COLLEGE PARK, MD. – After a momentum-building win at Temple last weekend, the Maryland football team returns home to face Connecticut in Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium. It will be the first time head coach Randy Edsall coaches against his former school (the Terps will make a return trip to Connecticut in 2013) and just the second time in history the football programs have met, with the only other meeting coming in 1942, a 34-0 Maryland win.
• The youthful Terps showed improvement from week one to week two in dispatching of Temple 36-27. Maryland played 12 true freshmen in the season opener, the most for a Maryland team in at least 15 years, and seven players made their first career starts in the season opener. Quarterback Perry Hills received ACC Rookie of the Week honors for his play against the Owls.
• Defense has set the tone for a young but talented Maryland team in the first two games of the season. The Terps have been very tough against the run with an experienced front seven highlighted by senior defensive linemen Joe Vellano and A.J. Francis, and senior linebacker Demetrius Hartsfield. Those three have played a big role in holding opponents to an average of just 1.95 yards per rush, which ranks 10th nationally. It’s also been a disruptive defense – Maryland’s seven sacks tie for 13th in the FBS and its 17 tackles for loss are tied for 20th. Overall, the Terps are allowing just 229.5 yards per game, which ranks ninth nationally.
• Maryland has also had a knack for forcing timely turnovers in the first two games. In the closing moments of the 7-6 win over William & Mary in week one, cornerback Jeremiah Johnson forced a fumble on a sack that Hartsfield recovered to seal the game. In week two vs. Temple, the defense forced fumbles on the Owls’ first two possessions of the game and Hartsfield again helped seal the win by intercepting a tipped pass with 2:05 remaining to preserve the 36-27 victory.
• The biggest area of improvement for the Terps from week one to week two came with the offense, which is being directed by Hills, a true freshman. Hills, who became the first freshman to start a season opener for Maryland since Calvin McCall in 1999, had an excellent outing against Temple. The Pittsburgh, Pa., native went 11 of 21 for 190 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for a touchdown. He also made several momentum-changing plays on third down: he ran for an 11-yard TD on third-and-goal after fumbling the snap; he hit Marcus Leak for a 39-yard gain on third-and-17 in the third quarter; and finally, hooked up with Stefon Diggs down the sideline for 38 yards on a third-and-11 with under 4:00 left and Maryland clinging to a 29-27 lead. Hills was named ACC Rookie of the Week for his play against the Owls.
• Diggs has been Maryland’s most electric player with his contributions on offense and in the return game. The true freshman leads the team with 218 all-purpose yards, with 135 of those coming against Temple last week. He’s done it in a variety of ways, totaling 89 yards on receptions, 84 on punt returns, 25 on kickoff returns and 20 on rushes. Additionally, his 12.82 yards per touch ranks sixth in the nation among freshmen who are averaging at least 108 all-purpose yards per game.
• Justus Pickett has worked his way into the feature role at running back. After scoring what proved to be the game-winning touchdown in week one against William & Mary, Pickett saw his role increase in week two. He carried the ball a career-high 21 times for 69 yards against Temple and seemed to get stronger as the game went on. In the fourth quarter alone, Pickett rushed seven times for 36 yards, including a bulldozing seven-yard touchdown run with 2:51 remaining that put the game out of reach. Beyond Pickett, the Terps have plenty of depth in freshmen Wes Brown and Albert Reid. Redshirt freshman Brandon Ross, who had been named the starter in the preseason, missed the first two games with an injury.
• Maryland allowed William & Mary to gain just 229 yards of total offense and held Temple to 230 yards. That marks its best defensive performance in a two-game span since holding Villanova to 187 yards and FIU to 163 yards in the first two games of the 2007 season.
• Maryland won its first two games despite committing more turnovers than its opponent in each contest. All eight of the Terrapins turnovers (three interceptions, five fumbles) have come from freshmen.
• The Terps have done a good job controlling the clock. In two games, Maryland has had the ball for an average of 31:23 to 28:38 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.
• Seven players made their first career starts in the season opener against William & Mary: quarterback Perry Hills, running back Albert Reid, safety Sean Davis, defensive back Jeremiah Johnson, linebacker Cole Farrand, nose tackle Darius Kilgoand offensive lineman Nick Klemm.
• In addition to the seven first-time starters, 14 players saw their first action against William & Mary. And of the 44 players that saw time against the Tribe, 25 of them were underclassmen.
• Maryland has 14 true freshmen listed on its two-deep (excluding return men), which is the third most in the FBS (Colorado – 16, Texas – 15).
• The Terps are holding opponents to 1.95 yards per carry, which ranks 10th nationally. Of the opponents 80 rushing attempts this season, 56 have been for three yards or less (28 of 41 vs. William & Mary; 28 of 39 vs. Temple).
• Demetrius Hartsfield recorded a double-digit tackle game against William & Mary by finishing with 13. Hartsfield had seven double-digit efforts in nine games last season. Hartsfield also had a fumble recovery with 1:11 left that sealed the win.
• Head coach Randy Edsall handed out game balls for the win over Temple. Sal Conaboy got the game ball for offense,Demetrius Hartsfield for defense and A.J. Francis for special teams.
• The five Maryland players who received 2011 postseason recognition returned to the squad this year – DL Keith Bowers(freshman All-ACC), LB Lorne Goree (freshman All-ACC), LB Demetrius Hartsfield (honorable mention All-ACC), DL Andre Monroe (freshman All-American) and DL Joe Vellano (second team All-American; first team All-ACC).
• Maryland was hit hard by injuries in the preseason. Thirteen players missed the season opener due to various injuries and ailments, and 14 were out against Temple. Seven of those were potential starters on offense and defense: defensive linemanAndre Monroe; defensive backs A.J. Hendy and Matt Robinson; linebacker Kenneth Tate; quarterback C.J. Brown; running back Brandon Ross; offensive lineman Josh Cary. Place-kicker Nick Ferrara also missed the first two games. Both Monroe and Brown are out for the season.
• Perry Hills became the first true freshman starter at quarterback for Maryland since Latrez Harrison in 1999. He also became the first freshman to start a season opener since redshirt freshman Calvin McCall on Sept. 2, 1999, in a 6-0 win over Temple.
• Maryland had 15 seniors on the 2011 roster, but just 12 of those players were listed on the two-deep at some point during the year. There are 17 seniors listed on the 2012 roster.
• Eleven of the top 13 tacklers from 2011 are back this season, including Hartsfield, who had a team-high 108 stops, and safety Eric Franklin, who was second with 106.
• Three Terps ended 2011 ranked among the top 12 in the ACC in tackles. Hartsfield was second at 12.0 per game and Franklin was sixth at 8.8. Vellano was 12th with 7.8 per contest.
• There are just two returning starters (Bennett Fulper and Justin Gilbert) on Maryland’s offensive line, but six players entered the season with starting experience. De’Onte Arnett, Josh Cary, Sal Conaboy and Peter White have also started on the o-line.
• Nine bowl teams from last year appear on Maryland’s 2012 schedule: Temple (Gildan New Mexico Bowl), West Virginia (Discover Orange Bowl), Wake Forest (Franklin American Mortgage Music City), Virginia (Chick-fil-A Bowl), NC State (Belk Bowl), Georgia Tech (Hyundai Sun Bowl), Clemson (Discover Orange Bowl), Florida State (Champs Sports Bowl) and UNC (AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl).
Maryland-Connecticut Series History
• Maryland and Connecticut have played just once in school history, a 34-0 Terrapin win in College Park in 1942.