By By Jacob Ridgway
Maryland's Campus Correspondent
Is it time for other ACC schools to "Fear the Turtle" again? That time may be coming soon as Maryland is rebuilding itself into the bowl-bound teams of Friedgen's past.
Two wins a season isn't going to get the job done. Ralph Friedgen knows that, the players know it and the fans know it. In fairness, the young Terps of last season lost five games by a touchdown or less. However, this isn't 2009 again and there's reason to be fired up about college football in College Park, Md. If the Terps can make something out of their season, Maryland could find themselves in their seventh bowl games in 10 years under Friedgen.
Everything for Maryland starts with two of the most electric players in the game. On offense there is wide receiver Torrey Smith. The redshirt junior decided against going pro to come back to refine his skills. That's bad news for opposing ACC teams because Smith can do it all. He can make big plays with his feet after the catch and doesn't mind taking a hit to get the extra yardage. The reason ACC teams fear the junior receiver isn't his only hands, but also his returns. Smith holds the single-season record for most return yards in the ACC with over 1,300. If he doesn't score, he's at least going to get his team into great field position.
The other name that can spark the Terps this season is linebacker Alex Wujciak. Wujciak hits as hard as anyone in the country and was eighth in the nation last year in tackles per game with almost 11. He controls the center of the Terps defense and they need him to have a big senior campaign.
In all, Friedgen welcomes back 12 starters from last season. It is in the other nine starting positions where things get tricky for Maryland. The team played 24 freshmen a year ago, the most in Friedgen's tenure as coach. They are more experienced now, but that's still a lot of young talent. The Terrapins have capable players in all the key positions, but are deep at very few and could find themselves in a lot of trouble if injuries start to pile up early in the season.
Interestingly, the offense could undergo some changes with a new quarterback under center. The Terps could have an option package sprinkled in with the more mobile Jamarr Robinson as the signal caller. "I don't think we'll be like Navy or Georgia Tech or anybody, but I really think you could see a wrinkle in there," said receiver Torrey Smith.
On the other side of the ball, the defense and more specifically the secondary has some changes of its own it needs to make after it finished 97th in the country last year in pass defense. Ralph Friedgen has his work cut out for him in his 10th year, but he's got confidence in his young squad.
Every offense begins with its quarterback. Three-year starter Chris Turner was a one-dimensional passing threat, but he has graduated. The plan is to have Jamarr Robinson take the snaps this fall, a dual-threat option that has the strongest arm on the team. Robinson rushed for over 100 yards against Virginia Tech a year ago and threw no interceptions in 85 chances. The question mark is his accuracy. The junior signal caller completed just over 54 percent of his passes.
Right behind Robinson, Danny O'Brien is waiting to step in if called upon. O'Brien is a redshirt-freshman who won the backup position in the spring. O'Brien is a guy Friedgen hopes to work into some games this year. He possesses great arm strength and is very athletic.
Problems also arise in the offensive line. Two of Maryland's starters are former walk-ons and tackle Bruce Campbell left early for the NFL. R.J. Dill earned all-league freshmen honors at tackle, but he's only one of three starters returning on the line. This is one of the Terps' thin positions and could have real problems if injuries mount.
One position on the offense that is particularly deep for the Terps is running back. Da'Rel Scott will lead the way in his final season. Scott is a former first team All-ACC performer. During his sophomore campaign he rushed for over 1,100 yards. Last season, he played in only seven games due to a broken forearm. Scott has breakaway speed and is agile enough to get to the sidelines and find the end zone. Behind him is a guy that can really complement his speed in Davin Meggett. Meggett is a punishing rusher who runs between the tackles and fights for first downs. Young tailbacks D.J. Adams and Gary Douglas will battle for the third spot on the depth chart.
Torrey Smith sits atop of what appears to be a solid receiving corps for Maryland after leading the offense a season ago in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. Adrian Cannon had an improved season in 2009 with four trips to the end zone. Cannon should relieve some of the pressure on Smith by taking some of the defensive attention and double teams away from his fellow flanker. Ronnie Tyler was the Terps third-leading receiver. Tyler is shorter at 5'9, but is a lot like Duke's Donovan Varner in that he's illusive and has breakaway speed. Tyler could have a surprise season with the attention focused on Smith and Cannon.
Tight end is a position Maryland hopes to get more production from this season. Devonte Campbell is a converted fullback who is the early favorite to start. Sophomore Matt Furstenburg will also battle for time at tight end.
Look no further than linebacker to find the key to Maryland's defense. The Terps have one of the best linebacking crews in the ACC. The team returns every starter from a year ago and has solid depth at the position. Adrian Moten was the captain of the defense last year and he'll certainly help stop the running game. Demetrius Hartsfield also returns. In Maryland's win over Clemson, he recorded double-digit tackles and forced a fumble. To top off the linebacker corps, Alex Wujciak, a first-team All-ACC selection, will lead this defensive unit into every game. He recorded 131 tackles in his junior season.
The secondary is where the concern lies for the Terrapins with three of four starters gone from a year ago. The defensive backs really need to focus on limiting big plays for Maryland to stay in football games. Cornerback Cameron Chism had four takeaways as a sophomore and eyes an even better junior campaign. Safety Kenny Tate started less than a handful of times last year, but can really help stop quarterbacks from opening up the secondary.
A.J. Francis anchors a defensive line in which he is the only returning starter. However, Francis is a mountain of a man at 6'4" and almost 300 lbs. He was an honorable mention freshman All-American in 2009 and could have a huge sophomore season. Look for Francis to get into the backfield a lot this year and wreck havoc on opposing offensive lines. Former linebackers Bradley Johnson and Marcus Whitfield were rotated this spring to defensive end because of their speed. Friedgen said he feels his defensive line wasn't quick enough to the ball last year and these two should really help bolster that need.
Special teams are a definite strength for this team and could determine the outcome in tight games. Three of these guys have earned postseason accolades in their careers. Kicker Nick Ferrara was a freshman All-American in 2009 largely because he converted on 70 percent of his field goal attempts of 40 yards or more. Punter Travis Baltz is an All-ACC selection and averages over 40 yards per punt. Torrey Smith also returns as a kick returner and has shattered the Maryland kickoff return yardage record each of the past two seasons.
|Head Coach Ralph Friedgen|
Beginning his 10th season as Maryland's
Head Coach, Ralph Friedgen holds the distinction
of being the first coach in Atlantic Coast
Conference history to lead a team to three straight
seasons of 10 wins or more in his first
three seasons as a head coach at the Division I
Named the consensus national Coach
of the Year in 2001 after leading Maryland to
its first ACC title since 1985, Friedgen has developed a reputation as one
of the top coaches in the game.
Friedgen continues to build a new level of pride
at his alma mater, guiding the Terps to a 66-46 record and six bowl appearances
- including four decisive wins - in his nine seasons as a collegiate
Last year, with an inexperienced and injury-riddled team, the
Terrapins finished 2-10, but seven of the 10 defeats were by 11 or fewer
points and five by seven or fewer points. Friedgen's 2008 Terrapins posted
an 8-5 record including wins over four nationally-ranked teams. In 2007,
Friedgen's Terps upset a pair of Top Ten teams in defeating 10th-ranked
Rutgers and 8th-ranked Boston College en route to a second straight bowl
his first season as the Terps' grid boss, Maryland won its first seven games
and eventually halted Florida State's reign as perennial ACC Champion,
earning the league's automatic berth in the Bowl Championship Series.
2002, the Terps made their way back to a major bowl game, winning 10 of
their last 11 games and finishing in a tie for second in the ACC. The 2003
campaign provided a bit of déjà vu for Friedgen and the Terrapins as they
again started 1-2, and again ran off 10 wins in their final 11 games to earn
a second New Year's bowl bid.
In 2006, the Terrapins posted a nine-win
campaign--the fourth time Friedgen's Maryland teams have won at least
nine games--topped off by a decisive 24-7 over Purdue in the Champs Sports
In addition to amassing tremendous team success, Friedgen has
also helped develop some of the league's most talented athletes, including
Jim Tatum Award recipient Nick Novak, who became the ACC's all-time
leading scorer in 2004.
Prior to returning to his alma mater, Friedgen
was a long-time successful assistant coach at Georgia Tech, where he was
credited with overseeing one of the nation's most potent offensive attacks.
Named the winner of the Frank Broyles Award as the top assistant coach in
the country in 1999 while at Tech, Friedgen brought 32 years of assistant
coaching experience - including 21 seasons as an offensive coordinator
either in college or the NFL - with him in his return to College Park.
||Navy (ESPN, 4:00)
||Morgan State (ESPN3.com, 6:00 p.m.)
||at West Virginia (ESPNU, Noon)
||at Boston College
|2010 Preseason Information|
2009 In Review
With a young team beset by injury and suffering 7 losses by 11
or fewer points, Head Coach Ralph Friedgen Terrapins struggled
to a 2-10 overall record and 1-7 in the ACC...Key among
the losses during the season was that of TB Da'Rel Scott, a
first-team All-ACC selection who rushed for 1,133 yards in
2008, but was held to just 425 yards in less than seven full
games due to injury in 2009, but Scott was joined on the injury
list by 2008 All-ACC P Travis Baltz, top CB Nolan Carroll
and starting QB Chris Turner, who missed two late-season
contests...There were bright spots for the Terps, though, including
LB Alex Wujciak, who earned first-team All-ACC
honors, finishing 2nd in the league and 8th nationally with 131
tackles, averaging 10.92 per game...WR-KR Torrey Smith
was named second-team All-ACC as both a receiver (61 receptions,
2nd in ACC), and as a specialist, where he broke his
own ACC record for kickoff return yardage in a single season
with 1,309 yards and 2 TDs...Rookie PK/P Nick Ferrara was
named a first-team Freshman All-America by the FWAA after
making 18 of 25 field goal attempts...Turner finished his career
as only the third Terrapin to throw for over 6,000 yards in his
career, passing for 6,543 career yards, good enough for 2nd
place at Maryland and 23rd place on the ACC's career list...
Smith ranked 6th nationally in all-purpose yardage, averaging
182.67 per game.
The Terrapins lose 10 starters from last year's team--four on
offense and six on defense... Offensively, the loss of QB Chris
Turner will be the toughest to replace, as he completed 59.4
percent of his passes for 2,069 yards and 10 TDs...Also departing
are T Bruce Campbell, who opted for early entry into the
NFL, C Phil Costa, who had 30 career starts and FB Cory
Jackson, an Honorable Mention All-America by Pro Football
Weekly...Defensively, Maryland sees three of its front four
depart in DE Jared Harrell, DT Travis Ivey and AN Deege
Galt, as well as three starters in the secondary in CB Anthony
Wiseman and safeties Jamari McCollough and Terrell Skinner.
Maryland also loses CB Nolan Carroll, who missed all
but two 2009 games with an injury.
The Terrapins outlook should be brighter in 2010 as Friedgen
welcomes back 53 returning lettermen--the second highest
total in the ACC--including seven starters on offense and five
on defense...TB Da'Rel Scott returns to his starting position
where he has run for 1,693 yards, a 5.5 per-carry average and
12 TDs in his career...Junior TB Davin Meggett, who has run
for 795 yards over the past two years as Scott's backup, is also
available to provide a solid one-two punch...Rising junior QB
Jamarr Robinson, who started two games last year in Turner's
absence and threw for 459 yards and ran for 229 more, and
redshirt freshman QB Danny O'Brien emerged from spring
as the likely contenders to start at QB...Three starting members
of the offensive line return in T Paul Pinegar, G Andrew
Gonnella and T R.J. Dill...TE Devonte Campbell also is back
after starting the final four games a year ago...Maryland will
field an experienced and talented receiver corps led by starters
WR Torrey Smith and WR Adrian Cannon (44 catches)
which features nine of the top 10 receivers from a year ago...
PK Ferrera provides a scoring threat for the Terrapins as the
freshman made 7 of 10 FGs from 40 or more yards...while
Smith is also a threat in the kicking game, having returned
three kickoffs over the past two seasons for TDs and needs
just 291 yards to set a new ACC career standard... Defensively,
Maryland returns 23 lettermen and five starters including their
entire linebacker crew led by Wujciak, who also made big plays
in the passing game, returning two interceptions for 152 yards
and a TD, but also including Adrian Moten (the Terps sack
leader with 6) and Demetrius Hartsfield...Only one starter returns
to the defensive line, in NT A.J. Francis but sophomore
DT Joe Vellano impressed in spring practice and is joined by
DE Derek Drummond, NT Zach Kerr, AN Justin Anderson
and Massengo Kabongo...Only one starter returns to the secondary
in CB Cameron Chism (4 interceptions), but Maryland
played a lot of faces last year including safeties Kenny Tate
and Antwine Perez...The return of P Travis Baltz should help
the defense as well...Baltz has a career average of 40.9 on 157
punts, placing 45 of those inside his opponent's 20-yard line.
Numbers and Notes
3 - The number of Terrapins selected to the Atlantic
Coast Conference All-Academic Team including P Travis
Baltz, DT A.J. Francis and T Paul Pinegar. Baltz
made his third straight appearance on the team
6 - Six teams on Maryland's 2010 schedule participated
in bowl games in 2009 including West Virginia (Konica
Minolta Gator Bowl), Florida State (Konica Minolta Gator),
Navy (Texas), Clemson (Gaylord Hotels Music City),
Miami (Champs Sports) and Boston College (Emerald).
7 - The number of losses for Maryland in 2009 that were
by 11 or fewer points. The Terps also lost three games by
a total of six points dropping close decisions to Middle
Tennessee (1), Florida State (3) and Boston College (2).
23 - Maryland's five Divisional games against Boston
College, Clemson, Florida State, NC State and Wake
Forest were decided by a total of 23 points, or an average
of just 4.6 points per game.
129 - The number of yards rising junior QB Jamarr
Robinson ran for against Virginia Tech, only Roy Helu
of Nebraska (169) and Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingram
of Alabama (150) ran for more against the Hokies.
Robinson actually ran for 165 yards before losses in pass
sacks were deducted.
264 - Maryland senior LB Alex Wujciak enters the
2010 season as the leading active career tackler in the Atlantic
Coast Conference having made 264 career tackles.
Wujciak has been named to the pre-season watch lists for
the Lombardi and Nagurski Awards.
1309 - Maryland WR Torrey Smith broke his own ACC
single-season record for kickoff return yardage this year,
returning 51 kickoffs 1,309 yards, a 25.7 average, and
taking two of them, an 81-yarder against James Madison
and an 82-yarder versus NC State for touchdowns. Smith
set a Maryland single season record for all-purpose yardage
with 2,192 yards in 2009.
1693-The number of career rushing yards for TB
Da'Rel Scott. Despite missing half of the 2009 season to
injury, Scott enters this fall fifth on the ACC career active
rushers list. He is one of five returning 1,000 yard rushers
for the ACC this year