COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Led by a defense that ranks as one of the nation’s best, Maryland will look to build on its ACC-opening victory over Wake Forest when it travels to Virginia for a 3 p.m. game that will be broadcast on Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic locally. The Terps and Cavaliers will be meeting for the 77th time, the most between Maryland and any other school in the Terps’ 120-year football history.
• For the first time since 1999, Maryland has held its opponent under 300 yards of total offense in four of the season’s first five games. Only No. 5 West Virginia, which is averaging 570.8 yards of total offense per game, exceeded the 300 mark against the Terrapins (363). The Terps rank seventh nationally in total defense (257.2 ypg), seventh in rushing defense (81.0 ypg) and 15th in passing defense (176.2 ypg). Maryland has 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 2.3 yards per rush, which ranks third 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 two games back: he has eight tackles, two for a loss, a sack, two pass breakups, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He and Hartsfield helped seal the victory over Wake Forest by providing back-to-back sacks late in the fourth quarter, preserving a 19-14 win. Hartsfield earned ACC Linebacker of the Week honors for his play.
• Offensively, wide receiver Stefon Diggs continues to be Maryland’s most dynamic playmaker. The freshman has put together back-to-back 100-yard receiving games by catching three passes for 113 yards and two TDs against West Virginia and then hauling in five passes for 105 yards vs. Wake Forest. Against the Demon Deacons, his 63-yard reception midway through the fourth quarter setup the game-winning score. Diggs, who ranks second in the ACC and 19th nationally with 154.8 all-purpose yards per game, is the only player in the conference with 350 receiving yards, 150 punt return yards and 150 kickoff return yards. He has been named ACC Rookie of the Week in each of his last two games.
• 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.
• The Maryland running game has been a work in progress as four capable backs have all seen time this season. SophomoreJustus Pickett, the most experienced of the four, and true freshman Wes Brown received the bulk of the carries against Wake Forest. Brown leads the team with 150 rushing yards and 4.5 yards per carry, while Pickett is second with 137 rushing yards and is a threat on screen passes, having caught 13 passes for 70 yards. True freshman Albert Reid, who started against William & Mary, and redshirt freshman Brandon Ross, who started the last two games, have also been in the mix.
• A Terrapin has received Rookie of the Week honors three times in Maryland’s last four games. Quarterback Perry Hillsearned the award for his play against Temple (9/8), while Stefon Diggs received the honor for his play against West Virginia (9/22) and Wake Forest (10/6). Hills became the first Maryland true freshman QB to earn the award since Calvin McCall on 9/20/99, while Diggs became the first Maryland freshman receiver to earn it since Darrius Heyward-Bey on 10/30/06.
• Diggs ranks ninth in the conference and first among freshmen with 72.8 receiving yards per game. Diggs, who has 17 catches for 364 yards, is averaging 21.4 yards per catch. That leads all ACC receivers with 15 or more catches. It also ranks third among the top-100 receivers (yards per game) nationally.
• Diggs is the only Maryland freshman to record back-to-back 100-yard receiving games 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.
• Maryland held a high-powered West Virginia offense that came in averaging 226 rushing yards per game to just 25 yards on 25 attempts.
• 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 121.4 yards in the second half.
• The Terps are holding opponents to 2.3 yards per carry, which ranks third nationally. Of the opponents’ 174 rushing attempts this season, 122 (70.1%) 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).
• Demetrius Hartsfield leads the team with 43 tackles and three sacks, and has 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 five 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. Against Wake Forest the Terps did their best job of clock control all season, holding the ball for 35:48 to just 24:12 for Wake.
• Head coach Randy Edsall hands out game balls for each win. In the win over William & Mary, Marcus Leak got the game ball for offense, Joe Vellano for defense and Nathan Renfro for special teams. In the win over Temple, Sal Conaboy got the game ball for offense, Demetrius Hartsfield for defense and A.J. Francis for special teams. Against Wake, Kevin Dorsey got the offensive game ball, Jeremiah Johnson the defensive and Anthony Nixon special teams.
• 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-Virginia Series History
• Saturday’s game will mark the 77th meeting between the Terrapins and Cavaliers, the most between Maryland and any other school in the Terps’ 120-year football history. The schools have met every season since 1957.
• Maryland leads the all-time series, which began in 1919, by a 42-32-2 margin.
• Maryland is 21-18 all-time against Virginia on the road, and has won two of the last three meetings in Charlottesville. The road team has won five of the last six meetings.
• Virginia has won four out of the last five in the series, with Maryland’s win coming in Charlottesville in 2010.
• From 1969 through 2000, play between the two schools was feast or famine for one team. From 1969-87, the Terrapins held an 18-1 advantage in the series and at one point ran off 16 wins in a row, the longest streak in the series. Then from 1988 to 2000, the series swung almost exclusively to the Cavs as they were 11-2 in that span. Over the last 11 meetings, Virginia holds a 6-5 edge.
• Maryland’s 41-21 win in 2001 broke a string of nine straight losses to Virginia. In the win, the Terps allowed a 24-7 lead to be cut to three in the third quarter before scoring 17 unanswered points in the fourth to win going away.