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Terrapins envision return to 10-win form after down season

When Ralph Friedgen took the head coaching position at Maryland in 2001, he adopted a 5-6 football team which hadn’t finished in the top four of the conference in a decade. In the first year under Friedgen’s tutelage, the Terps developed a high-powered offense that averaged 35 points per game, fueled Maryland’s first ACC championship since 1985 and secured a berth in the Bowl Championship Series.

After three seasons of 10 or more wins, the honeymoon ended for Friedgen and Maryland last season. In 2004, Maryland finished 5-6, and its offensive output was cut almost in half to a mere 17 points per game. No longer the offensive juggernaut, the defense had to be stingy to keep the Terps competitive, finishing the season 21st in the nation in total yards allowed and eighth in passing defense.

The defense should be a bright spot again for Maryland in 2005. The unit returns five starters including first-team All-American linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, who led the ACC in tackles last season. Jackson has been the anchor for the Maryland defense over the past two years, starting 24-straight games and totaling 259 tackles. Fellow returnees William Kershaw and David Holloway fill out a daunting linebacking trio that is expected to disrupt offenses throughout the conference.

Another hot topic among the Maryland faithful this preseason is the anticipation surrounding Sam Hollenbach’s promotion to starting quarterback after spending most of 2004 as a backup. By year’s end, however, Hollenbach had slipped into the starting role and posted a 13-7 victory over Wake Forest in the season finale. At 6-foot-5 and 218 pounds, Hollenbach is a sturdy athlete and the most physically strong quarterback in Maryland history.

“I see that he’s seeing things better; his decision making is very good; his accuracy is probably as good as we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Friedgen said. “The kids have a lot of confidence in him, because he is such a solid kid. I know he’ll do well.”

Returning tight end Vernon Davis will provide a solid target for Hollenbach’s passes. An outstanding athlete, Davis has lined up for the Terps at halfback, wide receiver, fullback and tight end. Though he only started five games, Davis led the Terps last season in receiving yards (441) and touchdown catches (3). Looking to improve on a breakout sophomore season, Davis could evolve into one of the elite tight ends in the country.

“We had a good camp,” Friedgen said. “I think we made some good progress. We’ll have to see just how much progress on Saturday. I am a little nervous because I don’t know how this team will respond, but I think they’ve worked hard, and they’ve had a good camp.”

The chronicle

When Ralph Friedgen took the head coaching position at Maryland in 2001, he adopted a 5-6 football team which hadn’t finished in the top four of the conference in a decade. In the first year under Friedgen’s tutelage, the Terps developed a high-powered offense that averaged 35 points per game, fueled Maryland’s first ACC championship since 1985 and secured a berth in the Bowl Championship Series.

After three seasons of 10 or more wins, the honeymoon ended for Friedgen and Maryland last season. In 2004, Maryland finished 5-6, and its offensive output was cut almost in half to a mere 17 points per game. No longer the offensive juggernaut, the defense had to be stingy to keep the Terps competitive, finishing the season 21st in the nation in total yards allowed and eighth in passing defense.

The defense should be a bright spot again for Maryland in 2005. The unit returns five starters including first-team All-American linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, who led the ACC in tackles last season. Jackson has been the anchor for the Maryland defense over the past two years, starting 24-straight games and totaling 259 tackles. Fellow returnees William Kershaw and David Holloway fill out a daunting linebacking trio that is expected to disrupt offenses throughout the conference.

Another hot topic among the Maryland faithful this preseason is the anticipation surrounding Sam Hollenbach’s promotion to starting quarterback after spending most of 2004 as a backup. By year’s end, however, Hollenbach had slipped into the starting role and posted a 13-7 victory over Wake Forest in the season finale. At 6-foot-5 and 218 pounds, Hollenbach is a sturdy athlete and the most physically strong quarterback in Maryland history.

“I see that he’s seeing things better; his decision making is very good; his accuracy is probably as good as we’ve had since I’ve been here,” Friedgen said. “The kids have a lot of confidence in him, because he is such a solid kid. I know he’ll do well.”

Returning tight end Vernon Davis will provide a solid target for Hollenbach’s passes. An outstanding athlete, Davis has lined up for the Terps at halfback, wide receiver, fullback and tight end. Though he only started five games, Davis led the Terps last season in receiving yards (441) and touchdown catches (3). Looking to improve on a breakout sophomore season, Davis could evolve into one of the elite tight ends in the country.

“We had a good camp,” Friedgen said. “I think we made some good progress. We’ll have to see just how much progress on Saturday. I am a little nervous because I don’t know how this team will respond, but I think they’ve worked hard, and they’ve had a good camp.”

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