By Scott Haynes, College Football Senior Editor
2009 SEASON IN REVIEW: Ralph Friedgen is the only coach in ACC history to lead his team to 10 or more wins in his first three seasons at the helm.
Unfortunately, times have changed in College Park, and last year featured
Friedgen's worst season in his 10-year reign. Maryland posted a mere 2-10
ledger in 2009, including a 1-7 mark in conference play, and finished up in
the Atlantic Division cellar. Bright spots were few and far between for the
Terrapins last year, with the two wins coming against FCS foe James Madison
(38-35) and Clemson (24-21). However, the overall record did not tell the
whole tale, as Maryland simply couldn't win the tight affairs. The team closed
the season with seven consecutive losses, including four by seven points or
less. The Terps also played through a myriad of injuries, especially on the
offensive side of the football.
OFFENSE: The Terrapins struggled with offensive consistency a year ago (316.4
ypg) but some of that had to do with key injuries. A First-Team All-ACC
selection in 2008 when he rushed for more than 1,100 yards, talented tailback
Da'Rel Scott was held to a mere 424 yards last year, playing in a little less
than seven full games due to injury. To emphasize Maryland's offensive woes,
Scott's rushing total was tops on the team. Scott is back and healthy this
season and that alone should help stabilize Maryland's rushing attack. Throw
in Davin Meggett, who brings a different skill set to the ground game, and
Maryland may be a strong running team in 2010.
The passing game will now be in the hands of junior Jamarr Robinson, who
started two games in 2009 and saw time in five others.
Friedgen believes his new signal-caller is up to the challenge of being the
full time starter.
"I saw tremendous progress in him this summer. I just think he's a lot more
comfortable with his reads and his decision-making. The thing I really
noticed, though, over the course of the summer and spring, is I think he's
really become more of a leader. I've had many of the players come up to me and
say that he's very confident and is being more vocal. I think these are very
Robinson will certainly benefit from the play of junior wideout Torrey Smith
(61 receptions, 824 yards, five TDs), whose versatility earned him All-ACC
Second-Team honors as both a receiver and return specialist. The other side of
the field will be manned by senior Adrian Cannon (44 catches, 468 yards, six
TDs). The offensive line returns three of the five starters from 2009, but the
two losses are huge in left tackle Bruce Campbell and veteran center Phil
Costa. Still, there is potential up front, led by tackle R.J. Dill, who earned
All-ACC freshman honors in 2009.
DEFENSE: Much like the offense, Maryland's defense failed in terms of
consistent play and was unable to make the necessary stops to win close games
last year. The team returns just five starters from last year's group, but the
leader of the squad, All-American candidate Alex Wujciak is one of the
returnees. The 6-2, 230-pound senior is one of the top linebackers in the
entire nation, coming off a season in which he ranked eighth nationally in
tackles per game (10.92), en route to All-ACC First-Team honors.
Wujciak is very team-oriented and is chomping at the bit to get back on the
field and lead by example.
"I am just focused on coming out here and getting better each time. I'm not
worried about personal awards or accolades. I want to help my team win in any
Joining Wujciak in the LB corps will be fellow senior Adrian Moten, who ranked
second on the team in tackles in 2009 (68) and first in TFLs (9.0) and sacks
(6.0). This squad cannot rely solely on the play of its LBs however, and
leaders will need to emerge both up front and in the secondary in 2010. The
likely candidate to do so in the defensive backfield is junior CB Cameron
Chism (66 tackles, four INTs in 2009).
SPECIAL TEAMS: The Terps' greatest strength this year is probably the kicking
game. Nick Ferrara burst on the scene as a mere freshman in 2009, handling
kickoffs, field goals and punting due to injuries and picked up Second-Team
Freshman All-American honors, converting 18-of-25 field-goal attempts, with a
long of 50 yards. A healthy Travis Baltz is back as this team's punter. In an
injury-shortened season in 2009, he averaged just over 40 yards per punt. The
return game is in the capable hands of Torrey Smith, who broke his own ACC
single-season record for kickoff return yardage (1,309 yards), including two
returns for TDs.
OUTLOOK: Maryland certainly has the talent base to push towards a winning
record this season, something Friedgen desperately needs following last year's
"You're 2-10 and like I said before, not a day goes by that I don't think
about that. The biggest problem that we have to get with our players is
getting them the confidence to be able to win."
The non-conference slate provides that opportunity, with at least three
winnable games, with home dates against Navy, Morgan State and Florida
International and a road date at rival West Virginia. Piling up wins in the
ACC won't come easy however, with road tilts at Clemson, Boston College, Miami
and Virginia. Teams that come to College Park are Duke, Wake Forest, Florida
State and NC State. The Terps won just once in-conference last year, but could
push for a .500 ACC mark in 2010.