Preview No. 5: Maryland Terrapins

This is the fifth in a series of articles previewing Ohio State’s 12 opponents for the 2014 season.

Maryland head coach Randy Edsall. (Photo courtesy of The Washington Post)

Maryland head coach Randy Edsall. (Photo courtesy of The Washington Post)

For Ohio State’s conference opener, the Buckeyes travel to College Park to take on Maryland, the Terrapins first Big Ten home game at Byrd Stadium. The start time and television coverage for the game have yet to be announced.

Last Season:

Maryland finished 7-6 overall and 3-5 in the Atlantic Coast Conference’s Atlantic Division. The seven wins were against Florida International (43–10), Old Dominion (47–10), Connecticut (32–21), West Virginia (37–0), Virginia (27–26), Virginia Tech (27–24, OT), and N.C. State (41–21). The six losses were to Florida State (63-0), Wake Forest (34-10), Clemson (40-27), Syracuse (20-3), Boston College (29-26), and Marshall (31-20) in the 2013 Military Bowl.

History & Coaches:

Known as Maryland Agricultural College at the time, the school fielded its first football team in 1892 and for next 15 years played mainly against small local colleges and high schools.

In 1907, South Atlantic Intercollegiate Athletic Association was formed and Maryland Agricultural College was one of its charter members along with Clemson, Davidson, George Washington, Georgetown, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Richmond, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and the College of William & Mary.

In 1911, Charley Donnelly began the season as the Aggies’ head coach. But Donnelly resigned after seven games with a 2-4-1 mark as his team was decimated with injuries. The school then reached out to Harry C. “Curley” Byrd, who was the head coach at Western High School in Georgetown at the time to finish out the year and went 2-0-1.

Byrd’s hiring was significant. During his tenure as head football coach from 1911 to 1934, he compiled a 119–82–15 record and saw the completion of a 5,000-seat stadium in 1923 that was named in his honor.

In 1916, Maryland Agricultural College became known as Maryland State College. Just four years later in 1920, the institution took on its current name, the University of Maryland.

During his first decade as head coach, Maryland had a record of 51-22-4 under Byrd.

In 1921, Maryland left the South Atlantic Intercollegiate Athletic Association to join the newly formed Southern Conference that consisted of Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Mississippi State, North Carolina, North Carolina State, Tennessee, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Washington and Lee University. One year later, six more universities joined the conference including the Florida, Louisiana State, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tulane and Vanderbilt.

The 1931 season was Byrd’s best, guiding the Terrapins to an 8-1-1 overall mark. But Maryland’s best finish in the Southern Conference came in 1934, Byrd’s last as head coach, when the Terps tied for second at 3-1.

After Byrd quit as head coach to focus on his job as President of the University of Maryland, there was seven different coaching changes from 1935 to 1946. Byrd even hired Paul “Bear” Bryant in 1945, but Bryant only lasted one season in College Park leading the Terrapins to a 6-2-1 record. History suggests that Byrd and Bryant never got along. One incident while Bryant was on vacation, Byrd reinstated a player who had been suspended by Bryant for a violation of team rules. Bryant later left Maryland to take over as head coach at the University of Kentucky.

In 1946, Byrd hired Jim Tatum as the school’s next head coach. At Maryland, Tatum compiled a 73–15–4 record for an .815 winning percentage. Maryland went undefeated during the 1951 season at 10–0 and were co-champions of the Southern Conference with VMI at 5-0. The Terrapins then upset top-ranked Tennessee 28-13 in the 1952 Sugar Bowl.

In 1953, Maryland joined the new Atlantic Coast Conference with Clemson, Duke, North Carolina, North Carolina State, South Carolina, Virginia and Wake Forest. Also that year, the team went 10-1 overall and claimed the ACC title at 4-0 while winning a national title, even though the Terrapins lost to Oklahoma, 7-0, in the 1954 Orange Bowl.

During his tenure from 1947-1955, Tatum was voted AFCA Coach of the Year in 1951 with three conference championships and played in five bowl games before leaving to become the head coach at North Carolina, his alma mater, in 1956.

From 1956-1971, Maryland had just three winning season under five different head coaches. That all changed when Jerry Claiborne was hired away from Virginia Tech in 1972. Prior to his arrival in College Park, the Terrapins had only won nine games in the previous five years.

In 10 season guiding the Terrapins, Claiborne led Maryland to a 77–37–3 record that included an undefeated regular season in 1976 before losing to Houston, 30-21, in the 1977 Cotton Bowl. In all, the Terrapins won three ACC titles and appeared in seven bowl games, winning two under Claiborne, who then followed in the footsteps of Bear Bryant and became the head coach at Kentucky, his alma mater.

Next, Bobby Ross was hired to replace Claiborne after spending four seasons as an assistant for the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs. He lasted five years at Maryland and had a record of 39-19-1 with three ACC championships and four bowl appearances before quitting amidst major turmoil within the Maryland athletic department and became the head coach at Georgia Tech the following year.

From 1987 to 2000, three different head coaches led the Maryland program – Joe Krivak, Mark Duffner, and Ron Vanderlinden – and none of the three had much success as during that time as the Terrapins went 55–88 overall with only two winning seasons and one bowl appearance.

In 2001, Ralph Friedgen, a former Maryland player and assistant under Ross, was hired as Vanderlinden’s replacement. When he took over, the Terrapins had not won a bowl game in 16 years and had only one winning season since 1990.

In Friedgen’s first season, Maryland went 10-2 and won the ACC title as the Terrapins went to their first BCS bowl game losing to Florida, 56-23, in the 2002 Orange Bowl.

In the following two years, Friedgen became the only ACC head coach to lead his team to 10 or more wins in each of his first three seasons. But after back-to-back 5-6 campaigns in 2004 and 2005, Friedgen found himself on the hot seat.

For the next five seasons, Friedgen’s Maryland squads were very inconsistent. In 2006, 2008 and 2010, the Terrapins finished with winning records of 9-4, 8-5, and 9-4 respectfully. But during the odd years, Maryland was 6-7 in 2007 and 2-10 in 2009. Following the 2010 campaign, the athletic department bought out the last year of Friedgen’s contract for $2 million citing lack of fan support. That season, Maryland averaged just 39,167 fans in a stadium that has a capacity of 54,000.

On January 2, 2011, Maryland hired Randy Edsall, who had been the head coach at Connecticut for twelve seasons from 1999–2010 with an overall mark 74-70. In three seasons at College Park, Edsall is 13-24 leading the Terrapins.

Offense:

Nine starters on offense return from a group that was 84th in scoring in FBS football averaging 26.2 points oper game, and 75th in total offense averaging 396.9 yards per contest.

Fifth-year senior quarterback C.J. Brown returns, who made 11 starts last year and became the first Terp to pass for 2,000 or more yards and rush for 500 or more yards in a single season. In those 11 games, Brown completed 166 of 282 (58.9%) of his throws for 2,242 yards with 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also rushed for 576 yards on 140 attempts and 12 more scores.

Including Brown, Maryland returns its top-five rushers and 458 of its 462 carries from last season with junior running back Brandon Ross, who carried the rock a team-high 166 times for 776 yards and four TDs in 2013. Junior RB Albert Reid joins Ross as one of the primary options in the Terrapin backfield after rushing for 294 yards on 70 carries and two touchdowns last season.

The Terrapins may have one of the deepest and most experienced receiving corps in the nation with nine players returning who caught a pass a season ago. In terms of receptions, Maryland returns its top-six pass catchers and will welcome back Stefon Diggs and Deon Long, who both missed the final six games of 2013 due to injury. Through seven games, Diggs had 34 receptions for 587 yards with an average of 17.3 yards per catch and 3 TDs. Also in the first seven games last season, Long hauled in 32 passes for 489 yards and one touchdown. After season-ending injuries to Diggs and Long, junior WR Levern Jacobs emerged as Maryland’s top target in 2013 and led the team in receptions (47) and yards (640) with three touchdowns.

Maryland returns four of its five starters along the offensive line and the group has combined for 76 career appearances helping Maryland pass for over 3,000 yards last season for the first time since 1994. Senior center Sal Conaboy is the veteran among the group having appeared in 27 career games with 22 starts and is a Rimington Trophy watch list member. At the tackles, the Terps also return junior Ryan Doyle and sophomore Michael Dunn, along with junior Andrew Zeller at right guard.

Defense:

Last year, Maryland was 55th in scoring defense yielding 25.23 points per game, and was 44th in total defense at 374.4 yards allowed per outing with a unit that returns nine more starters.

Along the defensive line, Maryland returns all three of its starters with senior Andre Moore, senior Darius Kilgo, and junior Quinton Jefferson. Monroe anchors one end for the Terrapins and totaled a team-best 9.5 sacks and 17 tackles for loss last season. Kilgo has started 23 of Maryland’s last 25 games along the interior of the defensive line and added 37 tackles with a career-best 6.5 TFLs in 2013. Jefferson started all 13 games last season and was the top tackler along the defensive line totaling 47 tackles including 7.5 TFLs and three sacks.

The Terps return three of their top four tacklers from a year ago with senior Cole Farrand at one of the LB spots. Farrand had a career-best 84 tackles, which ranked second on the team, along with 4.5 TFLs. Also at one of the middle linebacker spots, senior L.A. Goree was third on the team with 75 stops. On the outside, senior Matt Robins was fourth on the team in tackles with 73, and third on the team in tackles for loss with 10.0.

In the secondary, Maryland returns two safeties and a second-year cornerback. At safety, junior Sean Davis posted a team-best 102 tackles as a sophomore and finished with two interceptions, while junior Anthony Nixon played in 11 games and finished sixth on the team with a 60 tackles including 3.0 TFL. Senior cornerback Jeremiah Johnson returns after missing most of the 2013 season with an injury.