2012 Mayland Preview - Offense
Maryland WR Kevin Dorsey
CollegeFootballNews.com 2012 Preview - Maryland Terrapin Offense
Preview 2012 - Offense
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What You Need To Know: The Terrapins are turning the page on last year's debacle in every way possible. The offense, for instance, will have a new leader, Mike Locksley, and a new agenda. Maryland is switching from the spread to more of a pro-style look, while also trying to hasten the tempo. The transfer of Danny O'Brien to Wisconsin means that C.J. Brown is the lone experienced quarterback on the roster, and the heavy favorite to be the opening day starter. The junior was a force on the ground in 2011, yet was erratic through the air, so he'll need to adjust to a system that requires far more consistency as a passer. In the aftermath of RB Davin Meggett's graduation, the Terps are going to be very green in the backfield. Justus Pickett spent the spring bucking for the starting job, but he's only in his second year on campus. And the level of his competition will increase dramatically when blue-chip recruits Wes Brown and Albert Reid arrive in the summer. Ditto receivers senior Kevin Dorsey and Kerry Boykins, who'll contend with the specter of mega-recruit Stefon Diggs in August. Maryland is going to struggle in the trenches this fall. It's inevitable. Three key starters have departed, including tackles Max Garcia and R.J. Dill, who've since transferred to Florida and Rutgers, respectively.
Star of the offense: Senior WR Kevin Dorsey
Passing: C.J. Brown
82-166, 842 yds, 7 TDs, 6 INTs
Rushing: C.J. Brown
79 carries, 574 yds, 5 TDs
Receiving: Kevin Dorsey
45 catches, 573 yds, 3 TDs
Player who has to step up and become a star: Junior OT Nick Klemm
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore WR Marcus Leak
Best pro prospect: Senior TE Matt Furstenburg
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Furstenburg, 2) Dorsey, 3) Senior C Bennett Fulper
Strength of the offense: Mobile quarterback, pass-catchers, interior of the line
Weakness of the offense: Passing efficiency, experience in the backfield, the O-line, third-down conversions, converting in the red zone
One-time franchise Danny O'Brien has taken his game to Wisconsin. The quarterback job belongs, for now, to 6-3, 205-pound C.J. Brown. The junior played plenty a year ago, appearing in 10 games and starting five. He showed poise in his first year of significant action, but wasn't quite the dual-threat that had been advertised. Yeah, he showcased tremendous athleticism outside the pocket, but also struggled to get comfortable as a passer. Brown was electrifying at times on the ground, running for 574 yards and five touchdowns on only 79 carries. Twice, he bolted for more than 100 yards, including 162 versus Clemson to set a school record for quarterbacks. However, he also completed less than 50% of his passes, going 82-of-166 for 842 yards, seven touchdowns and six picks.
The veteran on the roster behind Brown in the spring was senior Ricky Schultz, a newcomer by way of Shepherd University. The 6-0, 190-pounder brings experience to the depth chart, but will struggle to fend off the challenge of the newcomers.
Watch Out For .... the trajectory of coveted three-star recruits Perry Hills and Caleb Rowe. Although it's highly unlikely that one of the rookies can unseat Brown in the month of August, the No. 2 job is there for the taking if either Hills or Rowe can get up to speed quickly.
Strength: Proven legs. Brown was a game-changer with his feet last season, piercing defenses both on designed runs and when the pocket collapses around him. He's the kind of gifted all-around who forces defenses to scheme to stop him, even having a linebacker spy his every move. Brown will again be one of the ACC's most dangerous scrambling quarterbacks.
Weakness: Proven arms. Coordinator Mike Locksley has spent a lot of time working on Brown's mechanics and footwork, but will it pay dividends in the fall? The Terps have a long way to go as a passing team after finishing 110th nationally in passing efficiency, and throwing more picks than interceptions.
Outlook: The future at quarterback may be bright in College Park, but the present is a little hazy. Brown will once again make things happen on the ground, but needs to take another forward as a complete player behind center. Maryland craves balance, which will not be possible unless the junior evolves as a passer. And if Brown peaks in his development, he could wind up being just a placeholder until one of the rookies is ready to go.
With the graduation of Davin Meggett, sophomore Justus Pickett is first in line to take his place as the feature back in the running game. Quick and shifty at 5-10 and 185 pounds, he finished third on the team with 274 yards and a score on 74 carries, adding 10 receptions for 49 yards and another touchdown. He's stronger than his size might indicate, which was bolstered by added muscle and time in the weight room during the offseason. Pickett can make people miss, but would like to run through few more tacklers this season as well.
For the time being, backing up Pickett will be 5-10, 205-pound redshirt freshman Brandon Ross, a speed-size Terp just itching for his chance to get carries. While not heavily recruited coming out of Delaware, the program has been very impressed by his physical ability, and quick retention of the offense.
The clear-cut starter at fullback is sophomore Tyler Cierski. At 6-0 and 255 pounds, he's a real battering ram as a lead blocker for the Maryland tailbacks. Not one to the touch the ball with any regularity, he's extremely strong and nasty at the point of contact.
Watch Out For .... four-star gems Wes Brown and Albert Reid to pay immediate dividends upon arrival. Both players could have matriculated at schools with far more successful programs, but opted to remain close to home instead. It would be surprise if the two rookies don't push for playing time very early in their college careers.
Strength: The future. Down the road, the Terrapins are going to be in great shape at running back. In fact, of the four primary options for the upcoming season, not one is older than a sophomore. Pickett already has a valuable year of experience behind him, but it's Brown and Reid who really have the locals excited about what lays ahead.
Weakness: Experience. Often, with a bright future comes a lot of uncertainty and inexperience. Pickett is suddenly the veteran, which is a little unsettling since he's only been on campus for one year. The Maryland running game is sure to undergo a lot of growing pains as the underclassmen gradually get accustomed to the speed of the ACC.
Outlook: The Terps no longer have the safety net that they did when Da'Rel Scott and Davin Meggett were still on campus. Ready or not, the backfield is going to hurtle into the future with a gaggle of fresh faces and wide-eyed rookies. While Pickett is likely to be the workhorse, don't be surprised if his role gradually gets challenged as Reid and Brown grow increasingly more comfortable with college life.
The Terrapins are cautiously optimistic about a corps of receivers returning three of last year's top four producers. The ringleader will likely be 6-2, 210-pound senior Kevin Dorsey, a quality all-around player, and a quarterback's best friend. Not only does he possess good size, but he also runs good routes, and rarely drops a catchable ball. Saddled with a foot injury, he missed a couple of contests in 2011, yet still led the team with 45 receptions for 573 yards and three touchdowns.
Likely to join Dorsey in the lineup will be 5-11, 190-pound senior Kerry Boykins. He has the jets to blow past would-be tacklers, yet is also physical enough to run right through them for extra yards. At his best when working from the slot, he can be a tone-setter for the offense. The five-game starter in 2011 pulled in a career-high 37 passes for 430 yards last fall.
In senior Matt Furstenburg, the program boasts one of the ACC's premier tight ends. Despite playing in an offense that struggled to master the forward pass in 2011, the 6-4, 245-pounder still managed to make 31 grabs for 348 yards and a pair of scores. He has sticky hands, will not shy away from his blocking assignments and can beat opposing defenses down the seam once he gains a head of steam.
Behind Furstenburg, the drop-off to 6-2, 255-pound senior Devonte Campbell is not as precipitous as many might assume. Though limited by injuries throughout his career, he's a powerful H-back-like receiver who turned last year's four receptions into 56 yards and a pair of scores.
The Terps are excited about the potential of a couple of sophomores, 6-3, 200-pound Devin Burns and 6-0, 205-pound Marcus Leak, both of whom are contending for starting nods. Burns is a former quarterback at Maryland, who has the measurables to do a lot more after catching just one pass for 17 yards. Leak began turning heads toward the end of his rookie year, finishing it with 12 receptions for 85 yards and a touchdown. While he has good size, it's his ability to stretch the defense that's helped make him a candidate to start when the Terps go three-wide.
Watch Out For .... rookie WR Stefon Diggs to be as good as advertised. The rare five-star gem to play in College Park, he literally could have gone anywhere to continue his athletic career. The Terrapins have signed a legitimate game-changer, the kind of athlete who'll be difficult to keep on the bench for very long.
Strength: Veteran options. The Terrapins are going to feature a steady collection of options for QB C.J. Brown that's highlighted by Dorsey and Boykins at wide receiver and Furstenburg at tight end. The trio has been in the program for a long time, has a good feel for the offense and won't make the kinds of mental mistakes that torpedo a quarterback's development.
Weakness: A true gamebreaker on the outside. Unless Diggs is ready to become the go-to guy here in his first couple of months on campus, Maryland is going to be more steady than spectacular in the receiving corps. Okay, so the quarterbacks own most of the blame for last season's problems in the passing game, but the pass-catchers were certainly not faultless in the debacle.
Outlook: All things considered, the receivers and tight ends could be the strength of the Maryland offense in 2012. Dorsey is back from a knee injury after leading the team in receiving. Boykins is underrated. Furstenburg is in contention to become the ACC's premier tight end. And Diggs isn't far from being ready. It all adds up to an underrated crew, with the potential to elevate the performance of Brown this fall.
The Terrapin O-line will be awash in concern entering 2012 following the losses of three starters, including a pair of untimely transfers. While there are few sure-things up front, 6-5, 300-pound Josh Cary is close to being one of them. The junior started nine games at right guard a year ago, and is expected to be back in the same spot in the fall. He has tackle size to go along with just enough toughness to hold up well on the inside.
The situation at left guard is slightly more muddled. Massive junior Pete White is the incumbent of sorts, having started six games after a season-ending injury to Andrew Gonnella. However, the 6-4, 320-pound pile-driver is recovering from a pair of shoulder surgeries, and still needs to clean up his overall blocking technique.
Looking to leapfrog White will be 6-4, 290-pound junior De'Onte Arnett, the former coveted recruit earmarked for the defensive line. After switching to offense in 2010, he's played sparingly, but did get first-team reps in the spring. With a little more fine-tuning, there's hope he can be ready to contribute further in 2012.
Center will be competitive as well. The most versatile and veteran member of the front wall is 6-5, 295-pound senior Bennett Fulper who has 22 career starts, three at left guard, one at right guard and 18 at center. He started the first 10 games of 2011 at the pivot before suffering a season-ending injury that also shelved him in the spring.
Fulper's absence has opened the door for 6-4, 285-pound sophomore Sal Conaboy to contend for the spot at center. In just his first season on campus, he held up very well after Fulper was injured, starting the final two games. Conaboy has added 30 pounds since arriving, yet remains light on his feet, and quick to get to the second level.
Until further notice, 6-5, 300-pound junior Nick Klemm is going to be the answer for the Terps at left tackle. Although he has spent most of his career on the right side, the more pressing need at this time is where the quarterback's blindside is protected. He has 17 career games of experience, yet the former defensive lineman is still awaiting his first start.
Right tackle is a toss-up at this time, though Klemm could wind up handling the job if he gets displaced on the left side. Redshirt freshman Ryan Doyle and sophomore Jake Wheeler were battling it out in the spring, but it remains to be seen if either is ready to flourish in the lineup once the season begins. Ideally, the underclassmen can learn for one more year, while a veteran holds the spot down in 2012.
Watch Out For.... the health of senior OT Justin Gilbert. Purely in terms of talent, he's as good as any of the Maryland blockers, but just never seems to be healthy. The 6-6, 300-pounder has been battling knee problems over the past couple of years, which have limited him to only seven games in 2010 and 2011 combined. If Gilbert is cleared, he'd likely man left tackle, pushing Klemm to the right side.
Strength: The interior. Relatively speaking, the Terps are strongest at guard and center, where there's a decent amount of depth and talent. Plus, there's a lot of cross-training and versatility going, meaning the loser of the center battle could wind up sliding out and playing some guard as well.
Weakness: Tackle. It didn't have to be this way, but R.J. Dill decided to transfer to Rutgers, and Max Garcia will continue his career at Florida. In the aftermath of those decisions, Maryland is crawling with uncertainty on the flanks. In a best case scenario, it'll be Gilbert and Klemm, but with the former's history of knee problems, don't bank on both being on the field for all 12 games.
Outlook: The O-line promises to be a work-in-progress, as the coaching staff works overtime in the offseason to figure out its best mix of starters. It's going to be a fluid process, especially when the rookies arrive in the summer. If the holdovers cannot stay healthy for the bulk of the season, a bad situation will get far worse for the rest of the Terrapins offense.
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