Editor’s note: This is the sixth of a 12-part series previewing Virginia’s 2013 opponents.
Stefon Diggs caught Ian Frye’s kickoff three yards deep in his own end zone, paused for a moment and then took off like he had a plane to catch.
An electrifying touchdown later, Virginia was rightfully introduced to Maryland’s most explosive player. And he was only a freshman.
The Cavaliers and the Terrapins will meet for the final time as ACC members on the second Saturday in October. Diggs, second only to Miami’s Duke Johnson in last season’s ACC Freshman of the Year voting, is expected to be very visible in Byrd Stadium.
He might even have help this time around.
Randy Edsall is entering his third season as Maryland’s head coach. His second season saw a two-win improvement from his first. The 4-8 2012 was a mild success considering it happened with more quarterbacks in the training room than behind center.
The Terps had four scholarship signal callers suffer season-ending injuries last year, including C.J. Brown, the projected starter.
Edsall had to manage to score points without a proven arm taking snaps.
Cue a major workload for Diggs.
The highly touted recruit out of Good Counsel caught 54 passes for 848 yards and six touchdowns. He also took 20 carries for 114 yards, returned 25 kicks for 713 yards and two touchdowns and returned 22 punts for 221 yards.
In the 27-20 win over UVa on Oct. 13, Diggs totaled 239 yards a touchdown.
He was the clear Mr. Do-It-All for a team that averaged just 20 points a game, good for 10th in the ACC.
In 2013, however, Maryland gets a boost in having Brown return. The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder was granted a medical hardship waiver permitting him a sixth season of eligibility in April.
In 2011, Brown threw for 842 yards with seven touchdowns to six interceptions. He made five starts.
He’ll get competition from New Mexico transfer Ricardo Young, a Washington D.C. product who began his career at Virginia Tech.
Sophomore Wes Brown, 382 yards and two touchdowns last season, was slated to help the backfield, but is currently suspended following his arrest Wednesday. Another option is Brandon Ross, also a sophomore. Ross ran for 390 yards and a touchdown last season.
Diggs is the only skill position starter returning for Maryland.
Defensively, just four starters are back from last season. The Terps must replace All-American defensive tackle Joe Vellano as well as All-ACC tackle A.J. Francis.
The strength is in the secondary, where corners Dexter McDougle (71 tackles, five pass break-ups) and Jeremiah Johnson (43 tackles, eight pass break-ups) return.
The Terrapins were third in the ACC in total defense in 2012.
Coach: Randy Edsall (6-18 in two years at Maryland)
2012 Record: 4-8
Aug. 31 FIU
Sept. 7 Old Dominion
Sept. 14 at Connecticut
Sept. 21 vs. West Virginia (Baltimore)
Oct. 5 at Florida State
Oct. 12 Virginia
Oct. 19 at Wake Forest
Oct. 26 Clemson
Nov. 9 Syracuse
Nov. 16 at Virginia Tech
Nov. 23 Boston College
Nov. 30 at N.C. State
Offensive players to watch (2012 stats): QB C.J. Brown (N/A); WR Stefon Diggs (54 catches, 848 yards, six touchdowns); RB Brandon Ross (85 carries, 390 yards, touchdown)
Defensive players to watch: LB Cole Farrand (78 tackles, six for loss, three forced fumbles); CB Jeremiah Johnson (43 tackles, five for loss, eight pass break-ups); CB Dexter McDougle (71 tackles, three for loss, five pass break-ups)