COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Maryland returns to Capital One Field at Byrd Stadium for its second-to-last home game of the 2012 season when it plays host to Georgia Tech Saturday at 12:30 p.m. The Terps are coming off a pair of close losses and have played in close games throughout the year. Maryland’s average margin of victory is 5.5 and its average margin of defeat is just 4.5. The series with Georgia Tech has also been close in recent history – five of the last seven games in the series have been decided by five points or less. Last year, the Yellow Jackets claimed a 21-16 victory in Atlanta.
• The Terps are in what seems to be uncharted territory at the quarterback position. 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.
• Against Georgia Tech, true freshman Shawn Petty will take the reins at QB. 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 1300 yards and 15 TDs, and ran for 550 yards and 10 TDs. Fellow true freshman Brian McMahon, a tight end, will back up Petty. McMahon also played QB in high school. When Petty starts, Maryland will become 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).
• Despite the injuries and the fact that the Terps have relied on mostly young players – the 14 true freshmen Maryland has played are tied for the fifth most in the FBS – they are two wins away from bowl eligibility. That’s in large part due to a defense which has ranked among the nation’s best throughout the season.
• The Terps rank seventh nationally in total defense (289.3 ypg), fourth in rushing defense (77.6 ypg) and 40th in passing defense (211.6 ypg). Maryland has held its last two opponents under 50 rushing yards: NC State totaled just 40 yards on 26 attempts (1.5 yards per carry) and Boston College had just 8 yards on 27 attempts (0.3 yards per carry). Maryland has an experienced front seven highlighted by senior defensive linemen Joe Vellano and A.J. Francis, and senior linebackerDemetrius Hartsfield. Those three have played a big role in holding opponents to an average of just 2.31 yards per rush, which ranks third nationally behind Alabama and Stanford. Adding to Maryland’s strength up front are senior linebackersKenneth Tate and Darin Drakeford.
• Maryland’s 7.6 tackles for loss per game are tied for 10th in the FBS and its 3.0 sacks per game are tied for 12th. Vellano leads the ACC and is tied for ninth nationally with 1.75 tackles for loss per game. He was named ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week after recording five tackles and 2.5 sacks, along with a forced fumble against Boston College. Drakeford, meanwhile, has 8.0 TFLs and Hartsfield has 7.0.
• Offensively and on special teams, wide receiver Stefon Diggs continues to be Maryland’s most dynamic playmaker. Against Virginia, the freshman returned the game’s opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown and last week vs. BC he had a career-high 11 catches for 152 yards and a touchdown. Over the last five games he’s averaging 104.0 receiving yards per game, while his 169.3 all-purpose yards per game this season rank second in the ACC and ninth nationally. 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 has lost seven players to season-ending injuries this year, four of which are quarterbacks. QB C.J. Brown (knee), QB Devin Burns (foot), QB Perry Hills (knee), PK/P Nick Ferrara (hip), 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). Additionally, a defensive player has captured weekly honors in three of the past four weeks: Demetrius Hartsfieldearned Linebacker of the Week for his play against Wake Forest (10/6), and Darin Drakeford received the award against Virginia (10/13). Joe Vellano was named Defensive Lineman of the week for his play against Boston College (10/27).
• Diggs ranks fourth in the conference and first among freshmen with 83.2 receiving yards per game. Diggs, who has 38 catches for 666 yards, already ranks 16th 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 25 players have seen their first career action for Maryland at some point this season (14 true freshmen, eight redshirt freshmen, two juniors, one senior).
• The Terps are holding opponents to 2.31 yards per carry, which ranks third nationally. Of the opponents’ 269 rushing attempts this season, 186 (69.1%) 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).
• Demetrius Hartsfield leads the team with 69 tackles and is just outside Maryland’s top 15 with 329 in his career. He needs two stops to pass Kevin Walker for 15th on Maryland’s career tackles chart.
• The Terps have done a good job controlling the clock. In seven games, Maryland has had the ball for an average of 31:43 to 28:17 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.
• Head coach Randy Edsall hands out game balls for each win. Most recently, Darin Drakeford received the defensive game ball and Stefon Diggs got the special teams game ball for the win over Virginia (see complete list, page 6).
• Against William & Mary, 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.
• 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-Georgia Tech Series History
• Georgia Tech owns a 14-6 advantage in the all-time series, and has taken four of the last five from Maryland.
• The Yellow Jackets joined the ACC in 1983 and the teams first met in 1988. They played each other for 17 straight seasons (1988-04) before league expansion necessitated a rotating schedule.
• Five of the last seven games in the series have been decided by five points or less. Last year, the Yellow Jackets claimed a 21-16 victory in Atlanta. C.J. Brown rallied the Terps from a 21-3 halftime deficit with a 77-yard touchdown run and Davin Meggett cut the lead to five with a 1-yard TD run, but the Terps would get no closer.
• Maryland’s win in 2007, the last meeting between the teams in College Park, snapped a three-game Georgia Tech winning streak. In his first career start, Chris Turner threw for 255 yards, and Lance Ball ran for three touchdowns as Maryland held on for a 28-26 victory over Georgia Tech. Travis Bell sent a 52-yard field goal attempt wide right with 54 seconds remaining.
• Georgia Tech edged Maryland 27-23 in a 2006 thriller in Atlanta. The Terps had the ball at the Yellow
Jacket 7-yard line with only seconds remaining, but were stopped shy of the winning score.
• Maryland’s Lance Ball and Tech’s Tashard Choice had 116 and 138 rushing yards, respectively, in that game, as the two dueled it out on the ground. The Yellow Jackets’ Calvin Johnson had 133 yards receiving and Terrapin wideout Darrius Heyward-Bey had 111 to provide Maryland’s yards through the air.