COACH: Ralph Friedgen (64-36 in eight seasons).
LAST SEASON: 8-5 overall, 4-4 in ACC (tied for third in ACC Atlantic). Beat Nevada in the Humanitarian Bowl.
FINAL 2008 RIVALS.COM RANKING: 34th.
KEEP AN EYE ON: WR Torrey Smith set an ACC single-season record with 1,089 kickoff return yards last season. This season, he should make more of an impact on offense. Smith caught 24 passes for 336 yards last season, which makes him the Terps' top returning receiver. RB Davin Meggett showed plenty of big-play potential while rushing for 457 yards and four touchdowns as a true freshman. He should emerge as a nice complement to Da'Rel Scott in the backfield. Phil Costa, one of the Terps' only experienced offensive linemen, is shifting from guard to center.
STAR POWER: Scott ran for 1,133 yards last season and ranked second in the ACC with 94.4 rushing yards per game. He sat out the first half of the Humanitarian Bowl and still managed to gain 174 yards on just 14 carries. Maryland's inexperience on the line and the emergence of Meggett could prevent Scott from matching his 2008 totals, but he still should emerge as one of the ACC's most dangerous runners.
STRENGTHS: Scott and Meggett could give Maryland one of the nation's most effective running back tandems. Smith's presence ought to give the Terps a dangerous kick-return unit. P Travis Baltz should be one of the best in the nation at his position. Maryland's strength against ranked opponents last season shows that Friedgen has a way of getting his team fired up for big games.
WEAKNESSES: Maryland lost five of its top seven offensive linemen, including three-year starting C Edwin Williams. LT Bruce Campbell is the only returning starter on the line playing the same position he did last season. The losses of Dave Philistin, Moise Fokou, Chase Bullock and Rick Costa leave the Terps untested at linebacker. QB Chris Turner is a returning starter, but he has struggled with consistency for much of his career.
THE BUZZ: Maryland was one of the most unpredictable teams in the nation last season, as the Terps went 4-1 against teams ranked in The Associated Press poll yet also lost to Middle Tennessee, struggled to beat Delaware and got waxed 31-0 by Virginia. Maryland now must gain consistency after losing a bunch of experience. The Terps return six starters on offense and four on defense. Scott and Meggett are dynamic players, but how much running room will they find when the line is young and the passing game is lackluster? The answer to that question could determine whether Maryland earns a bowl bid. After opening on the road at California, Maryland plays its next four – and five of its next six – at home