The Maryland Terrapins had a forgettable season last year as they went just 2-10 in Randy Edsall’s first year on the job. Two losses that really stand out from last season are a 45-46 loss to Clemson and a 41-56 loss against NC State. Maryland blew a 35-17 lead against the Tigers and a 41-14 lead vs the Wolfpack..
While last year was a difficult season for everyone involved, the Terrapins are confident 2012 will provide a much better outcome.. They welcome back 15 starters and 42 lettermen, and they’ll have a much better grasp of the system in year two.
Maryland had a respectable 380 total yards of offense per game last year, but they had an underwhelming 23.1 points out of it. If the Terrapins can improve on their red zone offense, I don’t think there’s any doubt they will win more games.. With the team returning six starters on the offensive side of the ball, they should be much more improved overall.
After an underwhelming season last year, starting quarterback Danny O’Brien transferred to Wisconsin. CJ Brown took over for O’Brien after the latter player injured his arm against Notre Dame, and he completed just 49.4% of his passes for 842 yards with seven touchdowns and six interceptions. He was excellent at making things happen with his feet however, as he rushed for 574 yards and five scores. Now that Brown will be the starter this fall, offensive coordinator Mike Locksley will look to maximize his dual-threat ability.
Edsall had a propensity of developing 1,000-yard rushers in his 12 years at Connecticut. While the Terrapins lose leading rusher Devin Meggett, Edsall has recruited two very highly touted true freshmen backs in Wes Brown and Albert Reid. Sophomore Justin Pickett is their leading returning rusher, but Brown has impressed the coaching staff so much during spring drills that he has the starting job in the bag.
The Terrapins have a lot of quality playmakers outside as three of their top four pass catchers return. They are senior WR Kevin Dorsey, senior WR Kerry Boykins and senior TE Matt Furstenburg. Edsall also made an interesting pick-up when he landed top recruit freshman WR Stefon Diggs, who will start right away.
The offensive line played well last season, going for 169 rushing yards per game and 4.8/carry while allowing only 17 sacks. While two starters may have transferred, the Terrapins are still in a pretty good position with three O-linemen returning. Edsall has also recruited well up front and this unit should only get better and improve upon its numbers from last year.
The Terrapins really struggled on this side of the ball in Edsall’s first season.. They finished dead last in the ACC in points allowed (34.3) and total yards allowed (447). This defense has the chance to be one of the most improved in the country because they have nine starters coming back on defense.
They return six players with starting experience up front so they should improve their defense against the run. One of the players returning includes second-team All-American Joe Vellano. Starting up front alongside him will be sophomore DE Andre Monroe and senior NT AJ Francis.
Injuries decimated the front seven defensively last year as SLB Kenny Tate, WLB Darin Drakeford and MOLB Demetrius Hartsfield all missed significant time last year. Tate, Drakeford and Hartsfield all return for their senior season and they will be joined by sophomore MLB LA Goree at the starting lineup. Should everyone stay healthy, they can definitely be one of the most improved LB corps in the land.
The secondary will certainly miss a few solid players, including CB Cameron Chism. But this unit welcomes back four players with starting experience. Leading the way will be senior FS Eric Franklin and junior CB Dexter McDougle. Sophomore SS Matt Robinson returns after taking a medical redshirt last year.
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ACC Atlantic Division Prediction – 3rd Place
The Terrapins certainly have the talent to sneak up in the standings and surprise some people in the Atlantic Division. While they may be outclassed by powerhouses Clemson and Florida State, this could be the most talented team left (after those two). The offense should be better, but where they will make huge strides is on the defensive end. Edsall is known for getting the most out of his players, and I expect him to do just that in his second season at Maryland.. Maryland has three very winnable ACC home games against Wake Forest, NC State and Georgia Tech and they could beat Virginia and Boston College on the road as well. They’ll have a minimum of four conference wins in 2012, which is definitely a welcome change for the Terrapins.
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