Previewing Maryland

Led by a defense that ranks as one of the nation's best, Maryland is 2-0 in the ACC for the first time since 2001. The Terps, will look to improve to 3-0 in the league for just the second time since winning three straight ACC titles from 1983-85.

Maryland Depth Chart

MARYLAND 2012 TWO-DEEP DEPTH CHART

Randy Edsall Quotables

Opening Statement:
"We've got a tough challenge coming up Saturday against North Carolina State here for Homecoming. You see a team there who has a quarterback Mike Glennon who's playing very well for them. They have a big offensive line. They are a team that is running the ball well and throwing well with good skill athletes.

"We are going to have our hands full defensively and again a big aggressive pressure defense we seem to face every week and I think we are getting better at that. Our guys will be ready to get back out there today and we'll see how some of these guys perform who got nicked up last week and hopefully they'll all be ready to play.

"One thing that is really interesting and what stood out to me is when you look at Perry Hills in the fourth quarter. He's 24 of 35 for 390 yards and two touchdowns. So when the game is on the line he is performing at his best and again, very pleased about that.

"Also we have very high expectations about what we want to accomplish and I know for us to continue to get better and move forward we have to eliminate a lot of those explosive plays against us. They've been playing hard. I just thought last week for a little bit that we weren't as sharp as we needed to be. It's something I know that will get cleaned up this week. Our guys have been playing hard and competing. We had two opportunities that I thought we really had to put the game away. Those are things as we continue to move forward and head into the second half of the season we need to get better at. Again, one thing is we are overcoming some of those things because of how hard we are playing and the effort we are giving for 60 minutes."

On developing a knockout punch:
"I just think it is execution. If we just throw and catch the ball, the plays are there. I think it all comes down to focus and concentration. You might lose focus for a little bit and you miss those explosive plays."

On where becoming bowl eligible ranks in his goals for the season:
"I haven't addressed that with our team at all. We have our goals that we have each and every year. The prizes that you have when you play this game are, first, winning your conference, and then if you win enough games, you get to a bowl. And those are things that you hope for each and every year. But to me, you can't look at the big picture until you address the small things first. You win a game, you put it in the bank, and you gain interest. We have four wins, but four wins aren't enough to accomplish what we want to accomplish. But all we need to focus on now is NC State and this weekend."

On the urgency of improving the running game to keep winning:
"We know that have to continue to work on it and improve. We can't do any more than what we are doing in terms of practice time. When it comes down to running the football, to me it is very basic. It's coming off the line of scrimmage, it's the offensive lineman blocking the guy against him until the whistle blows, and the running back getting the ball. Maybe we are going to be a team that has to throw the ball to set up a run. But we do have to run the football and we won't give up on it."

On looking at last year's game vs. NC State:
"We look at it as a coaching staff, but there is not that much you can get from a year ago. This team is a different team, so we focus on what this team can do. You can go back and you can see how things were a year ago, but my focus is what NC State is doing this year. It's not always good to look in the past. We need to focus on moving forward and hopefully getting a win this weekend."

On what makes NC State quarterback Mike Glennon special:
"He's your true, pro-style pocket passer. He's tall, so he can see over the line of scrimmage. He has a good arm and can make all of the throws. They're going to stretch you vertically and horizontally. And he has a pretty good release. He's a very well rounded player with experience.

"I think that when you look at him from a pro-prospect, he's probably the best guy that we face all year long, no disrespect to Geno Smith."

On taking away positives from the offensive line's performance against Virginia:
"I think that there were a couple of guys on Virginia's front four that played better than we saw on film and made some things happen. But sometimes, people are going to try to take stuff away. You don't want them to take away as much as they did but that happens in the game of football. You find a way to make plays in other areas to overcome those deficiencies that you have in one particular phase. I thought that the guys up front held in there pretty well in terms of doing things that we needed to do. And we still ended up going down and scoring some points in the second half. It is just a consistency situation. With the offensive line when you have young guys rotating in and out, you don't get that kind of consistency that you need. I think that the offensive line needs to move forward and get better so we will keep drilling them as coaches and they will keep working on the practice field."

On what he saw from NC State in its victory over Florida State:
"I saw them come back and beat Florida State. They played very hard and shut Florida State out. They made some plays, and blocked a punt and played very physically.

"I have known Tom O'Brien for years and Tom is a good football coach. His teams are always teams who are very hard-nosed and physical and they will be very fundamentally sound. You are in for a street fight and a physical game for 60 minutes. That is what you are going to get and that is what Florida State got. They never backed down, they gave themselves a shot to win at the end, and they capitalized."

On whether NC State's victory over Florida State got the attention of Maryland players:
"We didn't start focusing on NC State until Sunday. Our players are just kids, so they do focus on what is going on, so they got a chance to watch those things. I am sure they have our attention. However, if we want to be the kind of team that we want to be, it should not take someone beating somebody else to get us motivated.

"That is not what I am looking for with this program. I am looking for us to be excited and motivated to play football regardless of who the opponent is. Our goal is play to the best of our abilities, play hard, and execute our game plan."

On how to attack NC State defensive back David Amerson:
"Hopefully he will get hurt and won't play. I'm just kidding, but all jokes aside, he is a good football player. He is a very good corner. It comes down to our coaches and receivers to look at all of his tendencies. But we are not trying to beat one guy, we are trying to beat 11 guys. He is a very good football player and we have a lot of respect and admiration for how he plays and he will be one of the best we will face all year, but we do have to worry about everyone, and not just him."

On if he is happy with the production of the freshmen:
"It is hard to sit here and say that I am happy. We are 4-2 and we want to be 6-0, especially when you look at some of our mistakes. However, I am happy with how we are progressing. They are nowhere near where they can be and where they will be as they go on in their careers here at Maryland.

"With freshmen you will still have those moments where you scratch your head. But the thing that has been the most impressive to me with all of these young guys is their competitive nature and the leadership. You do not see them get down. They are able to, if something bad goes wrong, they can shake it off. That is tough for young kids, to let things go. But these guys can make a mistake and go out and make up for it. Look at Perry [Hills]. Even with all of his mistakes, when the game is on the line, look what happens. Look at Stefon [Diggs] and look at Anthony Nixon. Anthony Nixon got his second start and got a pick very early in the game to set up a score for us. They are coachable, they listen, and when something goes wrong, they can just move forward."

On A.J. Francis's progression on and off the field:
"With A.J. Francis, I see a guy who has really bought into what we want and is taking the lessons he is taught by Coach Gattuso and working on those things. I see a guy who has worked a lot harder and has gotten himself in really good shape. He has a great sense of humor and is very charismatic, but the attitude that he has this year is so different and is so much better.

"A.J., right now, is playing well and he needs to continue to play well for us to be successful. At first, I think we did not see eye-to-eye on everything, but he understood there was going to be change. There was change and he embraced it and I think he sees the benefits of what we are doing and how it has advanced him and his game. I give him a lot of credit, and its big for us to have a guy like A.J. step up and play the way that he has played and to be the kind of leader he has been. We just need him to keep getting better and I think he can take his game to an even higher level than it is right now."

Maryland Game Notes

QUICK HITTERS
• Stefon Diggs has earned ACC Player of the Week honors in three straight games, and a Terp has captured Linebacker of the Week honors in two straight games. Diggs won Rookie of the Week for his play against West Virginia (9/22) and Wake Forest (10/6) and Specialist of the Week against Virginia (10/13). Demetrius Hartsfield earned Linebacker of the Week for his play against Wake Forest, while Darin Drakeford received the award against Virginia.

• For the first time since 1999, Maryland held its opponent under 300 yards of total offense in four of the season's first five games. Only No. 17 West Virginia exceeded the 300 mark against the Terrapins (363). In the sixth game of the season, Virginia also broke the 300 mark (386).

• Diggs ranks eighth in the conference and first among freshmen with 75.5 receiving yards per game. Diggs, who has 21 catches for 453 yards, is averaging 21.6 yards per catch. That ranks second among ACC receivers and sixth among the top-100 receivers (yards per game) nationally.

• Diggs is the only Maryland freshman to record back-to-back 100-yard receiving games (vs. West Virginia and Wake Forest) since at least 1985, the earliest game-by-game statistics were recorded at the school.

• Maryland allowed Wake Forest to complete just 32.4 percent of its passes (13 of 38). That is the lowest percentage by an opponent with at least 30 passing attempts since Duke went 13 of 42 (30.9%) on Nov. 14, 1998.

• Joe Vellano's father, Paul Vellano, was inducted into the Maryland Athletics Hall of Fame on Oct. 5. The elder Vellano was a first team All-American in 1973, while Joe was a second team All-American in 2011. The father-son combo represent one of four known father-son All-America combos to attend the same FBS school (also Lee and Travis McGriff at Florida; Kevin and Drew Butler at Georgia; Archie and Eli Manning at Ole Miss).

• Thirteen players have made their first career starts at some point this season. In the season opener against William & Mary, quarterback Perry Hills, running back Albert Reid, safety Sean Davis, defensive back Jeremiah Johnson, linebacker Cole Farrand, nose tackle Darius Kilgo and offensive lineman Nick Klemm debuted. Against Connecticut, wide receiver Stefon Diggs made his first career start; defensive back Isaac Goins and running back Brandon Ross made their starting debuts at West Virginia. Defensive back Anthony Nixon and offensive linemen Mike Madaras and Andrew Zeller made their first starts vs. Wake Forest.

• Fourteen players saw their first career action for Maryland against William & Mary, and 22 players have seen their first career action for Maryland at some point this season (12 true freshmen, seven redshirt freshmen, two juniors, one senior).

• Maryland's defense allowed just 682 total yards to opponents through its first three games (William & Mary - 229, Temple - 230, Connecticut - 223). That marks its best defensive performance in a three-game span since 2004, when it held The Citadel (137), West Virginia (156) and Eastern Michigan (275) to a total of 568.

• West Virginia came into its game with Maryland averaging 612 yards of total offense and 55.5 points per game. The Terps held the Mountaineers well below those averages, surrendering 363 yards and 31 points, seven of which came on a fumble return for a TD by the WVU defense.

• The Terps surrendered just 45 yards to Wake Forest in the second half, including just four in the fourth quarter. Maryland has been at its best in the second half all year, surrendering just 133.3 yards on average.

• The Terps are holding opponents to 2.65 yards per carry, which ranks seventh nationally. Of the opponents' 216 rushing attempts this season, 147 (68.1%) have been for three yards or less (28 of 41 vs. William & Mary; 28 of 39 vs. Temple; 25 of 40 vs. Connecticut; 20 of 25 vs. West Virginia; 21 of 29 vs. Wake Forest; 25 of 42 vs. Virginia).

• Demetrius Hartsfield leads the team with 51 tackles and is tied for second with three sacks. He's also had a hand in three turnovers, also a team high (one interception, two fumble recoveries).

FINISHING STRONG
• Maryland has been able to pull out victories this season in large part by outplaying opponents in the fourth quarter. Last year, opponents outscored the Terrapins 117-92 in the fourth quarter. This season through six games, Maryland has come ahead 51-31 in the final 15 minutes.

• Despite struggles in the run game, Maryland has been able to outgain opponents in total offense by 106 yards in the fourth quarter. Sophomore running back Justus Picket has run for three touchdowns in the fourth quarter of three different games. All three games were victories for the Terrapins. The Terrapin defense has surrendered an average of just 11.7 rushing yards in the fourth quarter.

• Maryland has been able to hold onto the ball for over ten minutes longer than opponents this season in the fourth quarter, also helping to secure wins.

MIX OF YOUTH & EXPERIENCE AT THE SKILL POSITIONS...
• Freshman Stefon Diggs and sophomore Marcus Leak have been the biggest playmakers in the receiving corps through six games. Diggs has a team-high 21 catches for 453 yards, while Leak has 19 receptions for 299 yards. Diggs ranks first in the ACC in receiving yards per game (75.5) among freshmen and fifth nationally. The freshman also ranks second in the ACC with 21.6 yards per catch.

• The Terps have experience at receiver as well with seniors Kevin Dorsey and Kerry Boykins. Dorsey has eight catches for 117 yards and caught his first touchdown of the season against Wake Forest, a 33-yarder. Dorsey is first on Maryland's active career receptions (71) and receiving yards (894) lists, while Boykins is second with 57 receptions and third with 669 yards.

• The running back position is represented by all underclassmen with sophomore Justus Pickett and true freshmen Wes Brown and Albert Reid. Redshirt freshman Brandon Ross saw his first game action against West Virginia after missing the first three games with a hamstring injury.

Pickett was the workhorse against Temple, carrying the ball a career-high 21 times for 69 yards and he owns the team lead with three rushing touchdowns. Brown has shown the ability to break runs - his 21-yard run against the Owls is the longest rush by a Terp so far this year, and he had a 19-yard touchdown run against Connecticut.

Brown had seven carries for 50 yards against Temple, an average of 7.1 yards per carry. He had 14 carries for 74 yards against Connecticut's No. 1 ranked rushing defense and on the season is averaging 4.5 yards per carry.

SECONDARY ROLES...
• Maryland ranks 18th nationally in passing defense, having allowed just 183.2 passing yards per game. Opponents have completed just 89 of 178 passes (50.0 percent) and thrown just nine touchdowns.

• Dexter McDougle, who is in his second season as a starting cornerback, is third on the team with 33 tackles and second with 26 unassisted stops. He's joined by freshman Jeremiah Johnson, who saw most of his time on special teams in 2011. Johnson has 3.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble this year. He also has a team-high six pass breakups, four of which came against Wake Forest. That's tied for the most in a game by any ACC player this year (also Ross Cockrell, Duke).

• Against Wake Forest, the secondary had perhaps its best game yet, holding the Demon Deacons to a .342 completion percentage and 170 yards. The Terps combined for 11 pass breakups, led by Johnson's four.

• Senior safety Eric Franklin is the most veteran player in the secondary, having played in 34 career games. He has 25 tackles and three pass breakups this year. Matt Robinson, expected to be a major contributor this season, has only played in two games due to injuries - he missed the first two games with a shoulder injury and the last two with a groin injury. In his absence, freshmen Sean Davis and Anthony Nixon have filled in ably. Nixon got a game ball for his play against Wake Forest and made his first career interception against Virginia.


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