COLLEGE PARK, MD. – Maryland will play its first game of the season against a ranked opponent on Saturday when it travels to face interstate rival West Virginia, which is ranked No. 8 in this week’s Associated Press poll. The Terps (2-1) and Mountaineers (2-0) have played 48 times in the all-time series which dates back to 1919, the most games Maryland has played against any non-conference opponent. West Virginia has had the upper hand as of late, winning six straight in the series including a 37-31 victory in College Park last season. Prior to that, Maryland had won four in a row.
• Despite surrendering just 223 yards of total offense to Connecticut last Saturday, the Terps suffered a hard-fought, 24-21 loss to the Huskies. After trailing 14-0 in the second quarter, Maryland battled back to get within three points when freshman wide receiver Stefon Diggs caught a 29-yard touchdown pass from freshman quarterback Perry Hills with 14:07 left in the fourth quarter, making it 17-14 Connecticut. The Huskies, however, answered with a 10-play, 76-yard touchdown drive to go up 24-14. Hills helped get the Terps back within striking distance on a 10-yard touchdown run with 4:39 remaining, but after the Maryland defense forced a three-and-out to get the ball back with 3:29 left, the offense was unable to tie or score the go-ahead points.
• Still, the Terps have shown improvement from week-to-week with a team that has already played 12 true freshmen, the ninth most in the Football Bowl Subdivision, and lists 14 total in its two-deep depth chart (excluding return men). Maryland played 12 true freshmen in the season opener against William & Mary, the most for a Maryland team in at least 15 years (see note page 3), and seven players made their first career starts in the season opener. In week two, Hills received ACC Rookie of the Week honors after going 11 for 21 for 190 yards, two touchdown passes and a touchdown run in a 36-27 win over Temple. Against Connecticut, freshman running back Wes Brown shined against what came in as the top-ranked rushing defense nationally. The Huskies had allowed just 77 rushing yards total through their first two games – and Brown nearly matched that on his own. He had 74 yards on 14 carries, a 5.3 average, including a 19-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. On the season, Brown has a team-high 124 rushing yards and is averaging 5.9 yards per carry.
• The defense has led the way for a young but talented Maryland team on its way to a 2-1 record through the first three 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 2.58 yards per rush, which ranks 14th nationally. It’s also been a disruptive defense – Maryland’s 2.67 sacks per game are tied for 27th in the FBS and its seven tackles for loss per game are tied for 32nd. The Terrapin defense ranks sixth nationally against the pass (124.3 yards per game) and 28th against the run (103 yards per game). Overall, the Terps are allowing just 227.3 yards per game, which ranks eighth nationally.
• Maryland has also had a knack for forcing timely turnovers in the first three 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. In week three against Connecticut, Darin Drakeford forced a fumble on the Huskies opening drive that Maryland recovered. The Terps have forced six total turnovers so far, which is tied for the second most in the ACC.
• Maryland’s defense has allowed just 682 total yards to opponents through 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 won its first two games despite committing more turnovers than its opponent in each contest. In the loss to Connecticut, though, the Terps turned it over twice and the Huskies only had one giveaway. All 10 of the Terrapins turnovers (four interceptions, six fumbles) have come from freshmen.
• The Terps have done a good job controlling the clock. In three games, Maryland has had the ball for an average of 30:30 to 29:30 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 fourth most in the FBS (Colorado – 16, Texas – 15, TCU – 15).
• The Terps are holding opponents to 2.58 yards per carry, which ranks 14th nationally. Of the opponents’ 120 rushing attempts this season, 81 have been for three yards or less (28 of 41 vs. William & Mary; 28 of 39 vs. Temple; 25 of 40 vs. Connecticut).
• Demetrius Hartsfield leads the team with 26 tackles and has had a hand in three turnovers, also a team high (one interception, two fumble recoveries).
• 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.
• 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 three. Both Monroe and Brown are out for the season. Robinson and Cary both made their returns against Connecticut.
• 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, and 12 are on the two-deep.
• 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-West Virginia Series History
• Maryland and West Virginia have met a total of 48 times since the first meeting between the schools in 1919. The Mountaineers own a 25-21-2 lead in the all-time series. West Virginia has taken six straight from Maryland after the Terps had won the four meetings prior to that. The Terps defeated the Mountaineers 41-7 in the 2003 Toyota Gator Bowl in the only postseason meeting between the two schools.
• Last season, a comeback bid by Maryland fell short as West Virginia won 37-31 in College Park. Kevin Dorsey had nine catches for 79 yards and a touchdown, and Matt Furstenburg had seven catches for 70 yards. Mountaineer QB Geno Smith went 36 of 48 for 388 yards and a touchdown.
• Maryland has played West Virginia more than any other non-conference opponent, and the Terps have only faced six schools more than the Mountaineers.
• The Terps and Mountaineers met every season from 1980 to 2007. The teams took two years off (2008-09) in the series, but are scheduled to meet every year until at least 2017.
• 2013 – @ Maryland
• 2014 – @ Maryland
• 2015 – @ West Virginia
• 2016 – @ West Virginia
• 2017 – @ Maryland
• Maryland is 3-10 all-time against ranked West Virginia teams. The Terrapins last win over a ranked Mountaineer squad came in the 2003 Toyota Gator Bowl, when the 23rd-ranked Terps toppoled the 20th-ranked Mountaineers, 41-7.
• Maryland is 11-12-1 at home and 9-13-1 on the road in the series. The lone neutral site game was the 2003 Toyota Gator Bowl.