Midseason report: Maryland


Record: 4-2, 2-0

It is safe to call Maryland the most pleasant surprise to emerge in the ACC at the midway point of the season. After all, the Terps were not given much of a shot to compete this year, let alone contend for the ACC championship game, after they were picked to finish last in the Atlantic in the preseason media poll. That was before starting quarterback C.J. Brown went down for the season with a torn ACL. Things looked pretty bleak in College Park in August.

While the offense has indeed struggled with freshman quarterback Perry Hills and a nonexistent running game, the defense has been simply outstanding and a big reason why the Terps are leading their division right now. Maryland has thrived in the 3-4 scheme new coordinator Brian Stewart has installed and ranks No. 9 in the nation in rushing defense and total defense. This stat will tell you how much the defense has bailed the offense out: Maryland is ranked No. 110 in the nation in turnover margin. The Terps are the only team ranked No. 110 or lower with a winning record.

None of this is to stay Maryland is a perfect team. There are so many young players up and down this roster -- 19 true and redshirt freshmen have played this season for the Terps. That includes Hills, leading receiver Stefon Diggs and running backs Brandon Ross, Wes Brown and Albert Reid. Hills became the first true freshman starter at quarterback for Maryland since Latrez Harrison in 1999. Maryland is also starting two freshmen on the offensive line and a freshman at safety.

But this team is playing together and has gotten better as the year has gone on. At this point, it should not surprise anyone if Maryland ends up in a bowl game and coach Randy Edsall gets coach of the year consideration.

Offensive MVP: Diggs. The true freshman has been truly remarkable for the Terps this season, ranking No. 8 in the ACC with 21 catches for 453 yards and three touchdowns. He is averaging 21.6 yards per catch, tops among ACC receivers ranked in the top 10 in the league. But he does more than catch the ball -- Diggs leads the ACC in all-purpose yards as well (168.8 ypg), which ranks No. 9 in the nation.

Defensive MVP: Demetrius Hartsfield, LB. Hartsfield has been a tackling machine for the Terps, ranking No. 9 in the ACC with 51 total tackles (8.5 a game). He also has three sacks and two fumble recoveries to lead what has been a really solid defense so far this season.