Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Season wrap-up: Maryland
By ESPN.com staff
Hints of a disappointing season were revealed early when the Terps needed overtime to beat James Madison and lost for the second straight year to Middle Tennessee -- this time at home. After a still inexplicable 24-21 win over ACC-runner up Clemson, Maryland finished the season with seven straight losses and coach Ralph Friedgen’s future was in limbo.
As the losses increased, attendance decreased. According to the Washington Times, Maryland's average home crowd was 44,452, the lowest since Friedgen's first season, and Maryland's ticket revenue fell $600,000. Maryland’s 2-10 finish was the worst in Friedgen’s tenure, and he has gone 35-38 in the past six seasons. Still, athletic director Debbie Yow decided to retain Friedgen for both financial reasons and because she said she thinks he is capable of filling the seats again and a winning season in 2010.
Maryland's struggles on the offensive the line were the heart of its problems this year, as the Terps ranked 110th in the country in sacks allowed, with three per game. Quarterback Chris Turner was eventually sidelined with an injury, and Maryland finished with the nation's 105th rushing offense. The Terps finished 103rd in the nation in total offense, and 99th in scoring offense. It didn't help that leading rusher Da'Rel Scott missed most of the season with a wrist injury.
Offensive MVP: Torrey Smith. He led the Terps in receptions (61), receiving yards (824) and touchdowns (5). He also broke his own ACC single-season kickoff return yards mark (1,309) and smashed the Maryland single-season all-purpose yards record (2,192). Smith is already fifth in school history in career all-purpose yards (3,617).
Defensive MVP: Alex Wujciak. Wujciak is currently second in the ACC and eighth nationally in tackles (10.9 per game). He racked up 131 tackles to become the first Maryland defender to post more than 125 stops (133 in 2008) in back-to-back years since E.J. Henderson in ’01 and ‘02. He also made double-digit tackles in 17 of his last 22 games and set the Maryland single-season interception return yards record (152) this year.
Turning point: The injury to Nolan Carroll in the second game against James Madison had a lasting impact on a defense in transition under first-year coordinator Don Brown. Not that Carroll was going to change 2-10 to 10-2, but he was by far the Terps' best cover corner, which is key in Brown’s attacking system. Instead of playing mostly press man, Maryland ended up playing a lot of zone.
What’s next: Friedgen still hasn’t announced any staff changes, but after a two-win season, some changes need to be made. The top priority right now should be in recruiting, where the Terps have fallen short, particularly on both the offensive and defensive lines. They also need to rebuild the depth at quarterback.