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2011 Maryland Preview
Maryland QB Danny O'Brien
Maryland QB Danny O'Brien
Posted Jun 2, 2011

It's not like Maryland was bad last year, but 9-4 and a bowl victory weren't enough to prevent a coaching change. In comes Randy Edsall from Connecticut, and now the expectations are high. Win nine games or else the pressure will be on. Can the Terps be more of a threat for the ACC title? Check out the 2011 CFN Maryland Preview.

Maryland Terrapins

Preview 2011

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By Richard Cirminiello

Head coach: Randy Edsall
1st year: 0-0
Returning Lettermen
Off. 24, Def. 20, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 25
Ten Best Maryland Players
1. LB Kenny Tate, Sr.
2. DT Joe Vellano, Jr.
3. QB Danny O’Brien, Soph.
4. RB Davin Meggett, Sr.
5. LB Demetrius Hartsfield, Jr.
6. CB Cameron Chism, Sr.
7. PR Tony Logan, Sr.
8. CB Trenton Hughes, Sr.
9. DT A.J. Francis, Jr.
10. RB D.J. Adams, Soph.
2011 Schedule

Sept. 5 Miami
Sept. 10 OPEN DATE
Sept. 17 West Virginia
Sept. 24 Temple
Oct. 1 Towson
Oct. 8 at Georgia Tech
Oct. 15 Clemson
Oct. 22 at Florida State
Oct. 29 Boston Coll.
Nov. 5 Virginia
Nov. 12 Notre Dame (in Land.)
Nov. 19 at Wake Forest
Nov. 26 at NC State

In a typical world, a coach leaves a job on the heels of a brutal season that earns him the axe or a great one that lands him a promotion. Neither applied to Ralph Friedgen, which has made the transition to a new staff a somewhat strange one.

After being mired in mediocrity for six long seasons, the coach finally rekindled the success from his first few seasons in College Park, going an unexpected 9-4 a year ago. Too little, too late. The administration had seen enough, pulling the plug on the Fridge and prying Randy Edsall out of Connecticut. Although it may have looked odd in light of last year’s results, it’ll wind up being the right decision for the long-term health of the program.

Very quietly, Edsall turned Connecticut into a winner, guiding a basketball school to prominence on grass and a highly improbable Big East title and Fiesta Bowl appearance last year. The coach is no fluke or one-hit wonder. He’s a winner, a builder of programs who does things the right way by building from the bottom up. Maryland still may not get the best recruits on the East Coast, but its players will be well-coached, fundamentally-sound, and far more NFL-ready than when they arrive on campus. Edsall has the track record of success in Storrs for more than a decade to prove it.

Edsall arrives at a good time to hit the ground running. He and his staff inherit a franchise quarterback in sophomore Danny O’Brien, potential 1,000-yard rusher Davin Meggett, and a defense that has an all-star at each level. Although it isn’t likely to be parlayed into instant success or an Atlantic Division crown, there’s enough talent on hand to return to the postseason for a second straight year.

Edsall took Connecticut about as far as the program was going to go under his watch. It’s on to a new challenge for the coach and his staff. While Maryland also plays in a basketball-first league, he’s going to find the opportunities bigger and the stage quite a bit grander than it was while he was working his magic in the Nutmeg State.

What to look for on offense: The health of the O-line. What seems to be a perennial problem in the trenches shows no signs of going away. An already mediocre blocking unit has been besieged by injuries over the last few seasons, forcing the Terps to dig deeper into the depth chart than it can afford. Maryland needs a full complement of linemen to keep QB Danny O’Brien well-protected this fall, which means Justin Gilbert’s knee, Pete DeSouza’s fractured legs, and Justin Lewis’ knee will be monitored very closely this summer.

What to look for on defense: The young safeties. How confident is the new staff regarding junior Eric Franklin and sophomore Matt Robinson? So much so that it had no problems moving all-league S Kenny Tate to Star, a safety-linebacker hybrid. Franklin and Robinson both look the part, possessing the size and athletic ability to flourish early in their careers. While there’s justifiable concern because of the lack of experience, don’t be surprised if both performing like playmakers by the midway point of the season.

The team will be far better if … it develops a better pass rush from the edge. The Terps are going to get heat from the inside from Joe Vellano and from the linebackers, but what about the ends? The group was almost non-existent in 2010, putting undue pressure on the back seven and the pass defense. Far more help is needed from junior DE Isaiah Ross and the competitors at Buck, David Mackall and Bradley Johnson, the three top options to light a spark under the pass rush.

The Schedule: Nothing like starting out with a high profile game to see where the program is at. Miami will want to win the first game for Al Golden, while Maryland will obviously want to start out hot for Edsall. With West Virginia up next, the Terps have work to do right away. Temple and Towson ease things up, but the other non-conference date is Notre Dame in November. Along with playing the Canes from the Coastal, Maryland gets a break playing Virginia, but also has to go to Georgia Tech. In the Atlantic, going to Florida State will hurt and closing out on the road at Wake Forest and NC State will be tough.

Best Offensive Player: Sophomore QB Danny O’Brien. The old brass always knew O’Brien would be the man behind center, yet he wasn’t even the starter when 2010 began. That honor belonged to Jamarr Robinson, who isn’t even with the team any longer. A freshman phenom, the 6-3, 215-pounder completed 192-of-337 passes for 2,438 yards, 22 touchdowns, and only eight interceptions. Beyond just throwing an accurate ball, he also has a high football IQ and the kind of work ethic and leadership skills that are going to rub off on the rest of his teammates.

Best Defensive Player: Senior LB Kenny Tate. The NFL can’t wait to get their hands on Tate, and for good reason. A 6-4, 220-pound converted safety, he hits like a truck and will also cover receivers the way a defensive back should. An intimidating force wherever he lines up, he exploded for 100 tackles, 8.5 stops for loss, 3.5 sacks, and three interceptions to earn a spot on the All-ACC first team. Opting to return to campus instead of turning pro, he’ll have a shot to make national headlines in his final year of eligibility.

Key player to a successful season: Senior RB Davin Meggett. The new staff wants to establish a productive running game around QB Danny O’Brien, a responsibility Meggett is ready to handle. A reserve for most of his career, he still led the team in rushing in 2010, going for 720 yards and four touchdowns on 126 carries. The Terps need him to be more of a workhorse now that Da’Rel Scott has graduated, wearing down opponents the way similarly-sized Mark Ingram used to do at Alabama. If he gets proper support up front, he should be able to use this opportunity to run for 1,000 yards and attract the attention of pro scouts.

The season will be a success if ... the Terrapins win seven games and qualify for back-to-back bowl berths. Even with a new staff on the sidelines, there’s enough talent on both sides of the ball for this school to finish above .500 and continue playing in December. There are very breaks in a schedule that begins with visits from Miami, West Virginia, and Temple, but Edsall & Co. should be able to manufacture the necessary wins behind Danny O’Brien’s passing and the play of an underrated D.

Key game: Sept. 17 vs. West Virginia. Long a nemesis when he was at Connecticut, Edsall gets his first crack at the Mountaineers as the Maryland head coach. It should be an interesting chess match for a man who knows the West Virginia program almost as well as he knows the Terp one he inherited last winter. It’ll also serve as a useful barometer for the staff, which will have an additional week off to assess the good and the bad of the opener with Miami.

2010 Fun Stats:
- Touchdowns scored: Maryland 54 – Opponents 34
- Average yards per play: Maryland 5.6 – Opponents 4.7
- Net punt average: Maryland 35.5 - Opponents 27.5

- 2011 Maryland Preview | 2011 Maryland Offense
- 2011 Maryland Defense | 2011 Maryland Depth Chart
- Maryland Previews  2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006