Terps Exceeding Expectations In 2012
By Chris Garman
Expectations for the University of Maryland football team were low entering the 2012 campaign, because of players that graduated, transferred or suffered injuries after the 2011 season. But six games into the season, the Terps are 4-2 (2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) and are inching closer to becoming bowl eligible.
The Terps were projected to finish last in the ACC's Atlantic Division, according to the preseason media poll. And when junior quarterback C.J. Brown went down with an ACL injury during the preseason, it seemed as if the team was headed for another losing season. Freshman quarterback Perry Hills has taken the reins, and even though he has had his struggles, head coach Randy Edsall said Hills was thriving under pressure.
"One thing that is really interesting and what stood out to me is when you look at Perry Hills in the fourth quarter, he's 24 of 35 for 390 yards and two touchdowns," Edsall said. "So when the game is on the line, he is performing at his best, and again, very pleased about that."
The Terps have had success even though their offense ranks last in the ACC. But Hills has made steady improvements. After throwing three interceptions during the opening game against the College of William & Mary, he has thrown just two during the next five games.
The Terps have had success on the other side of the ball. Ranked ninth in the country in total defense, Maryland has benefited from numerous defenders stepping up each week. During the past two weeks, seniors Demetrius Hartsfield and Darin Drakeford have won ACC Linebacker of the Week.
"It's a group that really feeds off of each other and plays off of each other," Edsall said. "Everybody is committed to doing their job, doing it to the best of their ability. I think that's why we've had some success in the first six games."
The 2-0 start during ACC play is key for the Terps, especially when their final three games are against three of the better teams in the conference: North Carolina State (4-2, 1-1 ACC), Georgia Tech (2-4, 1-3) and Boston College (1-5, 0-3). Beating those teams would guarantee a bowl bid for the Terps, but if Maryland did emerge unscathed, the attention would shift to capturing their first ACC crown since 2001.
But that won't be easy with opponents such as No. 14 Florida State University (6-1, 3-1), No. 19 Clemson (5-1, 2-1) and North Carolina (5-2, 3-1).
But Edsall said he wasn't thinking about any of those possibilities right now.
"I haven't addressed that with our team at all," he said. "We have our goals that we have each and every year. The prizes that you have when you play this game are, first, winning your conference, and then if you win enough games, you get to a bowl. And those are things that you hope for each and every year.
"But to me, you can't look at the big picture until you address the small things first. You win a game, you put it in the bank, and you gain interest."
Posted Oct. 18, 2012