Tuesday 's News Conference Quotes
Saturday, Nov. 3
Maryland (4-4, 1-3 ACC)
North Carolina (2-6, 1-3 ACC)
Kickoff: 3:45 p.m. ET
Location: Chapel Hill, N.C.
Stadium: Kenan Memorial Stadium (60,000)
TV: ESPNU - Doug Bell (play-by-play) and Charles Arbuckle (color) will have the call.
Radio: Terrapin Sports Radio Network - Johnny Holliday (play-by-play), Jonathan Claiborne (color) and Tim Strachan (sidelines) have the call. XM Satellite Radio Channel 191. Pregame with Gary Stein and Scott McBrien begins at 2:15 p.m. The Terrapin Sports Radio Network (10 affiliates): LIVE 105.7 FM (WHFS) - Baltimore (Flagship); ESPN Radio 1300 AM (WJFK) - Baltimore (Flagship); WJFK 106.7 FM - Washington D.C.; WTBO AM 1450 - Cumberland; WFMD AM 930 - Frederick; WARK AM 1490 - Hagerstown; WMSG AM 1050 - Oakland; WQMR FM 101.1 - Ocean City; WMED 1460 AM - Easton; WPTX 1690 AM - Lexington Park, Md.
In the Red Zone...
The University of Maryland travels to Chapel Hill, N.C., Saturday to face the University of North Carolina. Maryland fell to Clemson, 30-17, Saturday, while North Carollina lost at Wake Forest, 37-10. The Terps will look to get back on the winning track when they face the Tar Heels at 3:45 p.m. ET in Kenan Stadium. The game is being televised nationally on ESPNU. It's the first meeting between the teams since 2005 when Maryland won 33-30 in overtime in Chapel Hill. The Terps have won the last four meetings with the Tar Heels. The Terrapin Sports Radio Network will handle the broadcast of the matchup with pregame starting at 2:15 p.m. The game will be replayed at 7:30 p.m. Sunday on Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic.
The Terps will look to get back on track defensively this weekend against North Carolina, which ranks sixth in the ACC in total offense (341.4 ypg). Maryland heads into the weekend ranked 55th nationally in total defense (367.2 ypg), including the 35th-ranked pass defense (202.13 ypg). Junior linebacker Erin Henderson has racked up 33 tackles in the last two games. Henderson missed the Georgia Tech game (Oct. 6) with a knee injury, but returned to post a career-high 18 stops vs. Virginia (Oct. 20). He ranks first in the ACC and second in the nation in tackles (12.6 pg). He has led the team in tackles each game he has played this season. Henderson was a preseason All-American and is a Butkus Award semifinalist. He is also on the watch lists for the Nagurski Trophy, and Bednarik Award. Junior Dave Philistin, a first-year starter at Mike linebacker, has been solid, averaging 9.8 tackles per game (fifth in the ACC). Senior tackle Dre Moore has a team-high four sacks, while junior cornerback Kevin Barnes is tied for fifth in the league in interceptions (0.38 pg).
The Terps offense, which was been decimated by injuries, is led by a solid ground game, which features senior backs Lance Ball and Keon Lattimore. Lattimore ranks tied for second in the ACC and 51th nationally in rushing (85.0 ypg), and has tallied a league-high 10 rushing TDs. Maryland's 149.9 rushing yards per game ranks fifth in the ACC. North Carolina ranks eighth in the ACC in total defense (337.6.7 ypg), including ninth in rushing defense (140.9). Sophomore WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, a member of the 2007 Biletnikoff Award watch list, leads the team in receptions (27) and receiving yards (419). The offensive line, which played without three starters vs. Clemson (Oct. 27), was led by senior guard Andrew Crummey before he was injured. A preseason All-American and candidate for the Lombardi Award and Outland Trophy, Crummey is shelved indefinitely with a fractured left fibula. The Terps also lost left guard Jaimie Thomas for the season when he fractured his right fibula in the first quarter of the Virginia game. In addition, left tackle Scott Burley missed all but three plays vs. Clemson (Oct. 27). Sophomore Chris Turner has stepped under center for junior Jordan Steffy who is in his first year as a starter. Steffy missed the Georgia Tech and Virginia games due to the effects of a concussion suffered at Rutgers. Turner has completed 56 of 87 passes (64.3 percent) for 724 yards over the last 10 quarters of action.
The Terps special teams has distinguished itself well after eight games despite three new starters. True freshman Travis Baltz and junior place-kicker Obi Egekeze are both in their first season as starters. Baltz ranks eighth in the ACC in punting average (40.9), including fourth (44.1) in league contests. Egekeze has hit 7 of 11 field goals, with two of the misses coming from beyond 50 yards. Redshirt freshman Da'Rel Scott, a backup running back, has been the No. 1 kickoff return man, though he has been slowed by injuries. He's averaging 19.5 yards per return. Junior Danny Oquendo is the lone returning specialist. He averages 8.4 yards per punt return, which is ninth in the league. The Terps rank fourth in the country in kickoff return yardage defense (17.4 ypr) and 33rd in punt return yardage defense (6.6 ypr).
Maryland is 195-159-4 (.550) all-time in ACC contests, including a 31-21 (.596) mark under Friedgen.
The Terps had won their last six contests decided by a touchdown or less until a 18-17 loss to Virginia on Oct. 20.
The Terps' 2007 schedule is ranked 13th-most difficult in the nation, based on past opposition. Maryland's foes so far this season have posted a record of 29-18 (.617).
Running backs Lance Ball and Keon Lattimore are closing in on becoming the second duo in school history to post 10 or more rushing touchdowns in the same season. Lattimore has a league-high 10 rushing scores, while Ball has nine. Bruce Perry and Marc Riley each had 10 during the 2001 campaign.
Lance Ball became the ninth back in school history to go over 2,000 career rushing yards with his team-high 86 yards in the win over Georgia Tech (Oct. 6). He needs 75 rushing yards to move from seventh to sixth on Maryland's career rushing yards chart. Ball, who has 2,191 career rushing yards, passed Willie Joyner (1980-83, 2,140) and Alvin Blount (1983-86, 2,158) Saturday.
Keon Lattimore needs 37 rushing yards to move from 15th to 14th on the Maryland career rushing list. Art Seymore (1970-72, 1,611) is currently 14th. With 51 yards on the ground vs. Clemson (Oct. 27), Lattimore moved up two spots passing Alvin Maddox (1975-78, 1,571) and Bren Lowery (1986-89, 1,611). Lattimore has 1,619 career rushing yards.
Sophomore Darrius Heyward-Bey ranks 19th on Maryland's career receiving yards list (1,113) and has a chance to move into the top 10 before season's end despite just 21 games at the position.
Maryland is the least penalized team in the ACC (4.75 pg). That mark also ranks tied for seventh in the nation.
The Terps are currently tied for fifth in the ACC and tied for 40th in the NCAA with a turnover margin of 0.38. Maryland has forced 15 turnovers on the season. The Terrapins recovered two fumbles and picked off a pass in the win over Rutgers and forced fumbles in both the Georgia Tech and Clemson games.
Young Terps Step Up...
Maryland used one more of its true freshmen vs. Clemson (Oct. 27). Fullback Haroon Brown saw action in place of an injured Cory Jackson. In addition, Bruce Campbell got the starting nod at left tackle in place of Scott Burley, who was also out injured. Campbell had played as a reserve vs. Villanova in the season opener. Brown was the fourth true freshmen to play this season (also Travis Baltz and Dominique Herald).
Henderson Doesn't Miss A Beat...
Junior LB Erin Henderson returned to the lineup against Virginia (Oct. 20) after missing the Georgia Tech game (Oct. 6) with a knee injury and picked up right where he left off, totaling a career-high 18 tackles. He also tallied a game-high 15 stops vs. Clemson (Oct. 27). The junior has led Maryland in stops in all seven games he has played in this season. Henderson was selected as one of 10 semifinalists on Oct. 18 for the Butkus Award, given to the nation's best collegiate linebacker, as announced by the Downtown Athletic Club of Orlando (DACO). He ranks first in the ACC and second nationally in tackles per game (12.6).
Senior backs Keon Lattimore and Lance Ball rank among the top running back duos in the nation and lead the fifth-ranked rushing offense (149.90 ypg) in the ACC. Lattimore has posted four 100-yard games and tallied 680 yards on the season. His 85.0 yards per game rank tied for second in the ACC and 51st in the nation and Ball's 59.0 ypg are ninth in the ACC. The Terps are the only team in the league with two players ranked among the top 10 rushers. Ball and Lattimore have combined for 19 rushing touchdowns and are on pace to post over 1,700 rushing yards. Last season, Ball and Lattimore combined for over 1,500 yards and were just one of just five running back tandems in the nation to gain over 700 yards apiece.
Injuries Taking a Toll...
The Terps have been hit by the injury bug in some key areas, RG Andrew Crummey, a preseason All-American, could miss the rest of the regular season after fracturing his left fibula vs. Georgia Tech (Oct. 6). Reserve DT Travis Ivey has missed the last two weeks. He suffered a knee injury vs. the Yellow Jackets. LB Rick Costa, who was starting for an injured Erin Henderson, incurred a sprained neck vs. the Yellow Jackets and is out indefinitely. QB Jordan Steffy sat out vs. Georgia Tech and Virginia after suffering a concussion vs. Rutgers (Sept. 29). He was cleared to play vs. Clemson (Oct. 27). The injuries continued the last two weeks. vs. Starting left guard Jaimie Thomas was lost for the season when he fractured his right fibula vs. Virginia (Oct. 20). FB Cory Jackson also played most of the Virginia game with a broken hand and missed the Clemson game. In addition, DE Mack Frost injured his right knee vs. the Cavaliers and is lost for the season. TE Dan Gronkowski left the Clemson game wth a knee injury. He is most likely out this weekend. The Terps also lost Alex Wujciak, who was expected to vie for one of the starting linebacker roles, during the preseason. In all the Terps will have 13 members of the two-deep miss at least one game (including this weekend) this season due to injury.
North Carolina at-A-Glance...
North Carolina has been competitive in Coach Butch Davis's first season, although the Heels have come up short in the standings. The Tar Heels are 2-6 overall and 1-3 in the ACC. Their only ACC win was a 33-27 victory over Miami on October 6.
The Tar Heels have dropped close games to highly ranked opponents, losing 17-10 to No. 17 Virginia Tech and 21-15 to No. 7 South Carolina.
Carolina is coming off a 37-10 loss to Wake Forest in which the Heels outgained the Deacons 313 to 269, but also turned the ball over three times. Wake scored on a 98-yard kickoff return and a 77-yard interception return to seal the victory.
Defensive end Hilee Taylor leads the Tar Heels defense with 12.5 tackles for loss, including eight sacks. He is tied for sixth in the country in sacks.
On the offensive side of the ball, Carolina is led by quarterback T.J. Yates and receiver Hakeem Nicks. Yates is completing 62.2 percent of his passes with 11 touchdowns. He owns a passer efficiency rating of 134.66, 37th best in the nation.
Yates has made Nicks his favorite target, and the receiver has 48 catches for 614 yards and three touchdowns this season. He is third in the ACC and tied for 37th nationally in receptions per game.
Maryland-North Carolina Series History...
Saturday's game will mark the 68th meeting between the Terrapins and Tar Heels. North Carolina owns a 35-31-1 edge in the all-time series. The two schools first met back in 1920 when Maryland blanked Carolina 13-0. Maryland is 14-19-1 against North Carolina in games played in Chapel Hill.
The Terps have never lost to the Heels under Ralph Friedgen's tenure as head coach. Maryland has taken the last four in the series, and has averaged 43.5 points in those games.
A 23-7 victory over UNC marked Ralph Friedgen's first game as head coach back in 2001, and it started Maryland's run to an ACC Championship.
The Terps have twice posted 59 points against the Tar Heels in Friedgen's tenure, winning 59-7 in 2002 and 59-21 in 2003. Those games along with a 59 point effort against Duke in 2001, mark the highest point total Maryland has had against a Division I opponent since Maryland defeated Virginia 62-24 in 1975.
In the last meeting between the schools, Maryland edged Carolina 33-30 in an overtime thriller in Chapel Hill. Dan Ennis, who had missed two field goals and an extra point in regulation, kicked a 28-yard field goal in overtime to give Maryland the win in that game.The Terrapins rallied from a 10-point deficit with nine minutes to play to force the extra period. Lance Ball ran for 161 yards and a touchdown, while tight end Vernon Davis had seven catches for 139 yards and a score.
Maryland has done an excellent job holding the ball and keeping it away from its opponents. The Terps rank 25th in the NCAA in time of possession, holding the ball for an average of 31:11 minutes per game. Through their first five games of the year, the Terps led the nation in TOP, averaging 34:48 minutes per game.
Maryland is winning the time of possession battle partly because it is holding onto the ball. The Terps have only lost 12 turnovers this season, tied for 21st best in the country.
After taking a 3-0 lead in the first quarter of the Clemson game, Maryland has now outscored its opponents 60-19 in the opening quarter of games this season.
The Terps posted a season-high 458 yards of total offense vs. Rutgers (Sept. 29) and had over 200 rushing and passing yards for the second time this season (also Villanova). QB Chris Turner came off the bench to throw for 149 yards in his first significant career action.
One of the foremost offensive minds in the collegiate or pro game, head coach Ralph Friedgen is in his second season as the Terps' offensive coordinator.
With 10 touchdowns on the season, running back Keon Lattimore has now more than tripled his season total from each of the last two seasons (three).
Lattimore had a spectacular seven-game stretch starting with the final two games of the 2006 season. He had ran for 737 yards in those games (119 vs. Wake Forest, 85 vs. Purdue, 106 vs. Villanova, 111 vs. FIU, 80 vs. WVU, 112 vs. WFU, and 124 vs. Rutgers.). This season he is averaging 85.0 rushing yards per game which is tied for second in the conference and 51st in the country. Lattimore had 51 yards vs. Clemson (Oct. 27).
Lattimore and fellow senior back Lance Ball have become quite familiar with the end zone this season. The seniors have scored a combined 19 touchdowns on the year, and both continue to climb the single-season list for rushing touchdowns. Lattimore is currently tied for 12th on the list with 10 scores, while Ball is tied for 16th with nine. Lattimore needs only one more score to move into the top 10. LaMont Jordan set the single-season record in 1999 with 16 scores on the ground.
Only two pairs of Maryland backs have ever rushed for more combined touchdowns in a single season. Chris Downs (13) and Josh Allen (8) totaled 21 in 2002, and Bruce Berry and Marc Riley had 10 each for the Terps in 2001.
Lattimore and Ball average a combined 14.57 points per game. Lattimore (7.50 ppg) and Ball (6.75 ppg) rank sixth and tied for eighth, respectively, in the ACC.
The dynamic Ball-Lattimore tailback duo combined for 1,558 yards last season, and have carried that success into the 2007 season. Through eight games this year, the pair have combined for 1,152 yards rushing and 19 touchdowns on 265 carries. Lattimore and Ball were one of just five running-back combos in the nation last season to collect over 700 rushing yards apiece.
Lattimore has rushed for over 100 yards in four of Maryland's eight games this season, a number which is even more impressive considering he is splitting time with Ball.
Only six players in school history have more than 100-yard rushing games in a season than Lattimore, who currently stands at four. Steve Atkins (1978) and Charlie Wysocki (1980) jointly hold the record with eight in one year.
Lattimore has six career 100-yard rushing games (119 vs. Wake Forest and 114 vs. Virginia in 2006; 106 vs. Villanova, 111 vs. FIU, 112 vs. WFU, and 124 vs. RU in 2007). That puts him in a tie for fifth on Maryland's career list.
When Lattimore finished with 111 yards on 12 carries against Florida International in week two, he became the first Terrapin back to open the season with back-to-back 100-yard rushing games since Bruce Perry opened with five straight 100-yard games in Maryland's ACC Championship season in 2001.
Sophomore wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey had caught a pass in 19 consecutive games before getting shut out against Clemson. In 21 career games, Heyward-Bey has led the team in receiving yards in 10 times (Georgia Tech -111, Florida State - 57, Miami - 175, Purdue - 81 in 2006), including six of the Terrapins' games this season (Villanova - 81, FIU - 48, WVU - 56, RU - 61, GT - 109, and UVA - 54).
Heyward-Bey currently ranks 11th in the ACC in receiving yards per game (52.38). He is tied for 16th in the conference in receptions per game (3.38).
Redshirt freshman wideout Adrian Cannon had not seen game action since the season opener against Villanova, but had a career day in Saturday's game. Cannon caught two balls for 60 yards, including one for 44, Maryland's longest play of the day.
Wide receiver Isaiah Williams matched a career high with five catches for 47 yards. He has had five catches in a game once before - in last season's game against Clemson. He had 66 yards receiving in that game.
Entering the season, no quarterback on the Maryland roster had ever started a game. Eight games in, Maryland finds itself with two capable signal callers.
Prior to his injury, Jordan Steffy was efficient and accurate while directing the Terrapin offense. He is 68 of 100 (68.0 percent) for 674 yards on the year. His completion percentage leads the ACC.
In his first five games as a starter, Steffy owns a pass efficiency rating of 123.22 which would rank seventh in the conference if he had played in enough games (75 percent) to qualify.
Turner has been solid in relief of Steffy, who left the Rutgers game just before halftime with an injury and missed the next two games versus Georgia Tech and Virginia.
In the last 3 1/2 games, Turner has completed 56 of 87 passes for 726 yards. He owns an efficiency rating of 130.17, seventh best in the ACC.
In his first career, Turner threw for 255 yards against Georgia Tech on 10 of 17 passing. It was the most yards through the air by a Terrapin quarterback since Sam Hollenbach threw for 374 yards against North Carolina on Nov. 12, 2005.
The 255 yards passing by Turner were the most by a Maryland quarterback in a starting debut since Scott Zolak threw for 303 in a 20-13 win over Virginia Tech in 1990. Only one other quarterback since 1991 (Scott Milanovich, 253 vs. Virginia in 1993) surpassed 200 yards in their first career start.
In the previous game, Turner led Maryland to an upset of then No. 10 Rutgers. Turner threw for 149 yards on 14 of 20 passing, and led four second half scoring drives. He was named ACC Co-Offensive Back of the Week for his performance against the Scarlet Knights.
The 78-yard touchdown pass Turner threw to reserve tight end Jason Goode against Georgia Tech was the first career score for each player. It was also the longest career play for each. Goode's previous career-long was a 57 yard reception against Clemson last year.
In his first game as a collegiate starter, Steffy completed 19 of 24 passes (79 percent) for 174 yards and one interception. The junior's debut was the most efficient effort by a Maryland quarterback starting his first career game since Brian Cummings completed 83 percent of his passes in a 1995 win over Tulane to open the year.
Joey Haynos and Dan Gronkowski form one of the top tight end duos in the nation, although the latter will be out at least this week with a knee injury. Each has started at the position. In fact, even though Haynos was the second-leading receiver on the team in 2006, Gronkowski started more games in the Terps' two-tight end set. Gronkowski opened nine contests, while Haynos started six. Haynos is a member of the Mackey Award watch list.
Injuries have decimated the offensive line. With the injury to RG Andrew Crummey (fractured fibula), the Terps have just one returning starter from last season (C Edwin Williams) playing on the offensive line, though the group has quite a bit of experience. LG Jaimie Thomas, who was lost for the season in the Virginia game (Oct. 20), played in all 13 games last season, starting three, while Dane Randolph played in 11 games, mostly at right tackle. Randolph started four games there, including the Champs Sports Bowl. Starting left tackle Scott Burley missed Saturday's game with an ankle injury and true freshman Bruce Campbell got the start in his place, before he too had to leave with a leg injury. Burley has played in each of the last three seasons, including eight games as a sophomore in 2005, and is likely back for the North Carolina game. Junior Jack Griffin, meanwhile, who was penciled in as the No. 2 right tackle, redshirted last season, but did see action as a freshman and sophomore, though that came on the d-line. Griffin has stepped into Crummey's starting right guard role. Sophomore Phil Costa served as the reserve center and guard. Costa started at right guard for Crummey vs. Virginia, but slid over to left guard to take over Thomas' spot beginning with the Clemson game (Oct. 27). Friedgen considered the Terps to have seven starters along the o-line due to the skill and versatility of this group. Injuries to Crummey and Thomas have reduced that number to five.
Crummey has started a team-high 33 games, while Williams' 21 consecutive starts lead the offense. Williams is the only offensive returnee to start all 13 games in 2006.
Sophomore Josh Portis, who was second on the depth chart at quarterback, was ruled ineligible for the year, just prior to the season opener. Sophomore Chris Turner, who was second on the depth chart with Portis for much of preseason camp, has moved to No. 1 on the depth chart due to Steffy's injury.
The Terps rank 10th in the ACC and 55th in the nation in total defense (367.25 yards per game).
Since sitting out the Georgia Tech game (Oct. 6) due to injury, Maryland's Erin Henderson has been on a tear posting 33 stops in his last two games. The linebacker had a career-high 18 tackles against Virginia, and made another 15 stops in the loss to Clemson. On a fake punt in the third quarter of Saturday's game, Henderson recorded his first career carry, a 12-yard gain which picked up a first down. He leads the ACC in tackles with 12.6 per game, which also ranks second in the country. The junior has led the team in stops each game he has played this season. Henderson was a preseason All-American and was recently named a Butkus Award semifinalist. He is also on the watch lists for the Nagurski Trophy and Bednarik Award.
On Thursday October 18, Henderon was selected as one of 10 semifinalists for the Butkus Award, given to the nation's best collegiate linebacker, as announced by the Downtown Athletic Club of Orlando (DACO).
In the upset of No. 10 Rutgers, Henderson had 11 total tackles despite playing over three quarters with a knee sprain. He led the team in stops in five of the Terps 13 games a season ago. Henderson is the returning starter at weakside linebacker, where he tallied 8.8 tackles per game last season, second most in the ACC.
Maryland's pass defense has been solid thus far, allowing only 202.13 yards per game by opponents, the 35th-best figure in the nation.
After totaling eight interceptions all of last season, the Maryland defense has recorded seven in the first eight games of 2007. The Terps picked off Wake Forest's Riley Skinner three times on Sept. 22. The last time Maryland had intercepted three passes in a game was Oct. 20, 2005, against Virginia Tech. Against Wake, Kevin Barnes, Isaiah Gardner and Henderson all had picks.
For Barnes, it was his third interception of the season. The corner, who is in his first season as a full-time starter, is tied for fifth in the ACC in interceptions per game (0.38) and is tied for 53rd in the country in that category.
When Barnes isn't picking off quarterbacks, he's swatting the ball away from receivers. The junior is tied for third in the conference in passes defended with 1.12 per game, a number that is tied for 39th nationally. He leads all Terps with seven pass breakups.
Maryland posted three sacks in the loss to Virginia, the most the Terps have had since the season opener. Maryland sacked Villanova quarterback Antwon Young four times in that game, the most by Maryland since posting the same number vs. NC State last season (Oct. 21).
Senior Dre Moore had a hand in each of those defensive efforts, netting two sacks in both of those games. Against Clemson he stepped up with another big game, forcing a fumble of quarterback Cullen Harper in the first half and notching seven tackles.
Six Terrapin defenders have started more than 15 career games for Maryland and three (Jeremy Navarre, Trey Covington and Christian Varner) have started more than 25. Covington has started 29 of the last 30 games at LEO, a hybrid linebacker/defensive end position, while Varner has started 31 of the last 32 at safety, including a team-high 30 straight. In addition, Navarre has started 30 of the last 32 contests.
Defensive linemen Mack Frost and Navarre each had key fourth quarter sacks of Rutgers QB Mike Teel in the upset win. They were the first two sacks allowed by Rutgers on the year.
Navarre's came on a fourth down as Rutgers, then trailing by three, was attempting to tie or take the lead. Navarre's hit forced a fumble, and Maryland took over on downs, setting up Lance Ball's second touchdown of the day on the very next play. For Frost it was his first of the season.
Navarre tallied a career-high nine tackles vs. Clemson (Oct. 27).
In their first two games of the year, the Terps held back-to-back opponents below 200 yards of total offense for the first time since 2003. In that year, Maryland held The Citadel to 137 yards of total offense in a 61-0 win, and then limited West Virginia to 156 in a 34-7 win the following week.
Prior to West Virginia (Sept. 13), the Terps had not allowed the opposing team to rush for 100 yards in three straight games (Purdue, 21 yards, Villanova, 12 yds, FIU, 82 yds.).
Maryland held Rutgers to 82 yards on 23 carries on Sept. 29, marking the third time this season the Terps did not allow 100 yards rushing. Rutgers entered the game averaging 228.3 yards per game on the ground.
One area of strength for the Terrapins in preseason camp was the defensive line, where the Terps returned Moore and fellow senior Carlos Feliciano, as well as juniors Frost and Navarre. Frost consistently drew praise from Friedgen for his work in preseason practice, while the head coach has stated that Moore is playing the best football of his career. Frost, however, has been lost for the season with a knee injury suffered vs. Virginia (Oct. 20).
In the season opener versus Villanova, Dave Philistin got the starting nod at middle linebacker, marking the third consecutive season the Terps have opened the year with a different Mike from the year before. Wesley Jefferson, who manned the middle for the Terps a year ago after replacing D'Qwell Jackson in 2006, graduated early to pursue a career as a state trooper. Jefferson was second on the team in tackles in 2006. Chase Bullock entered the fall No. 1 on the depth chart and remained there until an injury forced him out of the lineup.
Phillistin has more than filled the void left by Jefferson. He has stepped up his play with four consecutive games with double-digit tackles, including 12 against Clemson.
Philistin currently ranks sixth in the ACC and tied for 48th in the nation in tackles per game (9.38). Against Georgia Tech he led the team in tackles with a career-high 21. It marked the second straight game that he had set a new career record, after he totaled 11 against Rutgers. Philistin's 21 stops were the most for a Terrapin since Eric Barton tallied 22 in 1998 against North Carolina. Philistin was named ACC Defensive Lineman of the Week for his performance against the Jackets.
Maryland has had at least one defensive player drafted into the NFL in each of the last 11 seasons and 17 defensive players overall in that time span, including cornerback Josh Wilson last season. Of the Terps defenders selected, 11 have gone in the first three rounds, including first round picks Chad Scott (1997) and Shawne Merriman (2005).
Varner and Gardner are the only two defensive returnees to start all 13 games last season. Jefferson was the only other defender to start each contest in 2006.
The Terps suffered a major loss in the preseason when LB Alex Wujciak injured a knee during a practice. He had ACL surgery at the end of August and should return next season. The redshirt freshman was expected to play LEO and possibly at Mike.
Special Teams Notes...
In punter Adam Podlesh and kicker Dan Ennis, the Terps never had to worry about their special teams last season. Podlesh was a four-time All-ACC punter and two-time semifinalist for the Ray Guy Award, while Ennis connected on 20 of 25 field goals last
season and tied for ninth nationally in field goals per game (1.54).
The Terrapins tapped place-kicker Obi Egekeze and punter Travis Baltz at the start of the season to replace their sensational specialists from 2006, and the early returns are solid. Egekeze has been near perfect this season, the one exception coming in the win over Rutgers game (Sept. 29) when he went 2-for-5. Through seven games Egekeze is a perfect 24-for-24 on PATs, and 7 of 11 on field goal attempts. Two of those misses have come from beyond 50 yards (52 vs. FIU; 51 vs. Rutgers). He ranks 10th in the ACC in kick scoring (5.6).
Baltz, a true freshman, has been solid thus far in his brief Maryland career. After averaging 43.0 yards on two punts against Villanova, Baltz averaged 37.9 yards on nine punts against FIU, but pinned the Golden Panthers' inside their 20-yard-line on five of his nine kicks. The five punts inside the 20 were the most by a Maryland punter since Brooks Barnard had six in Ralph Friedgen's first game as head coach, a 23-7 win over North Carolina in 2001. Baltz's nine punts were the most by a Maryland punter since Adam Podlesh booted the ball 11 times in a 13-3 loss to NC State in 2004.
In October, Maryland faced three punters ranked in the top-10 nationally in punting average, but Baltz acquited himself well in those games, out-punting Virginia's Ryan Weigand and Georgia Tech's Durant Brooks who currently rank fourth and seventh in the NCAA in yards per punt. Baltz has averaged 40.9 yards on 41 punts with 11 downed inside the 20-yard line.
Baltz has had his best outings vs. ACC competition. Against Wake Forest, Baltz punted six times for 268 yards, a 44.7 average. He recorded one punt for a then career long of 54 yards, and put two balls inside the 20-yard line. In the win over Georgia Tech, Baltz averaged a career-high 49.6 yards per punt (five attempts), including a career long of 65 yards. It was the 10th best single-game average in Maryland history. In the loss to Virginia, Baltz averaged 44.7 yards on six punts and put two balls inside the 10. He ranks eighth in the ACC in punting (41.5 ypp), including 44.1 in league games.
Kickoff specialist Chris Roberts has also helped pick up the special teams unit. He's averaged over 60 yards per kickoff, with opponents' average starting point of drives at the 27-yard line. He had his first touchback vs. Rutgers (Sept. 29). The Scarlet Knights averaged less than 18 yards per kickoff return.
Roberts' strong play combined with strong tackling has the Terps ranked fourth in the nation in kickoff return yardage defense (17.43 ypr).
Egekeze and Baltz hope to live up to the Terps' lofty standards. Maryland has a strong history of special teams play in the Friedgen era. Podlesh, as well as Barnard and former kicker Nick Novak, moved on to the NFL. Although Egekeze served as a kickoff specialist last season, neither he nor Baltz had attempted a kick in a game prior to the 2007 opener.
When Baltz entered the Villanova game (Sept. 1) in the second quarter, he became the first true freshman to start an opening-day game for the Terps since defensive end Jeremy Navarre in 2005, and only the second of the Ralph Friedgen era.
The Terps have some big shoes to fill at kick returner as Josh Wilson has taken his game to the NFL. Wilson ranked third in the ACC (11th nationally) last season in kick returns (27.3 ypr) en route to setting a single-season school record for return yards (847). Backup running back Da'Rel Scott got a shot at returning kicks against Wake Forest (Sept. 22) and responded with 101 yards on four returns, including a long return of 39 yards. He has 253 yards on 13 returns for the year. Reserve safety Terrell Skinner, who moved from wide receiver in the spring, opened the season as the primary kick returner, and has averaged 18.5 yards on six returns.
Maryland is fortunate to have the sure-handed Danny Oquendo back to handle punt return duties. Last season, Oquendo ranked eighth in the ACC and 53rd nationally in return average (8.4). Through seven games this season, Oquendo has averaged 8.4 yards on 11 returns. Christian Varner has served as Oquendo's backup, returning three punts for 20 yards.
By The Numbers...
0...Career collegiate starts by the Terps' three quarterbacks entering the season.
2...Dave Philistin ranks second in the ACC in tackles (12.8 pg) in league contests. Teammate Erin Henderson is first.
3...Dave Philistin's 21 tackles vs. Georgia Tech are the fifth-most in an NCAA Bowl Subdivision game this season. Bryce Hudman of SMU had 26 vs. Arkansas State (Sept. 15), Lamar Myles of Louisville posted 22 vs. Kentucky (Sept. 15), Austin Thomas of Indiana had 22 vs. Michigan State (Oct. 13) and Russell Allen of San Diego State tallied 22 vs. Utah (Oct. 13).
4...Keon Lattimore's four 100-yard games already rank tied for seventh on the Terps single-season chart. Charles Wysocki (1980) and Steve Atkins (1978) each had a Maryland record eight 100-yard games.
7...Number of 2006 bowl teams on this year's Maryland schedule.
10...Erin Henderson is one of 10 semifinalists for the Butkus Award, honoring the top linebacker in the nation.
13...Number of players on the two-deep who have or are expected to miss at least one game due to injury. The list includes Jordan Steffy, Andrew Crummey, Jaimie Thomas, Cory Jackson, Dan Gronkowski (expected to miss UNC game), Mack Frost, Travis Ivey, Rick Costa, Alex Wujciak, Richard Taylor, Erin Henderson, Chase Bullock and Da'Rel Scott.
30...Christian Varner has started a team-high 30 consecutive games.
44.1...Travis Baltz's punting average in ACC games, a mark which ranks fifth in the conference.
70...Chris Turner had thrown 70 consecutive passes without an interception until his second quarter pick vs. Clemson (Oct. 27).
79...Jordan Steffy completed 79 percent of his passes in his first career start, a mark which ranks No. 7 on the Terp's all-time single-game list.