Maryland will need a typical midseason Ralph Friedgen-esque surge if the Terps have designs on a fourth consecutive season of at least 10 wins.
Improvement is both the hope and expectation within the program as the team enters a bye week after defeating Duke, 55-21, and before facing a series of dangerous ACC teams that Friedgen describes as "murderer's row."
At 3-1, the 24th-ranked Terps essentially are where many people close to the program thought they would be through four games. They beat up on Temple and Duke, which statistically are two of the worst teams in the nation.
They were a play away from turning the season-opening Northern Illinois game into a rout. And they were a play away from upsetting West Virginia in Morgantown.
But the stretch of games that will define the season still awaits, and, as Friedgen said, "I don't think we're anywhere near our potential yet."
Friedgen cited numerous facets on offense that need to improve before Maryland hosts an enigmatic Georgia Tech team -- which beat Clemson but lost to North Carolina -- on Oct. 9.
At issue is quarterback Joel Statham's season-long tendency to either fumble the ball or throw interceptions. While Statham has had the misfortune of tipped passes on some of his seven interceptions, at least part of the problem has been his decision-making, Friedgen said.
The coaching staff saw Statham's performance Saturday, which included passing for 362 yards and four touchdowns, as considerable progress. For the most part, Statham made good reads and did an "exceptional job" throwing to the correct person at the right time, Friedgen said.
"I think he's ahead of where [predecessors] Scott McBrien and Shaun Hill were as far as reading coverages," Friedgen said.
Friedgen wants Statham to remain aggressive in the red zone, but he wants the sophomore to throw to a spot where only his receiver can catch the ball. Statham threw an interception in the end zone Saturday that Statham called a "stupid mistake."
One aspect that needs improvement is the coordination between the receivers and Statham, said Friedgen, adding that the offensive line hasn't been as fundamentally sharp as it was in the 45-22 win against Temple on Sept. 11.
The success of the running game pleased the coaching staff; Friedgen said halfback Josh Allen was "back to his old self" after battling soreness the past two weeks. Allen (87 yards) and Sam Maldonado (99 yards) both proved effective against Duke.
Defensively, Maryland allowed seven points and 83 rushing yards. In addition to the regular contributors, other players -- such as end Henry Scott, who recovered two fumbles Saturday -- have emerged to give the defense confidence.
"If we play anybody, we can be successful," said safety Raymond Custis, who intercepted a pass against Duke.
Terrapins Note: Maryland suffered no significant injuries against Duke. Defensive end Kevin Eli (concussion) missed Saturday's game, but Friedgen said his return is imminent.