COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Led by a defense that ranks as one of the nation’s best, Maryland is 2-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference for the first time since 2001. The Terps, coming off victories over Wake Forest and Virginia, will look to improve to 3-0 in the league for just the second time since winning three straight ACC Championships from 1983-85, when it takes on NC State in its Homecoming game. Maryland and NC State have met 68 times in history, and the all-time series is even at 32-32-4. The Terps have won three straight over the Wolfpack in College Park and five of the last six.
• With another gutty fourth quarter performance, Maryland held on to beat Virginia, 27-20, last Saturday. The Cavaliers cut Maryland’s lead to 17-13 with 0:29 left in the third quarter, but the Terps scored the game’s next 10 points and held on late. In Maryland’s four wins, the Terps average margin of victory is just 5.5 points, and the opponent has been within a tying score at some point in the fourth quarter in each of those games. The Terps, though, have outscored opponents 51-31 in the final stanza and have received key defensive stops when it’s mattered most.
• The Terps rank ninth nationally in total defense (278.7 ypg), tied for ninth in rushing defense (95.5 ypg) and 18th in passing defense (183.2 ypg). Though Virginia tallied 168 rushing yards, the most by a Maryland opponent this season, the Terps have been 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 2.65 yards per rush, which ranks seventh nationally. The Terps received a major boost to their linebacking corps with the return of Kenneth Tate in the West Virginia game. Tate, a 2010 consensus first team All-ACC choice, had missed the previous 11 games dating back to the 2011 season due to a knee injury. The fifth-year senior has already made an impact in his three games back: he has 15 tackles, two for a loss, a sack, three pass breakups, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
• Vellano and Darin Drakeford have been the biggest contributors for a Maryland defense which has been disruptive in the opponent backfield – Maryland’s 7.8 tackles for loss per game are tied for 11th in the FBS and its 3.0 sacks per game are tied for 14th. Drakeford, who was named the ACC Linebacker of the Week for his performance at Virginia, ranks third in the ACC with 0.75 sacks per game and is second on the team with 6.5 tackles for loss. That trails only Vellano with 11.0, which leads the conference and ranks 13th nationally.
• 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 went on to catch four passes for 89 yards. Over the last three games he’s averaging 102.3 receiving yards per game, while his 168.8 all-purpose yards per game this season lead the ACC and rank ninth nationally. Additionally, Diggs ranks second in the conference in yards per catch (21.6) and has earned ACC weekly honors in each of Maryland’s last three games (Rookie of the Week – WVU, Wake Forest; Specialst of the Week – Virginia).
• Quarterback Perry Hills, who is just the third true freshman quarterback to start for Maryland in school history (Randall Jones in 1998; Latrez Harrison in 1999), is directing the offense. Hills had his best collegiate game against West Virginia when he finished 20 of 29 for 305 yards and three touchdowns, all season highs. He led Maryland on the game-winning touchdown drive in the fourth quarter of the season opener against William & Mary, and was named ACC Rookie of the Week after going 11 of 21 for 190 yards and two touchdowns in the win at Temple. Hills has been at his best in the fourth quarter, having completed 24 of 35 passes for 390 yards and two touchdowns in the final stanza.
• Stefon Diggs has earned ACC Player of the Week honors in three straight games, and a Terp has captured Linebacker of the Week honors in two straight games. Diggs won Rookie of the Week for his play against West Virginia (9/22) and Wake Forest (10/6) and Specialist of the Week against Virginia (10/13). Demetrius Hartsfield earned Linebacker of the Week for his play against Wake Forest, while Darin Drakeford received the award against Virginia.
• For the first time since 1999, Maryland held its opponent under 300 yards of total offense in four of the season’s first five games. Only No. 17 West Virginia exceeded the 300 mark against the Terrapins (363). In the sixth game of the season, Virginia also broke the 300 mark (386).
• Diggs ranks eighth in the conference and first among freshmen with 75.5 receiving yards per game. Diggs, who has 21 catches for 453 yards, is averaging 21.6 yards per catch. That ranks second among ACC receivers and sixth among the top-100 receivers (yards per game) nationally.
• 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).
• Thirteen players have made their first career starts at some point this season. 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 Kilgo and offensive lineman Nick Klemm debuted. Against Connecticut, wide receiver Stefon Diggs made his first career start; defensive back Isaac Goins and running back Brandon Ross made their starting debuts at West Virginia. Defensive back Anthony Nixon and offensive linemen Mike Madaras and Andrew Zeller made their first starts vs. Wake Forest.
• Fourteen players saw their first career action for Maryland against William & Mary, and 22 players have seen their first career action for Maryland at some point this season (12 true freshmen, seven redshirt freshmen, two juniors, one senior).
• Maryland’s defense allowed just 682 total yards to opponents through its first three games (William & Mary – 229, Temple – 230, Connecticut – 223). That marks its best defensive performance in a three-game span since 2004, when it held The Citadel (137), West Virginia (156) and Eastern Michigan (275) to a total of 568.
• West Virginia came into its game with Maryland averaging 612 yards of total offense and 55.5 points per game. The Terps held the Mountaineers well below those averages, surrendering 363 yards and 31 points, seven of which came on a fumble return for a TD by the WVU defense.
• The Terps surrendered just 45 yards to Wake Forest in the second half, including just four in the fourth quarter. Maryland has been at its best in the second half all year, surrendering just 133.3 yards on average.
• The Terps are holding opponents to 2.65 yards per carry, which ranks seventh nationally. Of the opponents’ 216 rushing attempts this season, 147 (68.1%) 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).
• Demetrius Hartsfield leads the team with 51 tackles and is tied for second with three sacks. He’s also had a hand in three turnovers, also a team high (one interception, two fumble recoveries).
• The Terps have done a good job controlling the clock. In six games, Maryland has had the ball for an average of 30:50 to 29:10 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.
• 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-NC State Series History
• Saturday’s game marks the 69th meeting between Maryland and North Carolina State. The schools first met in 1909 when NC State shut out Maryland 33-0. The teams have met every season since 1956, and the series is split evenly (32-32-4).
• The Wolfpack took eight of nine from the Terps from 1991 to 1999, before the Terps turned things around in the new millennium. Maryland has won eight of 12 in the series since 2000, with the games frequently ending in dramatic fashion. Aside from a 37-0 Maryland win in 2007, the 10 games since 2000 have been decided by an average of 6.5 points. Nick Novak hit game-winning field goals for the Terps in the final seconds in 2002 and 2003, and Maryland scored the decisive touchdown in 2001 with 41 seconds left. Quarterback Shaun Hill rallied the Terps from a 15-point halftime deficit in the 2000 game for a 35-28 double-overtime victory.
• Maryland has won three straight in College Park: 26-20 in 2006, 27-24 in 2008 and 38-31 in 2010. The Terrapins hold a 17-12-2 all-time advantage in the series in College Park and have lost to the Wolfpack just once at home since 2000.
• Last year, NC State overcame a 27-point deficit by scoring 35 points in the fourth quarter for a 56-41 win. It was the second biggest comeback in ACC history.
Hill to be Honored
• The University of Maryland department of athletics will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Darryl Hill becoming the first African-American player to play at the University of Maryland and in the Atlantic Coast Conference, when the Terrapins take on NC State Saturday afternoon. Hill, head coach Randy Edsall and director of athletics Kevin Anderson will also hold a press conference at noon on Tuesday, which can be seen here.
• Hill transferred to Maryland in 1962 and after sitting out one year he broke the color barrier in 1963, playing his first home game against NC State in College Park. Hill was also the first African-American to play at Gonzaga High School and the Naval Academy.
• Hill emerged as Maryland’s top wide receiver in 1963, finishing with 43 receptions, only three short of the school record at the time. Hill’s seven touchdown receptions that year are tied for the fifth most in a single season in school history.
• He played with the New York Jets for a short period before returning to school and earning a master’s degree from Southern Illinois. He has started businesses in China, Russia as well as the Pacific Energy Corporation. He also returned to Maryland for a period to serve as a Maryland’s director of major gifts.