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Season recap: Maryland

12/6/2010

The Terps entered this season picked by the media to finish last in the Atlantic Division, and coach Ralph Friedgen’s job was on the line. Those within the program, still embarrassed by their 2009 2-10 finish, were determined not to let either of those things happen, and Maryland went on to finish 8-4 for the second-best turnaround in the FBS this year behind Miami (Ohio). Friedgen was named the ACC’s Coach of the Year, and quarterback Danny O’Brien was the leauge’s Rookie of the Year. The defense made significant strides in the second season under coordinator Don Brown, and the Terps were one of the best teams in the country in turnover margin.

Maryland was in position to win the Atlantic Division title, but a home loss to Florida State knocked the Terps out of the running. They rebounded on Senior Day, though, and played the role of spoiler in an impressive win against NC State.

Offensive MVP: Wide receiver Torrey Smith. In the win against NC State, Smith had career highs in receptions (14), receiving yards (224) and receiving touchdowns (4), which was also a school single-game record. Smith became the second Maryland player to post more than 1,000 receiving yards in a season (1,045), joining Marcus Badgett (1,240 in 1992). He is third on the school career receptions list with 150. He also holds the Maryland career all-purpose yards mark, passing Lamont Jordan (4,960, 1997-00).

Defensive MVP: Safety Kenny Tate. He is sixth in the ACC in tackles (7.8 per game), first in forced fumbles (0.33 pg) and tied for 12th in interceptions (0.25 pg). He is also the leader in sacks among ACC defensive backs (.32 per game).

Turning point: The season-opening 17-14 win against Navy. This was literally the beginning of the turnaround, and how Maryland fared in this game set the tone for the rest of the season. It was a quality win against a bowl team on the road, and in order for Maryland to reach the postseason, it needed to go 3-1 in the nonconference schedule with an expected loss to West Virginia. This win gave the team the confidence it needed to know this season could be different.

What’s next: Maryland will face East Carolina in the Military Bowl presented by Northrop Grumman. The Terps were hoping to get an invitation from the Champs Sports Bowl after their win against NC State, but officials chose the Wolfpack instead. The Terps are No. 9 in the nation in pass efficiency defense and will have to play like it against former Boston College quarterback Dominique Davis, who has thrown for 36 touchdowns and 3,699 yards, the fourth-most in the nation, while completing nearly 65 percent of his passes.