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October 15, 2004

State-Maryland Game Preview

NC State will try to break a four-game losing streak against Maryland this Saturday - and try to wash away the bitter taste of last week's loss to Carolina.

The Wolfpack and Terps, both unranked this week, look pretty evenly matched. A victory is paramount for both teams as Saturday's winner stays alive in the chase for the ACC title and the league's top bowls.

Here's a preview of the match-up:

Date: Saturday, Oct. 16
Time: 3:30 p.m.
Venue: Byrd Stadium (51,500, natural grass), College Park, MD
Television: ABC - Mike Tirico will provide the play-by-play call, while Tim Brant and Terry Bowden will provide analysis. Suzy Shuster will be the sideline reporter.
Streak: Maryland has won the last four games
Forecast for Kickoff: Partly cloudy, temperatures in the low 60s, 10 percent chance of rain

Location: College Park, MD
Enrollment: 34,933
Coach: Ralph Friedgen (Maryland '70)
Coach's Record: 34-10 (.773) in four years, all at Maryland
2004 Record: 3-2, 1-1 in the ACC


2004 Maryland Team Leaders:
• Passing: Joel Statham (6-1, 212, Soph.) has completed 67 of 118 passes for 943 yards, 7 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. He has a 131.62 efficiency rating.
• Rushing: Sammy Maldonado (6-0, 233, Sr.) has rushed for 381 yards and 5 touchdowns on 83 carries, averaging 76.2 yards per game and 4.6 yards per carry.
• Receiving: Derrick Fenner (5-11, 186, Jr.) has caught 14 passes for 225 yards and 2 touchdowns, averaging 45.0 yards per game.
• Tackling: MLB D'Qwell Jackson (6-0, 231, Jr.) 52 tackles
• Sacks: DE Shawne Merriman (6-4, 245, Jr.) 5 sacks
• Interceptions: MLB D'Qwell Jackson (6-0, 231, Jr.) 2 interceptions

• Points scored: NCSU 24.8 * UMD 29.2
• Points allowed: NCSU 17.8 * UMD 20.4
• Offensive yards: NCSU 382.8 * UMD 379.8
• Yards rushing: NCSU 195.2 * UMD 174.4
• Yards passing: NCSU 187.6 * UMD 205.4
• Defensive yards: NCSU 226.2 * UMD 309.6
• Defensive yards rushing: NCSU 114.0 * UMD 142.0
• Defensive yards passing: NCSU 112.2 * UMD 167.6

NCSU: Out - OG/OT Merci Falaise, knee surgery on 9.28; C Jed Paulsen, Ankle surgery; Questionable - OG/C Luke Lathan, MCL sprain; WR Sterling Hicks, heel injury; Probable - ROV Andre Maddox, hamstring strain; TB T.A. McLendon, hamstring strain and AC separation
Maryland: Out - TE Rob Abiamiri, stress fracture in foot; Questionable - C Kyle Schmitt, concussion; RG Russell Bonham, hamstring; RT Brandon Nixon, shoulder; Probable - LG C.J. Brooks, neck stinger.

NCSU: Maryland has won the last four meetings but NC State went 11-3 against the Terps from 1986-99. The overall series is tied at 28-28-4. The Wolfpack has fared pretty well in College Park, winning 12 of 27 games there ... The first-ever meeting between the teams came in 1909, with NC State winning 31-0 ... Both head coaches (Chuck Amato and Ralph Friedgen) are directing their alma maters ... All three of State's conference games thus far this season have come down to the last play.

MARYLAND: The Terps suffered their worst offensive performance in the Ralph Friedgen era last Saturday against Georgia Tech, netting just 81 total yards ... State will be the Terrapins' homecoming opponent for the second time in three years. Maryland has won its last four homecoming games and is 5-0 against NCSU when the Pack serves as a homecoming guest ... This will be the first time this season that the Terps enter a game unranked in either poll ... Maryland is 21-2 at home under coach Friedgen ... The Terps are 4-9 (home and way) under Friedgen when it trails at halftime but are 30-0 when they lead at intermission ... Senior Nick Novak is now in the top-10 in career NCAA scoring among kickers. He booted the game-winner against State a year ago in Raleigh ... Saturday's pre-game will feature a flyover by the D.C. Air National Guard.

SCOUTING REPORT: NC State coach Chuck Amato has talked all week about the need to stay focused and disciplined for a full 60 minutes.

Anything less could produce a repeat of last year's game with the Terps, won by Maryland in the final seconds after the Wolfpack gave up a 14-point fourth-quarter lead. State has struggled to finish off the Terps in each of the past four years.

Expect NC State to apply more defensive pressure on Maryland than it did last week against the Heels. Defensive coordinator Reggie Herring surely noticed that Georgia Tech was able to stymie Terrapin sophomore quarterback Joel Statham.

The Yellow Jackets forced a couple of fumbles and numerous bad decisions from the first year starter, so much so that Friedgen played freshman Jordan Steffy much of the second half. Steffy didn't fare any better.

State already has 18 sacks on the season and would love nothing more than to feast on a pair of youthful quarterbacks again this week. Statham obviously doesn't have the mobility of UNC quarterback Damian Durant but has thrown seven touchdown passes and has a higher efficiency rating than Durant did going into last week. Statham's favorite targets thus far have been Vernon Davis (3 TDs) and Derrick Fenner (2 TDs). Davis is a menacing receiver at 6-3, 239 and had all three of his TD catches against Duke.

Sammy Maldonado (381 yards, 5 TDs) and Josh Allen (348 yards, 3 TDs) give Maryland a two-pronged rushing attack. Maldonado is the Terrapins' T.A. McLendon - a freight-train type back who doesn't like to go down (6.0 yards per carry average a year ago). Allen is more of the express line and has good breakaway speed.

Despite last week's struggles, Maryland will certainly test the Pack's stopping unit, which is still ranked among the nation's best in several categories.

The past six quarters have been pretty sterling for NC State's offense. Junior quarterback Jay Davis has found his groove (40-of-52 for 517 yards the last two games), and the Pack hit Wake Forest and North Carolina from all angles with the rushing attack.

T.A. McLendon, the ACC's leading rusher with 443 yards, is still nursing a hamstring and shoulder injury, so State could again turn to the bullpen to spare him some minutes. Fortunately, the stable is full of talent. Reggie Davis had a breakout game a week ago against UNC (72 yards) despite a fumble. Darrell Blackman and Bobby Washington also had some nice carries. Flanker Richard Washington even got into the act, rushing for 71 yards on end-around plays. Receiver Tramain Hall had 32 rushing yards against UNC.

State's running backs would do well to avoid middle linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, emerging as one of the ACC's best. Junior DE Shawne Merriman already has five sacks for the Terps.

With the last four meetings coming down to the wire and this game shaping up to be a toss-up, special teams play should prove important. Maryland has one of the best kicking games in the country with place-kicker Nick Novak (All-ACC in 2002 and '03) and punter Adam Podlesh (second-team All-ACC in '03) leading the way. Return specialist Steve Suter has also earned conference honors in the past.

State counters with Mr. Do-It-All - John Deraney, who handles kickoffs, punts, field goals and PATs. Deraney booted a pair of field goals last week to give him six on the year. He's averaging more than 44 yards per punt. The Wolfpack is still looking for a breakout in the return game. The longest punt return so far is 19 yards and longest kickoff return is 29.

N.C. State NEWS


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