P Adam Podlesh (PHOTO: Maryland Athletics)

2004 Statistics

Coach: Ralph Friedgen
36-14, 4 years
2004 Record: 5-6
at West Virginia LOST 16-19
at Duke WON 55-21
at Clemson LOST 7-10
at Virginia LOST 0-16
at Virginia Tech LOST 6-55

2004 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2005 Outlook

For each of the first three seasons of Ralph Friedgen's tenure at College Park (since 2001), he managed a 10-win season. But 2004 saw the Terps sitting at home for the holidays after barely winning just half of the usual total (five wins). Although his recruiting classes far exceed those seen before his start, he is still dealing with depth issues. So many holes, though, still need to be filled with talented, but, inexperienced faces - from ball carriers to blockers to defensive front liners to pass coverage skill people - that the focus has to come back to him sometime if success doesn't soon displace the current scrutiny.

Terrapin troubles seem to be offensive. Locally, you can hear the usual blame being placed on the QB situation. You know…the backup is always the favorite…the grass is always greener, that kind of thing. Before considering how bad the quarterback situation has gotten, first understand…Ralph Friedgen must run the ball to be successful. That's his system, whether it is up the middle, around the end, via the option or by a QB scrambling. If this failure of 2004 does not do an about face, expect the Terps to once again struggle versus the more sturdy defenses around the league. The OL will likely find itself a cohesive unit that can open holes as well as provide some better pass protection, and this must be accomplished with some new, youthful faces. We think the turnover should be good to shake up what was a liability, but no guarantees. Defensively, the Terps have everything it takes to win, assuming the offense does not waste defensive efforts by turning the ball over.

Crucial road games which Maryland lost in '04 now are home games (Clemson, West Virginia, Virginia Tech), while the rematch of their biggest win in over four decades now becomes a revenge game in Tallahassee. No one avoids a tough schedule anymore in the ACC, especially with upstart Boston College joining the new Atlantic Division. Don't expect the opener versus Navy to be the same all-senior Navy team that bowled over opponents just a season ago as is the same when WVU visits. In other words, Maryland will be favored in all three non-con match ups.

In short…a final Q & A section. Can Maryland achieve another 10-win season? No, not even close. Can Maryland make a bowl game this year (meaning at least 6-5)? Yes, anything less will be just as disappointing as last year. Can Maryland win the Atlantic Division and get to Jacksonville for the conference title game? Yes, Maryland has now proven it can play with teams such as the usually favored Florida State, but a ten-win season is not necessary to make a run at their new Division's title, offensive consistency is. If the Terrapins can be more consistent in terms of playing with heart and focus, and the injury bug settles, there is no reason an ACC Championship Game invitation is out of the question. With some better QB play and blocking up front, a few more wins are likely…and that may be all that is needed to steal the Atlantic crown. "And the whistle is screaming…"

Projected 2005 record: 6-5
QB - 2.5 DL - 2.5
RB - 2.5 LB - 4
WR - 3 DB - 3.5
OL - 3 ..

Passing: Joel Statham, 234-126-15, 1590 yds., 8 TD

Rushing: Mario Merrills, 33 att., 124 yds., 1 TD

Receiving: Derrick Fenner, 35 rec., 430 yds., 2 TD

Scoring: Vernon Davis, 3 TD, 18 pts.

Punting: Adam Podlesh, 63 punts, 43.7 avg.

Kicking: none

Tackles: D'Qwell Jackson, 123 tot., 63 solo

Sacks: D'Qwell Jackson, 4 sacks

D'Qwell Jackson, 2 for 36 yds.

Kickoff Returns: Jo Jo Walker, 11 ret., 18.5 avg., 0 TD

Punt Returns: David Holloway, 1 ret., 12.0 avg., 0 TD


WR Derrick Fenner (PHOTO: Maryland Athletics)
OFFENSE: Sammy Maldonado-TB, Maurice Smith-FB, Steve Suter-WR/PR/KR, Rich Parson-WR, Rob Abiamiri-HB, C.J. Brooks-OG, Kyle Schmitt-C, Lou Lombardo-OT, Nick Novak-K, Josh Allen-TB (injured)
DEFENSE: Kevin Eli-DE, Henry Scott-NT, Domonique Foxworth-CB, Chris Kelley-SS, Ray Custis-FS, Shawne Merriman-DE (NFL)

The one aspect that will literally spell the difference between a bowl contender and another six-loss campaign would be this unit's achievement. This is no secret in College Park. Is it going to be Statham or Steffy, Steffy or Statham? Well now you can add the name Hollenbach to the mix, making this three-man race as wide open as it has been here in quite some time. The race could have included four, but local DeMatha High School prep star Ryan Mitch has quit the team. You get the picture - lots of talent, only one job opening. At times last fall, both Joel Statham (10-game starter) and true freshman Jordan Steffy (coming off the bench) looked totally lost. Desperate for something to salvage here, coaches threw dice and saw Sam Hollenbach have a solid outing (win over Wake Forest). This put him in a position to now challenge for the job. Statham knows the system better, and he also has good size and possesses the needed physical skills. Hollenbach is not quite as mobile and lacks arm strength, but his decision-making and timing are better. Jordan Steffy came in carrying a great deal of prep press, but, as expected, his first year of collegiate ball was a difficult transition - his physical tools couldn't overcome the (lack of) mental capabilities for someone of his age. All three will take snaps with the first team this spring, though the starter won't be known until late into August. Any announcement sooner would mean one of them has broken away to shine, a great sign for Terp fans if it can come true. Moreover, look for early struggles to this time pay off by campaign's end.

Running Back
This will be the first spring in quite some time the Terps do not have a clear-cut RB, as both fullback and tailback are totally up for grabs. Much of this has to do with (returning lead rusher) Josh Allen likely having to sit out '05 with a severe knee injury suffered the last game of 2004…a tough blow, but he still has a redshirt season available. The current battle for top TB is now between two homegrown talents, senior Mario Merrills (Columbia) and sophomore Keon Lattimore (Owings Mills), brother of current Baltimore Ravens' star Ray Lewis. Also keep an eye on unsung youngster Lance Ball, the most underrated of the bunch. Only his fumbling habit needs work; his slippery fingers are the thing that kept him from seeing more reps. Merrills is more of a 'North-South' type runner (not as shifty), but he does possess a speed factor (one of the three fastest Terps). Lattimore is the big physical specimen, with both speed and vision that Maryland has not seen in a long time, while Ball is more of a bruising power back. The FB is used very little in this scheme in terms of carries, but the position at least has the best depth on this side of the rock, so the choices are many when needed. This may be the next-most-watched position battle of spring, though the outcome won't be nearly as scrutinized as the QB choice.

Maryland must find new heroes to step up and take the spotlight here. The WR position has needed this for some time, and with a new position coach taking over as well (Bryan Bossard), expect names to emerge quickly. Key losses can be noted with Steve Suter and Rich Parson departing; however, experience exists with Derrick Fenner and Jo Jo Walker. Fenner was the team's top pass catcher of 2004. Look for both of these senior veterans to be heavily counted on as the leaders of the group, though both have size issues when up against big corners. This will likely mean they fall into playing the possession roles needed with still-emerging QBs. Other exciting possibilities are Danny Melendez (deep threat), who was hampered all of last fall with a hamstring, and Drew Weatherly. Neither has met expectations, but both are big bodies who show a great upside. Silver Spring frosh Darius-Heyward Bey and his speed (4.38-sec 40) will find the field come September. Plenty of talent exists for this unit to be the surprise needed to spark the QB's level of play.

Offensive Line
Two former all-ACC selections and several other reserves have moved on for various reasons, leaving the Terps with another offseason project and youth as their only material for rebuilding. On the positive side, according to coaches, this may be the most athletic group UM has seen this decade. At left tackle, all-ACC candidate Stephon Heyer will be one of two seniors to anchor and lead this group. After giving up 22 team sacks, his protection on the developing QB's blind side becomes most crucial. Fifth-year senior guard Russell Bonham is up for a breakout season after displaying flashes of promise, but recurring knee problems have been a major distraction. Hopes are high, with newcomers Brandon Nixon, Scott Burley, Jared Gaither and Jaimie Thomas - all highly recruited four-star labels- ready to shine. This unit will manage to achieve better than 2004's 2.9 per carry and 12 TDs, but how much better they are than last year's effort (108th-ranked total offense) will go a long way towards defining this campaign.

Tight End
The Terps will rotate players here depending on the formation. TEs are mostly used for blocking while H-Backs are used more in the passing package, and Maryland will even line up in a two-tight end formation. Considered by many to be the biggest prized thoroughbred wearing a Terrapin uniform is H-back Vernon Davis, the team's most physically gifted athlete (4.5 speed; 6'5" high jump) on either side of the ball. Look for Davis to line up at TE and/or slide out to (slot) receiver after he led the team in receiving yards and TD catches while only starting five games. Larger Derek Miller will be a regular tight end with three years of reps upon which to rely.

The men tossing the pigskin last season were at times beyond ghastly, as they ranked ninth in the conferences' rushing and passing stats. It does not take rocket science to understand Ralph Friedgen's offensive system and how to make it work, but it does require taking a team approach. Most important is the sequencing - for the passing game to function with average QBs, first the ground dimensions must work. Accordingly, a new go-to RB must be found and (then) one of last season's QBs must emerge far improved. Plenty of quality receivers are available, just no one to get them the ball…yet. It will be another disturbing season if the backfield does not step up.


TE Vernon Davis (PHOTO: Maryland Athletics)


Returning Starters/
Key Players
QB Sam Hollenbach-Jr (6-5, 217) Joel Statham-Jr (6-1, 220)
Jordan Steffy-So (6-1, 220)
FB Ricardo Dickerson-Sr (6-1, 251) Tim Cesa-So (6-1, 239)
TB Mario Merrills-Sr (5-10, 202) Keon Lattimore-So (5-11, 226)
Lance Ball-So (5-9, 219)
WR Derrick Fenner-Sr (5-11, 191) Drew Weatherly-Jr (6-3, 207)
WR Jo Jo Walker-Sr (5-9, 164) Danny Melendez-Sr (6-2, 171)
TE Vernon Davis-Jr (6-3, 250) Derek Miller-Sr (6-8, 268)
OT Stephon Heyer-Sr (6-6, 321) Dane Randolph-Fr (6-5, 276)
OG Donnie Woods-So (6-3, 291) Jaimie Thomas-Fr (6-5, 333)
C Andrew Crummey-So (6-5, 292) Edwin Williams-Fr (6-4, 219)
OG Russell Bonham-Sr (6-2, 315) Garrick Clig-So (6-3, 296)
OT Brandon Nixon-So (6-6, 310) Scott Burley-So (6-6, 315)
K Dan Enis-Jr (6-0, 151) Obi Egekeze-Fr (6-3, 206)


Defensive Line
Maryland utilizes a position called LEO, which in essence is a cross between a strong side LB and a DE. The player coaches most want here is Jeris Smith, who is coming off foot surgery. Smith, a former walk-on, split time between SLB and LEO, but injuries made last fall quite a disappointment. Look for the highly touted redshirt freshman Trey Covington to push for the start at LEO, though he needs to bulk up from 230. Much like the OL, depth is via a youth movement, but this unit's strength is the athletic ability and speed of the group as a whole, not its size. Nose tackle Rob Armstrong is the most experienced and the team's top bull-rusher, but is struggling to recover fully by September (bulging disk). Senior DT Conrad Bolston is the anchor after starting since his freshman year, but he, too, struggled as last season progressed. Look for incoming freshman all-American DE Melvin Alaeze (4.5 speed) to soon require two hats to be fully contained. We admire the upgrades soon to be seen, but how long the transition takes to reveal these quality DLmen will ripple through the rest of the D.

Make no mistake…this is Maryland's best unit as the starters will return (eventually) intact. Second-team NationalChamps.net all-American LB D'Qwell Jackson and his amazing tackling prowess will continue to offer a fearsome presence in the middle. Jackson will miss contact drills this spring with wrist surgery, giving coaches plenty of time to fill the back-up issue(s) at hand. Some movement is bound to happen with all of the talent here. David Holloway anchors at SAM (strongside). His sleek physicality brings a well-disciplined combination ability to effectively (pass) rush on blitzes and cover the pass. On the weak side, William Kershaw has become one of the rising stars here, coming on exceptionally strong at 2004's end. He is continuing this progress by being noted for his dedicated work out nature. Of course, Kershaw has to be good to hold off Wesley Jefferson, one of the most prized recruits UM has on its roster - the consensus No. 1 prep linebacker in the country out of nearby Brandywine, MD. Wesley uses his speed well, but couldn't fully develop due to an ankle injury. Jefferson could also slide over to the middle if and when needed. Depth is as plentiful now as LB's Coach Tim Banks has ever seen at College Park, with freshman like Erin Henderson (brother of two-time Terp All-American E.J. Henderson) turning heads, too.

Defensive Back
The secondary of a year ago has, similar to last offseason, been dismantled. Secondary reconstruction is a common theme under coordinator Gary Blackney, and the revamping has so far worked fabulously (pass defense ranked 8th; nation's second best by allowing only 7 aerial scores). The CB spots are more secured than their iffy safety spots because upperclassmen Josh Wilson and Gerrick McPhearson return. McPhearson is one of the team's most athletic players at any skill position (10 pass breakups). But neither had an INT, though Wilson did cause two fumbles. The bad news…depth behind them is based on a couple of redshirt freshman that have yet to see the field. Look for some experiments to occur this off-season with so much youth, especially at safety with guys like future star Chris Varner, who was forced to learn early on the job last year as a freshman, and Notre Dame-transfer Isaiah Gardner. Marcus Wimbush, coming back after dealing with injury problems his whole career, would really offer a boost if ready. These guys can all be left to cover without LBs need be, but given the speedy talent of the corps, look for this unit to again shine - they can either press effectively or hone in to finish as they keep the play in front of them. Any way you slice it, foes will run first, no doubt.

Maryland's defense has stood its ground over the past under the direction of defensive coordinator Gary Blackney. He will be dealing with depth problems up front and in the secondary in terms of inexperience. But do not mistake inexperience with a lack of talent. To no great surprise, D'Qwell Jackson is the superstar reaping awards in the pre and post-seasons, and the LB corps surrounding him will somewhat carry the entire defense, especially at first. Last season's D returned only three starters, and since they only bring five back this time, expect the worst - that is, for things to drop off marginally, not disastrously - and be happy when they come close to 2004's 21st- (total defense) ranking. The real question is: can this side of the ball (if it comes down to it, and it very well may) again win games for the Terps?


LB D'Qwell Jackson (PHOTO: Maryland Athletics)


Returning Starters/
Key Players
DE Omar Savage-So (6-5, 258) Mack Frost-Fr (6-5, 262)
DT Conrad Bolston-Jr (6-3, 284) Jack Griffin-So (6-6, 267)
NT Rob Armstrong-Jr (6-4, 314) Dre Moore-So (6-4, 296)
DE Jermaine Lemons-So (6-1, 248) Trey Covington-Fr (6-3, 235)
SLB David Holloway-Jr (6-2, 222) Jeris Smith-Jr (6-2, 236)
MLB D'Qwell Jackson-Sr (6-0, 223) Wesley Jefferson-So (6-1, 234)
WLB William Kershaw-Sr (6-3, 227) Erin Henderson-Fr (6-4, 233)
CB Gerrick McPhearson-Sr (5-10, 194) Kevin Barnes-Fr (6-1, 172)
CB Josh Wilson-Jr (5-9, 183) Richard Taylor-Fr (5-10, 193)
SS Isaiah Gardner-So (5-11, 199) Marcus Wimbush-Jr (5-11, 205)
Milton Harris-Sr (5-11, 197)
FS Chris Varner-So (5-11, 195) J.J. Justice-So (6-1, 221)
P Adam Podlesh-Jr (5-11, 193) ..




Nick Novak, the ACC's all-time leading scorer, let inconsistency at crucial times hurt this team (NC State, Clemson). The kicking position is not as muddled as it may appear since Dan Ennis and Obi Egekeze can both get the job adequately done. Look for a battle that continues all the way until Labor Day weekend. Ennis, the former walk-on, appears more accurate at close range, while Egekeze has the stronger leg. Kershaw's two blocked kicks continue a great legacy this way under Friedgen. Conversely, coverage on kicks was abysmal, so work is cut out here for special teams coach Rychleski.

We're not quite sure what they put in the UM water, but punters sporting the Terrapin helmet have been quite successful. Possessing huge leg strength (43+ average), Adam Podlesh continues this tradition and is considered to be one of the nation's tops. His ability allowed the net results to rank seventh for al of I-A, a huge field-position win (that kept them in games last year) they must again achieve with the sure struggles on offense.

Return Game
Jo Jo Walker, a slot receiver, now is handed the baton for returning both kicks and punts. Walker has played the role before to mixed reviews, so alternatives will be found "quickly" if his KO average is again near 18.5. Behind him are a slew of options including Derrick Fenner, huge RB Keon Lattimore, Josh Wilson, lightning-fast Darius-Heyward Bey, and Drew Weatherly. Look for split duties between the two return posts.