 14th time in school history. Four of those have come during Friedgen's tenure.
• Maryland, 2-9 at this point last year, has posted the best turnaround in the ACC (+5). No other team's win total has increased by more than four (NC State) from its 2009 record through 11 contests. The five-win increase is also the second-best turnaround in the FBS so far this year (Miami [Ohio] - 6). The turnaround in the win column matches the best in school history during the modern era (also 2000-01 under Friedgen, and 1944-45).
• Saturday's game will serve as the final appearance for 16 seniors: LB Adrian Moten, DB Antwine Perez, WR LaQuan Williams, WR Adrian Cannon, DB Kevin Brown, DL Drew Gloster, RB Da'Rel Scott, DB Michael Carter, RB Mike Salvatico, LB Alex Wujciak, P/PK Travis Baltz, P Ted Townsley, OL Paul Pinegar, WR Emani Lee-Odai, WR Joey McQueeney and TE Will Yeatman. They will be honored before kickoff.
• Friedgen became the 13th head coach in ACC history to amass 70 career wins with the victory over Duke (10/2). The win over Virginia was his 73rd which places him in a tie for third in school history with Jim Tatum. Curley Byrd is the all-time leader with 119 and Jerry Claiborne is second (77).
• Danny O'Brien threw for 269 yards vs. FSU (11/20) and is now in 13th place on the ACC single-season freshman passing yardage list (1,840). He also had his 17th TD pass of the season, moving him into a tie for fifth on Maryland's single-season passing TD list. It marks the most TD passes by a Terp since Scott McBrien had 19 in 2003. Scott Milanovich has the school record with 26 in 1993.
• Torrey Smith posted 147 all-purpose yards vs. FSU (11/20) to move from 15th to 13th on the ACC career list (4,911). He needs 89 all-purpose yards to become the eighth player in league history with 5,000 or more, and 50 to set the Maryland career mark. LaMont Jordan (1997-00) had 4,960 in his career.
• Wujciak had 10 tackles against FSU (11/20), giving him 105 on the season. The senior has at least 100 tackles in three straight seasons and is just the sixth player in school history to accomplish that feat (also D'Qwell Jackson, E.J. Henderson, Eric Barton, Ratcliff Thomas and Chuck Faucette).
• Kenny Tate posted his third interception this season in the FSU game (11/20). The Terps have 16 interceptions this year, the most since 2002 when they had 18. Eight of those interceptions have come from linebackers (Moten - 4; Wujciak - 2; Demetrius Hartsfield - 1; Ryan Donohue - 1).
GETTING OFFENSIVE ON DEFENSE...
The Terps have four interception returns for touchdowns this season, including three in the last four games. No team in the ACC has posted more than two this year. In fact, the other 11 teams in the league have combined for 15 with BC, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Miami, UNC and NC State posting two apiece. The four interception returns for a TD are tied for second in the FBS (see below), while the team's four defensive scores are tied for third in the country.
BREAKING UP IS EASY TO DO...
The Terps, who rank third in the ACC in passing efficiency defense, have been an aggressive bunch this season. The defense has already posted 45 pass breakups on the season after tallying 29 all of 2009.
Antwine Perez ranks tied for fourth in the ACC in passes defended (0.91 pg) while Adrian Moten is tied for eighth (0.82 pg). In addition, Cameron Chism is tied with Perez for the team lead with seven pass breakups. Chism and Perez had two of the best games in the country this season knocking down passes. Chism had four PBUs vs. FIU (9/25) and Perez matched that total vs. Duke (10/2), tallies that are tied for the most in one FBS game this season.
Maryland has not had a punt blocked in 135 straight games, but over that time span the Terps have blocked 16 of the opposition's, including four on the season (two vs. Wake Forest, 10/30; two vs. Morgan State, 9/11). LaQuan Williams registered the Terps' third blocked punt of the season in the opening quarter vs. the Demon Deacons. The 11-yard punt gave the Terps the ball at the WF 32. Maryland kicked a field goal 10 plays later. Nick Peterson added Maryland's fourth block punt of year in the second quarter. That block was recovered by Kevin Dorsey and the Terps scored two plays later on a 3-yard pass from Danny O'Brien to Haroon Brown. The Terps have scored following all four blocked punts this season (also 10 points vs. Morgan State). Maryland also blocked an extra point vs. Miami (11/6).
DID YOU KNOW?...
Alex Wujciak's 238 career interception return yards are tied for fourth in the FBS among active players (first among linebackers).
HOLDING ONTO THE BALL...
Despite an uncharacteristic four turnovers last week against Florida State (11/20), the Terps have been among the best teams in the nation this season at not committing turnovers. Maryland is second in the ACC and tied for ninth nationally in turnover margin (+1.0 pg). The Terps, plus-11 on the season, have won the turnover battle in eight of 11 games. Only fi ve teams in the nation (Oregon St., Iowa, Wisconsin, Navy and TCU) have committed fewer turnovers than Maryland (12).
The Terps have been much more effective in making explosive plays to score points this year than they were last season.
• Maryland has 68 explosive plays (defined as 20 yards or longer) this year, and the Terps have scored 17 touchdowns on those plays. In 2009, Maryland had just 13 TDs off explosive plays the entire season.
• The Terps have 16 plays of 50 yards or longer this year - seven on passes, four on punt returns, three on rushes and two on interception returns. In 2009, Maryland had eight plays of 50 yards or longer.
Maryland Head Coach Quotables
"Preparing for N.C. State, they are a very good football team. Offensively they are very explosive. Obviously you look at them and scoring wise they're averaging 32 points a game, second in the ACC. They're the most productive passing team in the ACC. It starts with Russell Wilson who is really an outstanding quarterback. He's not only a good thrower but he's very mobile. He sees the field very well and makes good decisions. He's having a heck of a year. He has four very talented wideouts.
"Mustafa Greene is a freshman that's come in and I think really given them a lift in the running game. Their offensive line is very, very big and strong. So they're pretty good on offense. They're averaging 404 yards of total offense.
"Defensively, I think they're playing very well also. They are very strong upfront; very solid. Their linebacking corps is good. Nate Irving is obviously the outstanding player there. Their secondary is young but playing much better than last year.
On depth on the offensive line:
Going into this year I was concerned with the depth at offensive line because last year we struggled in that area. We were forced to play a lot of young players. This year we are playing Justin Gilbert and R.J. Dill - both redshirt sophomores. Last year we were playing them as red shirt freshmen, Bennett Fulper played as a true freshmen last year.
What I was worried about was our redshirt freshmen. Justin Gilbert got hurt and I had to play Pete DeSouza, a red shirt freshmen. Saturday we lost our offensive guard, moved [Paul] Pinegar to the inside and put in Max Garcia, a true freshman. We found ourselves in a similar situation we were in a year ago. I think that the guy who is the unsung hero here is Paul Pinegar. He has the flexibility to play tackle, center and guard without any specific practice. Paul has definitely helped us get by. What I was hoping for was everyone to stay healthy and bring the DeSouza's, Pete White's and Nick Klemm's along and get them some playing time and experience allowing them to mature.
On his motivational Power Point's for the team:
During our meeting yesterday, I could see that the sense of our team is down. They didn't practice like that last night. I asked them what do we have to play for? During Saturday's press conference, I was asked how I would get the team back up to play. I know that there is enough character in our team that they will get back up and play. First of all, it's Senior Day and this is a special bunch of seniors. The leadership they provided this year helped get this to team what it is. I would love to see them go out as winners at Byrd Stadium.
We're still in contention for a lot of bowls. An 8-4 team is going to look a lot more attractive than a 7-5 team. I said that, to me, it's a feel good story. There's a possibility of us going 8-4 with a possibility of winning nine games. If we were 9-4 this year, coming from 2-10, I say that that's a pretty big accomplishment. I said that you don't deserve to be 7-5; you worked too hard to be 7-5.
On whether Pete DeSouza's recovery is on track: I think he's ahead of being on track. Pete thinks he's going to be ready for spring practice. I don't see how that's possible but they told him he wouldn't be able to put any weight on that left leg for three months and he's already got weight on the left leg. A lot of our prayers have been answered with that. If his spirit has anything to do with a speedy recovery I think he'll be ready as fast as humanly possible. Pete is a kid everybody likes. It was kind of devastating for our team when that accident occurred. When he showed up at a lunch we had before we went to Virginia, the kids got really emotional and really excited to see him back here.
On De'Onte Arnett's switch to offensive line:
Amazingly, I'm surprised how rapidly he is improving on the offensive line. Is he ready to play against the 23rd ranked team in the country? No, but he's a lot farther ahead that I expected him to be at this point in time. He knows that we may have to play him and that there is a strong chance that he will be a very good offensive lineman. I think that's been a very good move not only for De'Onte but also for us. He's a big kid, very athletic, and obviously he has some instincts otherwise he wouldn't be as far along as he is already. I think he had a very good practice last night and he's one of the guys I can really see improving in the three weeks he's been there.
Maryland Depth Chart