“Our guys are going to be ready to go,” Maryland head coach Randy Edsall said. “It's the last time these 17 seniors are going to put on the Maryland uniform and so we want to do everything we can to make sure we go down there and finish on a high note and go into the offseason with a good taste in our mouth.”
The Maryland Terrapins have lost five straight games while losing four quarterbacks, leading rusher Wes Brown, offensive weapon Marcus Leak and defensive captain Demetrius Hartsfield to season-ending injuries. The season has become a disappointment, but the Terps are still going into North Carolina looking for that elusive fifth win.
“It is disappointing that we're going to miss out on that opportunity, especially when we were so close,” Edsall said. “We're sitting there at 4-2 and we're a couple inches away from getting the fifth win and losing two quarterbacks in that game and going up to BC and coming out on the wrong side of that game at the end and then losing another quarterback there. It is disappointing. You know, I feel for the kids, but one thing I know these guys are going to do, they understand you go out there and you play as hard as you can. You're lining up to play the game.”
Maryland's freshman linebacker-turned-quarterback, Shawn Petty, will once again lead the offense for what will most likely be his last stint as quarterback. Petty has completed 46.9 percent of his passes for 292 yards, five touchdowns and one interception in three games, but his tendency to fumble the ball has hurt the Terps. In the wake of Brown's absence, Brandon Ross is expected to be the feature running back against the Tar Heels. Ross has played in five games, carrying the ball 64 times for 249 yards.
The Tar Heels are averaging 49.3 points per game at home this season and are averaging 484.2 yards per game, a new single-season school record (441.8 in 1983). Tailback Giovani Bernard leads the Atlantic Coast Conference in rushing yards per game with 118.33 yards, which ranks 13th in the nation. Bernard will also be a threat on special teams as he is second in the nation in punt returns. Bernard is also second in the nation in scoring and fifth in all-purpose yards.
North Carolina quarterback Bryn Renner will also be a force on offense, having thrown 23 touchdown passes this season. He has completed 64.8 percent of his passes for 3,051 yards while only throwing seven interceptions all season.
“North Carolina is a team with a very high-paced offense,” Edsall said. “If you take a look at it, you're almost going to see similar things offensively that they do and that we do and same thing on defense. They're a terrific offense. Bryn Renner is an outstanding quarterback.”
The Terps have nothing to lose without a possibility of a bowl game in December. But if there is anything, Edsall said, it is to give the 17 seniors a proper sendoff in what will be for many of them the last game of their football careers.
“Once thing I know and I try to instill in our guys is this: just never have any regrets,” Edsall said. “And I know none of these seniors or none of these players are going to have any regrets from the standpoint that they didn't give it everything they have because when you walk off that field, for everybody, it's over for at least that year, and for the seniors, it could be over for good. I think what you always want to do, when you're ending a season or you're ending your college career, you want to be able to walk off the field knowing you've given everything you have to help your team win.”
The Maryland Terrapins will meet the North Carolina Tar Heels this Saturday in Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill, N.C. Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m.