So around this time last year, these were my thoughts on the Terps:
I currently live in the D.C. area, right in the midst of Maryland's ACC market area. I drive by the Beltway exit for the campus daily on the way to work. In theory, I should be saturated in coverage of the Terps.
I don't know a thing about this team.
Maryland hasn't made it any easier, though. The team beats Rutgers one week, and is blown out by Clemson in another. Beats Georgia Tech but loses to Virginia. And no, I don't care what Virginia's record is - the Cavs lost to State.
And this year? The team that loses to Middle Tennessee, beats Cal. Shuts out Wake and went scoreless against Virginia. They hobbled a powerful Clemson running game (for a half, at least), and then let Virginia Tech's Darren Evans, who had never cracked 100 yards, rack up 258. I'm beginning to suspect Friegden just picks a team at random every week.
There are a couple of common denominators, though:
- The Terps play better at home. Those MTSU, UVa and Virginia Tech losses? They were three of Maryland's four road games to date. The other was the trip to Clemson, where the Terps fell behind after giving up 204 yards on the ground in the first half.
- That Darrius Heyward-Bey kid is pretty good. He has twice the receiving yardage of any other player on the team, but only has 30 receptions. Either the team doesn't know to look to him, or he can be easily covered. The UNC secondary has wrangled tougher wideouts, and should be able to do so here.
- Da'Rel Scott hasn't been the same since the shoulder injury against Cal. The running back racked up 507 yards in his first three games, but since conference play began he's run for less than 40 in three of five contests. UNC's done a good job of bottling running games in the last few weeks, and if they can avoid another Scott explosion like against N.C. State, they'll be sitting pretty.
- The defense isn't much to write home about. The Terps are middle of the pack or worse in most statistical categories. The UNC offense has to take advantage of that - if they can get a solid lead under their belt and then let the Heels' defense take over, it should make for a pleasant afternoon.