2012 Mayland Preview - A Do Over
Maryland S Matt Robinson
CollegeFootballNews.com 2012 Preview - Maryland Terrapins
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By Richard Cirminiello
The storm has passed. The ship is still afloat after taking in a rush of water in 2011.
Head coach:Randy Edsall |
Second year: 2-10
Off. 19, Def. 21, ST 1
Lettermen Lost: 23
Ten Best Maryland Players
1. DE Joe Vellano, Sr.
2. LB Demetrius Hartsfield, Sr.
3. LB Kenny Tate, Sr.
4. S Eric Franklin, Sr.
5. WR Kevin Dorsey, Sr.
6. TE Matt Furstenburg, Sr.
7. LB Darin Drakeford, Sr.
8. DE Andre Monroe, Soph.
9. S Matt Robinson, Soph.
10. QB C.J. Brown, Jr.
Sep. 1 William & Mary
Sep. 8 at Temple
Sep. 15 Connecticut
Sep. 22 at West Virginia
Sep. 29 OPEN DATE
Oct. 6 Wake Forest
Oct. 13 at Virginia
Oct. 20 NC State
Oct. 27 at Boston College
Nov. 3 Georgia Tech
Nov. 10 at Clemson
Nov. 17 Florida State
Nov. 24 at North Carolina
Maryland and first-year head coach Randy Edsall lived to tell about last season's 2-10 disaster, but barely. Not only did the Terps suffer through one of their worst seasons in school history on the field, but there were numerous player defections away from it, resulting in a general air of dissention.
Edsall and his reshuffled coaching staff, which includes new coordinators Mike Locksley and Brian Stewart, are spending this offseason trying to change the culture in College Park, while filling the roster with their type of players. Encouraging news for the future did come from a recruiting class in February that far exceeded most expectations.
The Terps will begin the season as an incomplete ensemble. The defense is bowl-worthy, a vastly underrated group primping for a major rebound off last year. The offense, though, is weak enough to keep Maryland from achieving the growth it sorely needs in 2012. Stewart inherits a D loaded with returning starters and aspiring all-stars, such as DE Joe Vellano, linebackers Demetrius Hartsfield and Kenny Tate and S Eric Franklin.
The new 3-4 is going to surprise a lot of people—in a good way—this fall. Locksley's gang, on the other hand, is a serious work-in-progress related to three untimely transfers, the graduation of leading rusher Davin Meggett and the need to revamp the O-line. If the offense surprises, so too will the entire program.
It may only be Year 2 for the new regime, but it is a crucial one if it has any hopes of remaining viable beyond 2012. Edsall was an unpopular choice to replace Ralph Friedgen in 2011, a situation that degraded exponentially throughout last season's disaster. The Terps have to emerge from their shell, preferably in a way that shows up in the Atlantic Division standings.
What to look for on offense: The impact of the rookies. The Terrapins signed three blue-chip skill position players in February, symbols of the new climate Randy Edsall is attempting to foster in College Park. WR Stefon Diggs and running backs Albert Reid and Wes Brown are building block-type talents, but how much will their talent affect the depth chart in 2012? Rest assured that no one on the staff is installing limits, especially since Maryland is searching for a new feature back, and is more steady than spectacular in the receiving corps.
What to look for on defense: The front seven to dominate … if healthy. Assuming all of the team's linemen and linebackers are available and at full strength in 2012, Maryland will be home to a downright nasty front wall. It has everything, from speed and tenacity to experience and depth. DE Joe Vellano will set the tone with his relentless passion, but will get plenty of support from linebackers Kenny Tate, Demetrius Hartsfield and Darin Drakeford. If the Terrapins are unable to make a quantum leap against the run versus last season, mark it down as a major lost opportunity for this program.
The team will be far better if … it becomes a markedly improved third-down squad. The Terrapins were pretty good on first and second downs a year ago, but were disastrous when it mattered most. On offense, Maryland ranked 101st nationally on third-down conversions, sputtering and punting on a regular basis. Defensively, the team was worse, standing ahead of just one FBS program in America. The Terps have got to start winning battles on third down if it has any chance of turning the corner and becoming more competitive this season.
The Schedule: The Terps have a shot to immediately put the awful 2011 in the rearview mirror by getting by Temple and UConn from the Big East over the first few weeks. A 3-0 start is a must with a trip to West Virginia to follow, but the Terps get a week off before kicking off ACC play with Wake Forest. Missing Virginia Tech and Miami from the Coastal isn't bad, but it would've been nice to get Duke instead of Georgia Tech, North Carolina, or Virginia. There aren't any back-to-back road games, but it's an annoying home-road run the entire way with no two games in a row at home, either. If there are any dreams of going bowling, the wins have to come early with a finishing kick of Georgia Tech, at Clemson, Florida State, and at North Carolina.
Best Offensive Player: Senior WR Kevin Dorsey. TE Matt Furstenburg belongs in the debate as well. Dorsey is the kind of polished veteran receiver who helps make young quarterbacks better. At 6-2 and 210 pounds, he's an easy to find target, with the sticky hands and efficient routes to complement his size. Despite sitting out a pair of games with a foot injury, and getting questionable support at quarterback, he still managed to grab a team-best 45 balls for 573 yards and three touchdowns.
Best Defensive Player: Senior DE Joe Vellano. If Vellano isn't the hardest working man in college football, he certainly belongs in the top 10. A throwback warrior on the inside, he plays to the whistle and with enough intensity to join wind and solar as one of this country's best sources of alternative energy. The two-time All-ACC pick, and 2011 All-American, racked up an impressive 94 tackles last fall to go along with 7.5 stops for loss, 2.5 sacks and a pair of fumble recoveries. Moving from tackle to end in the new 3-4 alignment won't have any impact on his production or his ability to blow up opposing gameplans.
Key players to a successful season: The offensive linemen. Maryland is likely only to go as far as the retooled line will take it this season. The offense, in general, needs a facelift. The blockers, in particular, must create more daylight for the new backs, and more time for QB C.J. Brown. Unfortunately, there's no true anchor on the inside, and a history of injuries that could sap the group's depth. If the unit plays the way it did in 2011, the attack has no chance of evolving from last season's middling production.
The season will be a success if ... the Terps are still contending for bowl-eligibility late in the year. Above all else, Maryland needs hope and signs of progress, both of which will be the by-products of additional victories. The early part of the schedule is built for a quick start, with winnable games versus William & Mary, Temple and Connecticut to start the season. If the program is playing meaningful football games in November, it'll relieve a ton of heat from Randy Edsall and his reconfigured coaching staff.
Key game: Sept. 15 vs. Connecticut. Every game of 2012 is going to be important for beleaguered head coach Randy Edsall. This visit from his former team is going to be especially poignant. Edsall raised a lot of eyebrows—and a few tempers—when he suddenly left the Huskies for the Terrapins, a seemingly lateral move. Beyond the fact that familiarity can sometimes breed contempt, this is the kind of home game that Maryland has to win if it plans on showing the type of progress that's going to be essential this fall.
2011 Fun Stats:
- Rushing yards per game: Maryland 169.3 – Opponents 219.8
- Time of possession: Maryland 25:16 – Opponents 34:44
- First-quarter scoring: Maryland 54 - Opponents 111
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