Maryland football vs. North Carolina: Previewing the game

November 23, 2012

(Associated Press)

THE INFO

Who: Terps (4-7, 2-5 ACC) at North Carolina (7-4, 4-3).

When: 3 p.m.

Where: Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, N.C.

TV: Comcast SportsNet in Washington area, check local listings elsewhere. The game also will be streamed on ESPN3.com in areas where it is not being televised.

DMV radio: WTEM (980 AM), WJZ (105.7 FM).

Satellite radio: XM Channel 198, Sirius Channel 94.

Coaches: Terps – Randy Edsall (second season, 6-17). Tar Heels – Larry Fedora (first season, 7-4)

Series: North Carolina leads 36-32-1. Terps have won five of last six.

THE SCRIPT

If last weekend’s 41-14 blowout loss to Florida State was the parting shot for Maryland’s 17 seniors at Byrd Stadium, then this time it’s for real. With the Terrapins’ bowl hopes snuffed out by the 10th-ranked Seminoles, Maryland heads into Chapel Hill looking to simply end a five-game losing streak. North Carolina will also miss a bowl game this season, but only because of a self-imposed bowl ban. The Tar Heels are certainly good enough, with a high-powered offense that ranks third in the ACC in addition to a scoring defense that ranks second. Maryland’s challenge grows even greater with linebacker Darin Drakeford out with a head injury and defensive lineman Joe Vellano doubtful with an ankle sprain, but these Terps are certainly no stranger to injuries this season. It’s how they respond that counts.

THE QUESTIONS

1. Play for pride? Wide receiver Kevin Dorsey, Maryland’s lone healthy captain, told his teammates this week to focus on one area of weakness and fix it against North Carolina. Since Maryland doesn’t have a postseason to look forward to, the Terps will play for self-improvement and pride, determined to not end the season on a six-game losing streak and limp into the offseason with a 4-8 record.

2. Pressure the pocket? Led by quarterback Bryn Renner (West Springfield) and running back Giovani Bernard, North Carolina has scored at least 43 points in five games this season. Without Drakeford and Vellano, who are tied for the team lead with six sacks apiece, the Terps will be hard-pressed to get pressure on Renner and disrupt the Tar Heels’ spread attack. But defensive coordinator Brian Stewart could get creative, emptying the arsenal for one last go-around in 2012 with disguises and fresh looks to help compensate for the absences.

3. Produce a big play? Shawn Petty and Dorsey twice hooked up against Florida State for touchdown passes, but one came in garbage time. Maryland will need more than that to keep pace with the Tar Heels. Stefon Diggs will be the main focus, capable of breaking one loose at any moment, but running back Brandon Ross has displayed speed on the sweep and Nigel King can get past the secondary on play-action. Any number of them will need big plays to help move an offense that ranks last in the Football Bowl Subdivision.  

THE STATS

109/23.5/12: Total tackles, tackles for a loss and sacks this season by Drakeford and Vellano combined.  

484.2: Yards per game averaged by North Carolina this season, more than 40 yards more than the school record, set in 1983.

4: Teams ranked among ACC’s top four offenses that Maryland will have played in November.

THE QUOTES

“Statistics tell you, for most of these 17, this will be the last time they strap it up. This is the last time they’ll play, not only for Maryland but for their career. The one thing, at least I know and I try to instill in our guys, is this: Just never have any regrets. I know none of these seniors or players are going to have any regrets from the standpoint that they didn’t give it anything they have. When you walk off that field, for everybody, it’s over for at least another year. And for the guys who are seniors, it could be over for good. What you always want to do, when you’re ending the season, and you’re ending basically your college career, you want to be able to walk off the field knowing that you’ve given everything you have to help your team win. I know that all of our guys will do that.” – Maryland Coach Randy Edsall.

“The word power would come to mind, when I look at their defense.” – North Carolina offensive coordinator Blake Anderson.

THE SONG OF SATURDAY

Hello, Goodbye” by The Beatles.

THE POLL

Alex Prewitt covers the Washington Capitals. Follow him on Twitter @alex_prewitt or email him at alex.prewitt@washpost.com.
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