COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Maryland closes out its 2012 campaign when it visits North Carolina this Saturday at 3 p.m. for the first meeting between the schools since 2008. The Terps have won five of the last six in the series, though the Tar Heels hold a 36-21-1 all-time edge, including a 20-14-1 advantage in Chapel Hill.
• The Terps have lost five straight after a rash of injuries has taken its toll on both sides of the ball. Ten Terrapins have been lost to season-ending injuries, all of them potential starters. Of the 10 starters lost, four are quarterbacks, leaving freshman Shawn Petty, a former linebacker, as the team’s starter. Maryland has been without leading rusher Wes Brown and leading tackler Demetrius Hartsfieldthe past two weeks, both of whom suffered season-ending injuries. Combined with Perry Hills’ season-ending injury in October, that meant the Terps were without their leading passer (Hills), rusher (Brown) and tackler (Hartsfield) the last three games of the year.
• Hartsfield, who suffered a torn ACL during the Georgia Tech game, had been the leader of a defense that ranked in the top-10 nationally for the first eight games of the season. One of four team captains, Hartsfield has remained Maryland’s leading tackler and ranks 15th in school history with 338 in his career.
• The toughest part of Maryland’s schedule has coincided with Maryland’s ills. The Terps faced the top four offenses in the Atlantic Coast Conference in November – Clemson ranks first, Florida State second, North Carolina third and Georgia Tech fourth. Still, the Terps possess a top 15 defense. Maryland ranks 15th nationally in total defense (322.5 ypg), 20th in rushing defense (123.9 ypg) and 27th in passing defense (198.6 ypg). In 11 games, Maryland has held its opponent under 100 rushing yards five times, and under 55 yards four times.
• Maryland has an experienced front seven highlighted by senior defensive linemen Joe Vellano and A.J. Francis, and senior linebackers Kenneth Tate and Darin Drakeford. Maryland’s 6.6 tackles for loss per game rank 29th in the FBS and its 2.55 sacks per game are tied for 25th. Vellano, who has played through an ankle injury for much of the year, is fourth in the ACC and is tied for 30th nationally with 1.27 tackles for loss per game. Vellano and Drakeford are tied for fifth in the conference with 6.0 sacks, and Cole Farrand has also provided solid play, with his 71 tackles ranking second on the team behind the injured Hartsfield. Against Florida State, Tate became the first Terrapin to record 3.0 sacks in a game since Shawne Merriman on Nov. 2, 2002.
• Petty took the reins at QB against Georgia Tech and has started the past three games. Petty starred on both sides of the ball and was an All-Met selection at Eleanor Roosevelt HS in Greenbelt, Md. As a quarterback, he threw for 1,300 yards and 15 TDs, and ran for 550 yards and 10 TDs. In his two games, Petty has completed 23 of 49 passes for 292 yards, five touchdowns and one interception. Against Florida State, Petty hit senior wide receiver Kevin Dorsey for a pair of scores as Dorsey surpassed 1,000 career receiving yards.
• Against Clemson, Brandon Ross took over starting duties at running back for the injured Brown and responded with the best game of his young career. Ross ran 16 times for 100 yards, an average of 6.25 yards per carry, and had a 44-yard run which is the longest by a Terrapin this season.
• Wide receiver Stefon Diggs has been Maryland’s most dynamic playmaker this season. His 766 receiving yards rank 10th on Maryland’s single-season list, while his 1,648 all-purpose yards rank fifth. Against Virginia, the freshman returned the game’s opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown and vs. Boston College he had a career-high 11 catches for 152 yards and a touchdown. He followed that up with a pair of touchdown catches against Georgia Tech and over his last seven games is averaging 88.6 receiving yards per game. Diggs has earned ACC weekly honors four times this season: he received Rookie of the Week honors against West Virginia, Wake Forest and Boston College; and Specialist of the Week honors against Virginia.
• Maryland is one of seven schools to have started three different players at quarterback this season (also Southern Miss – 4; and Colorado State, Kentucky, Minnesota, Tulane and Utah – 3).
• The combination of a talented 2012 recruiting class and a number of injuries has led Maryland to play 15 true freshmen this season. That’s tied for the third most in the FBS, behind only Texas and TCU who have each played 16.
• The quarterback position has been hit hardest by injuries, leaving the Terps in what seems to be uncharted territory. Four Maryland QBs have suffered season-ending injuries this year: C.J. Brown was lost in August with a torn ACL; Perry Hills was lost in the NC State game with a torn ACL; Devin Burns was lost after replacing Hills in the NC State game with a Lisfranc (foot); and Caleb Rowe was lost for the year after suffering a torn ACL in the Boston College game. An inquiry among FBS media relations contacts turned up no results of any school having a similar injury situation at quarterback this season or in the past.
• Perry Hills, Caleb Rowe and Shawn Petty have all started at QB this season. It’s been nearly 30 years since Maryland last started three quarterbacks in one season. The last time was 1973, when Ben Kinard started six games, Bob Avellini started three games and Al Neville started two games.
• Maryland has lost 10 players to season-ending injuries this year, four of which are quarterbacks. QB C.J. Brown (knee), WRKerry Boykins (hip), RB Wes Brown, QB Devin Burns (foot), PK/P Nick Ferrara (hip), LB Demetrius Hartsfield (knee), QB Perry Hills (knee), WR Marcus Leak (toe), DL Andre Monroe (knee) and QB Caleb Rowe (knee) have all been lost for the year.
• Stefon Diggs has earned ACC Player of the Week honors four times this year. Diggs won Rookie of the Week for his play against West Virginia (9/22), Wake Forest (10/6) and Boston College (10/27), and Specialist of the Week against Virginia (10/13).
• Diggs ranks fifth in the conference and first among freshmen with 76.6 receiving yards per game. Diggs, who has 46 catches for 766 yards, already ranks 10th on Maryland’s single-season receiving yards list (see list page 6).
• 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).
• Fourteen players saw their first career action for Maryland against William & Mary, and 27 players have seen their first career action for Maryland at some point this season (15 true freshmen, eight redshirt freshmen, one sophomore, two juniors, one senior).
• The Terps are holding opponents to 3.34 yards per carry, which is ranks 14th nationally. Of the opponents’ 408 rushing attempts this season, 246 (60.3%) 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; 18 of 26 vs. NC State; 21 of 27 vs. Boston College; 18 of 56 vs. Georgia Tech; 26 of 42 vs. Clemson; 16 of 51 vs. Florida State).
• The Terps have done a good job controlling the clock. In 11 games, Maryland has had the ball for an average of 31:10 to 28:50 for the opponent. That’s a major upgrade compared to 2011, when Maryland averaged just 25:16 a game to 34:44 for the opponent.
Maryland-North Carolina Series History
• Saturday’s game will mark the 70th meeting between the Terrapins and Tar Heels. North Carolina owns a 36-32-1 edge in the all-time series. The two schools first met back in 1920 when Maryland blanked Carolina 13-0. Maryland is 14-20-1 against North Carolina in games played in Chapel Hill.
• The teams last met in 2008 in College Park, a 17-15 Maryland victory. The Terps have won five of the last six in the series.
• The Tar Heels have won four of the last six meetings in Chapel Hill. The last meeting in Chapel Hill was in 2007, a 16-13 North Carolina victory.