Seeing his first live action since transferring from West Virginia and sitting out a year per NCAA rules, Maryland quarterback Scott McBrien got off to a slow start last season. But once he got rolling he guided the Terps to 10 wins in their last 11 games, throwing for 15 touchdowns and running for seven more.
Six of his top seven receivers are back, led by Jafar Williams, who averaged better than 20 yards a catch. If injury-slowed tailback Bruce Perry can return to his ACC Offensive Player of the Year form of 2001, opponents would be ill-advised to key on the passing game.
The defense returns almost intact. Key word: almost. Linebacker E.J. Henderson was the ACC Defensive Player of the Year for two years in a row, and replacing him is a lot to ask. Tackle Randy Starks, linebacker Leon Joe and cornerback Curome Cox are among the ACC's best at their respective positions.
Score galore: Under coach Ralph Friedgen, the Terps have broken the school's scoring record in back-to-back seasons.
Elite status: Maryland is one of just five schools in Division I-A to have won 10 or more games in each of the last two seasons.
Rare feat: In 2002, Maryland won 11 games for the first time since 1976 and only the second time ever.
2002 results: 11-3 (6-2 ACC)
Bowl Game: Beat Tennessee 30-3 in Peach Bowl
Returning starters: 6 offense, 9 defense, placekicker
A. 30 at Northern Illinois
S. 6 at Florida State
S. 13 The Citadel
S. 20 West Virginia
S. 27 at Eastern Michigan
O. 4 Clemson
O. 11 Duke
O. 23 at Georgia Tech
N. 1 North Carolina
N. 13 Virginia
N. 22 at North Carolina State
N. 29 at Wake Forest
Schedule Analysis: The Terps will barely have their feet wet when they travel to Tallahassee for a Sept. 6 mega-game with Florida State. Maryland has had two brilliant seasons back-to-back, but they haven't solved the Seminoles yet, losing by an average of 40 points in the last two meetings. Still, even if the Terps do not beat FSU, they can rally and win what should be a very competitive ACC race. Maryland should win its next four ACC games before an important three-game close of Virginia, at NC State and at Wake Forest that will test the Terps.
Final Word: A third straight 10-win season should be in the cards for Maryland, especially if Bruce Perry can produce like he did in 2001. A win over Florida State early, which is a decent possibility given the instability in Tallahassee, could springboard the Terps into the top 5 by mid-October. There are four contenders in the ACC, and Maryland will certainly be in the mix all year.
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