SI.com 2003 College Football Preview




SI.com's College Football Team Previews - from Athlon Sports

  Maryland Terrapins

 
The Lowdown
Coach: Ralph Friedgen (3rd year, 21-5)
2002 record: 11-3 (Beat Tennessee 30-3 in Peach Bowl)
ACC finish: T-2nd
2002 offensive stats:
Rush: 198.8 ypg
(2nd in ACC, 28th in nation)
Pass: 190.6 ypg (8th, 75th)
2002 defensive stats:
Rush: 128.6 ypg (3rd, 34th)
Pass: 210.1 ypg (3rd, 52nd)
Projected Starters
Offense (6 returning starters in bold)
WR   4   Latrez Harrison   Sr.  
WR  34  Steve Suter  Jr. 
SL  22  Rich Parson  Jr. 
LT  70  Stephon Heyer  So. 
LG   74   C.J. Brooks   Jr.  
72  Kyle Schmitt  Jr. 
RG   73   Lamar Bryant   Sr.  
RT   75   Eric Dumas   Sr.  
TE   82   Jeff Dugan   Sr.  
QB   7   Scott McBrien   Sr.  
TB  Bruce Perry  Sr. 
FB  44  Bernie Fiddler  Sr. 
Defense (9)
DE  54  Scott Smith  Sr. 
NT   96   C.J. Feldheim   Sr.  
DT   57   Randy Starks   Jr.  
LEO   49   Jamahl Cochran   Jr.  
WLB   32   Leon Joe   Sr.  
MLB  48  William Kershaw  So. 
SLB   24   Leroy Ambush   Sr.  
CB   6   Domonique Foxworth   Jr.  
CB   30   Curome Cox   Sr.  
SS   13   Dennard Wilson Sr.     
FS   10   Madieu Williams   Sr.  
Special Teams
K   46   Nick Novak   Jr.  
36  Adam Podlesh  Fr. 
KR   34   Steve Suter   Jr.  
PR   34   Steve Suter   Jr.  
2003 Schedule
Aug. 30  at Northern Illinois 
Sept. 6  at Florida State 
Sept. 13  The Citadel 
Sept. 20  West Virginia 
Sept. 27  at Eastern Michigan 
Oct. 4  Clemson 
Oct. 11  Duke 
Oct. 23  at Georgia Tech 
Nov. 1  North Carolina 
Nov. 13  Virginia 
Nov. 22  at NC State 
Nov. 29  at Wake Forest 
There have been some setbacks. But for the most part, the Ralph Friedgen era at Maryland has gone about as well as anyone could have imagined. The popular coach has guided the Terps to 21 wins in just two seasons, and he has already claimed one ACC title.

Last fall, Maryland failed to successfully defend its 2001 ACC title, but the Terps rolled to an 11-3 campaign capped off by a dominating 30-3 win over Tennessee in the Peach Bowl.

With 15 starters back, Maryland is poised for another double-digit victory season and quite possibly another conference championship.

OFFENSIVE KEYS:

Senior Scott McBrien is the first returning starting quarterback in Friedgen's brief tenure. He emerged as a threat passing and running during the latter half of last season, particularly after coaches scrapped traditional option plays in favor of a limited package out of the shotgun. With an offseason to sharpen his skills and further master Friedgen's complicated schemes, McBrien could be poised for a big season.

"Obviously, it's a real comfortable feeling from a coaching standpoint, and I think it's good for our team to know who the leader is and respect him," Friedgen said. "Scottie has learned from last year, how he started to how he ended. I think there are still areas he can get better, and I think Scott does, too."

Friedgen believes Bruce Perry is back to the form he displayed as a sophomore in 2001, when he rushed for 1,242 yards, was named ACC Offensive Player of the Year and was one of three finalists for the Doak Walker Award.

After being sidelined by abdominal, groin and shoulder injuries for much of last season, Perry participated in a full series of offseason workouts and pronounced himself "100 percent."

Perhaps the biggest issue for an offense that has set school records for single-season points scored in each of the past two seasons is up front, where center Kyle Schmitt and tackle Stephon Heyer will try to replace four-year starters Todd Wike and Matt Crawford.

DEFENSIVE KEYS:

The question on defense is simple: Can the Terrapins replace all-world middle linebacker E.J. Henderson? "That won't be easy," Friedgen said. "There are a lot of guys who want to play that position now. I keep telling them it's the player, not the position."

Leon Joe, a two-year starter at weak-side linebacker, got the first crack in spring practice. Friedgen, however, was hesitant to make the move permanent. It appears more likely that sophomore D'Qwell Jackson will move inside. Freshman Wesley Jefferson might even get a shot.

Otherwise, Maryland looks to be in excellent shape, with nine returning defensive starters, led by free safety Madieu Williams and defensive tackle Randy Starks, both of whom have big-play potential.

SPECIAL TEAMS:

Maryland's recent success was buoyed by one of the nation's best sets of specialists, all of whom were first-team All-ACC in 2002. Punter Brooks Barnard has moved on to the NFL, but kicker Nick Novak returns. Steve Suter was outstanding returning both kicks (24.8-yard average) and punts (13.8, four touchdowns). Redshirt freshman Adam Podlesh was recruited to be Barnard's successor. Now he gets his chance.

FINAL ANALYSIS:

While there are a few key concerns, all the ingredients are in place for Maryland to make a run at its second ACC title in the past three seasons. "We have some players," Friedgen said. "It's just a matter of whether we can keep our focus. Keep the 'we' in and the 'I' out. That's what I always worry about."

The schedule could be the Terps' biggest problem. Maryland hosts Virginia, but plays the other two ACC heavyweights (Florida State and N.C. State) on the road. The Terps' trip to Raleigh on Nov. 22 could determine the league champion.

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