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Week one of the Randy Edsall era at Maryland was a devout success. The Terps successfully defended their home turf and beat Miami in a spectacular 32-24 victory that was a fun game to watch; minus those hideous uniforms. Weeks two through 15 were not as fun. After that Miami victory, Maryland never beat another FBS team all year. They finished 2-10 and Edsall was forced to bring in both a new offensive coordinator and a new defensive coordinator.
This 2012 team has been retooled and stocked with an impressive top 35 recruiting class that featured five star wide receiver Stefon Diggs. So, needless to say, expectations are a little higher for Edsall this season even though he still doesn’t have a whole lot to work with. CJ Brown returns as the Terps starting quarterback and new offensive coordinator Mikes Locksley vows to create an offensive playbook that’s more suited for his dual-threat skillset. Still, Brown needs to be a more accurate passer if Maryland wants to win a few more games this year. Brown completed less than 50-percent of his passes last year and tossed six interceptions as well.
Thankfully, the junior signal caller will have a few more weapons to work with. Diggs was a major coup on the recruiting trail a year ago and should give the Terrapins an immediate boost at receiver. He’ll join upperclassmen Kevin Dorsey and Kerry Boykins outwide.
The running back situation is much more fluid. The Terps will use a RB-by-committee approach until someone steps up. Justus Pickett will be the week one starter but he could be replaced by talent freshman Wes Brown if he doesn’t produce.
Defensive Coordinator Brian Stewart has his work cutout for him on defense, as the Terps were one of the worst units in the country last year. However, he does have some good pieces. Kenny Tate is back after a medical redshirt year, which is a huge boost to this unit. Tate is a hard hitter and one of the best tacklers in the country when he’s healthy and focused. Perhaps their best defensive player is Joe Vellano, a hard-nosed yet undersized defensive tackle.
If Locksley can assemble an efficient offense and Stewart can navigate this defense back on track, the Terps have enough talent to get back to a bowl game this year. But they’ll need some of their talented freshmen to step up this fall.
Why They Should Be Higher
Unlike Boston College, the Terrapins have some firepower on both sides of the ball. Tate is an All-American candidate and he’ll be asked to play an OLB in Stewart’s new attacking 3-4 defense. That’s a role he should excel in if his knee is back to 100-percent. On offense, Brown is surrounded with talent although some of that talent will be awfully young. If these pieces come together then the Terps could avoid another losing season and make it back to a mid-December bowl game. It’s not sexy but it’s about the best you can hope for if you’re a Maryland fan.
Why They Should Be Lower
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There are some major holes on the offensive and defensive line. Starting offensive tackles R.J. Dill and Max Garcia transferred after last season, leaving a major void at both positions. It will be up to Nick Klemm and Justin Gilbert to man those positions this fall. Even if those guys do play well, the depth behind them is questionable at best with some redshirt freshmen looking at significant playing time.
On the defensive line, the Terps will need somebody other than Vellano to rush the quarterback.
The good news for the Terps is that the schedule sets up for a possible 3-0 start this year if the offense can put up some points. William & Mary is a decent FCS team but the Terrapins have more talent. The roadtrip to Temple may be a little tougher with the addition of running back Montel Harris but it’s still a winnable game. The same thing can be said about UCONN in week three.
After that, who knows? Every other game could be a loss. I don’t see Maryland beating West Virginia, Georgia Tech, Florida State, or Clemson. Luckily they do avoid Virginia Tech and Miami from the Coastal Division.
2012 Prediction: 4-8
With such a young team, I think the Terps start off 2-1 and falter down the stretch. A 4-8 season won’t ease the heat on Randy Edsall after last season’s debacle but as long as the team shows improvement I think the fanbase will allow him to return for a 3rd season as head coach.
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