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Maryland Preview 2006
Maryland QB Sam Hollenbach
Posted Jul 31, 2006

This new world of ACC football means there's a razor-thin difference between being a bowl team and an also-ran.

Offense | Defense | Depth Chart | Further Analysis

NC State was average and finished 6-5. Maryland was 5-6 and sat home for the bowl season. Of course, after winning 31 games in the first three seasons under head coach Ralph Friedgen, Maryland has been hoping for being more than merely in the hunt for a bowl game. But that's been the case with a reloading team that has played tough team after tough team after tough team.

The problem hasn't been beating the top teams, Maryland didn't do that when it was hot, it has been beating the above-average ones. From 2001 to 2003, the Terps went 2-7 against the nine teams that finished with nine or more wins getting blasted in several of those losses. However, they only lost one (7-3 to Georgia Tech in 2003) to a team that finished with fewer than nine victories. In 2004 and 2005, Maryland actually wasn't horrible against teams that finished with nine or more wins going 2-4, but it lost eight games against the above-average.

Head coach: Ralph Friedgen
6th year: 41-20
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 20, Def. 20, ST 5
Lettermen Lost: 17
Ten Best Terp Players
1. RB Josh Allen, Sr.
2. CB Josh Wilson, Sr.
3. OT Jared Gaither, Soph.
DT Conrad Boiston, Sr.
5. RB Lance Ball, Jr.
6. LB Wesley Jefferson, Jr.
OT Stephon Heyer, Sr.
8. P Adam Podlesh, Sr.
LB Erin Henderson, Soph.
10. OG Andrew Crummey, Jr.

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 6-6

9/2 William & Mary
9/9 MTSU
9/14 at West Virginia
9/23 FIU
10/7 at Georgia Tech
10/14 at Virginia
10/21 NC State
10/28 Florida State
11/4 at Clemson
11/11 Miami
11/18 at Boston College
11/25 Wake Forest

2005 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 6-5
2005 Record: 5-6

Preview 2005 predicted wins

9/3 Navy (in Balt) W 23-20
9/10 Clemson L 28-24
9/17 West Virginia  L 31-19
9/24 at Wake Forest W 22-12
10/1 Virginia  W 45-33
10/8 at Temple W 38-7
10/20 Virginia Tech  L 38-9
10/29 at Florida State L 35-27  
11/12 at UNC W 33-30 OT
11/19 Boston College L 31-16
11/26 at NC State L 20-14

Part of the issue has been an improved ACC. Part of the issue has been a Terp team trying to find itself. The 2006 team should be closer to the early days of the Friedgen era.

Rarely do teams get a shot in the arm talent-wise the way Maryland gets one this season. 2004's top rusher Josh Allen is back after missing all of last year with a knee injury. One of the team's top offensive tackles, Stephon Heyer, is back, as is rising linebacker Erin Henderson, brother of former Terp star, E.J. Those three alone help an already good foundation that might be bowling without them.

The potential is more than there. Yes, no one associated with a good football team likes the dreaded P word, but it fits with a big, fast, inexperienced receiving corps that, even without Vernon Davis, has the p-p-p-po ...capability to be a strength as the year goes on. The line should be better, the backfield should be great, the quarterback situation should sort itself out with a few good options, and the defense should be even better than last year if a steady pass rusher can be found to help tackle Conrad Boiston.

So now it becomes about beating the good ACC teams, especially in the Atlantic Division after going 1-4 last year. The coaching staff has stressed a sense of urgency. The players have been practicing with the intensity to get back to winning again. Now we see if Maryland football can be the real deal again.

The Schedule: Outside of a road trip to West Virginia, the season starts off nice and easy with wins already put in the bank against William & Mary, MTSU and FIU before nasty dates at Georgia Tech and Virginia to start the ACC season. On the plus side, four of the final six games are at home including three against Atlantic Division foes. However, two of those home games are against Florida State and Miami.

Best Offensive Player: Senior RB Josh Allen. Lance Ball will likely be the opening day starter and he could hang on to the job giving the offense steady production. That means Allen will be fresh. The senior is back from a knee injury suffered in 2004 and is 100%. With his home run hitting ability, he adds a dimension lacking from the attack last year.

Best Defensive Player: Senior CB Josh Wilson. There might not be a better open-field tackling corner in the ACC. He's 5-10, 182 pounds, and finished fourth on the team with 73 stops while also becoming the team's best coverman. He has the speed and skills to play on Sunday.

Key player to a successful season: Senior QB Sam Hollenbach. Or Jordan Steffy, or Bobby Sheahin, or Chris Turner, or (for next year) Josh Portis. Maryland got decent play out of Hollenbach last season, but there were too many interceptions and not enough big plays to anyone not named Vernon Davis. With the baby-young receiving corps to deal with, Hollenbach has to be razor sharp right off the bat.

The season will be a success if ... The Terps win eight games and beats at least one really, really good team. A win at West Virginia would immediately signal that things have turned back around, but home wins over Florida State and Miami would be more important. They're still about a year away from seriously challenging for the ACC title, so this has to be a positive-step sort of a season.

Key game: Nov. 4 at Clemson. Maryland needs the tough division road win in Death Valley to have any hope of winning the Atlantic. Clemson should be a contender for the ACC title and is sandwiched in between Florida State and Miami on the Terp schedule. With a trip to Boston College to finish up the four game run, a loss at Clemson could also mean a possible four-game losing streak late in the year.

2005 Fun Stats: 
Touchdown passes: Maryland 15 - Opponents 4
- Maryland opponent scoring: 3rd quarter: 48 - 4th quarter 118
- Punt return average: Opponents 12.6 - Maryland 5.9

The Last Time Maryland…
…played in a bowl game…2003 (Gator Bowl vs. West Virginia)
…missed a bowl game…2005
…pitched a shutout…2003 (Citadel)
…was shutout…2004 (Virginia)
…scored 50 points…2004 (Duke)
…went undefeated…1951
…won a conference title…2001 (ACC)
…had a 3,000-yard passer…1993 (Scott Milanovich)
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…2002 (Chris Downs)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…1992 (Marcus Badgett)
…had a first-round draft choice…2006 (TE Vernon Davis)

Related Stories
Maryland Preview 2006 - Offense
 -by  Jul 31, 2006
Maryland Preview 2006 Further Analysis
 -by  Jul 31, 2006
Maryland Preview 2006 - Depth Chart
 -by  Jul 31, 2006

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