Maryland Preview 2006 Further Analysis
Maryland Terrapins
Posted Jul 31, 2006

Maryland Terrapins Preview 2006 - Further Analysis

1st and Ten – Missing the Man – It didn’t take long for the Terp defensive coaching staff to understand what they had in former linebacker D’Qwell Jackson.  If it moved, he tackled it.  The entire defense seemed to funnel everything back into Jackson; they relied on #52 to be the stopper.  But, as he leaves a lasting legacy, he also leaves a massive hole in this defense.  Just as the coaching staff didn’t lose much sleep when EJ Henderson went to the NFL prior to Jackson’s arrival on the scene, don’t believe that they’ll be wallowing in the mire, crying for Jackson to return.  They’re fairly confident that linebacking corps will be solid.  As such, David Holloway could be the next All-ACC linebacker for the Terps.  The 6’2, 220 pound speedster could actually be a strong safety with the way that he can run, but for the Terps, his speed at the linebacker spot is exactly what they build their defense around.  Holloway had 61 tackles last season.  If he’s not the playmaker in Jackson’s mold, it might be the much-hyped Wesley Jefferson.  As a redshirt sophomore, he tacked on 57 tackles and should take over the middle linebacker spot this fall.  There’s no more waiting for Jefferson to step up and fulfill his enormous potential; it’s time for the young man to take control of this defense in Jackson’s void.  Perhaps the reality of the situation is that Jackson is an irreplaceable entity and that neither Holloway nor Jefferson can adequately replace him.  Well, no one is irreplaceable, but then again, Maryland will definitely be missing the Man, if the Maryland linebackers don’t respond to the pressure of leading this defense in 2006. 

2nd and Seven – Stretch Armstrong – Unfortunately, the Terps don’t have the services of one Stretch Armstrong, so they’ll be searching for a downfield threat who can stretch the field deep downfield.  Surprisingly, the one player who really opened things up downfield consistently last year was tight end specimen Vernon Davis.  In a BCS conference, if your team can’t push defenses downfield, they won’t win four games.  If the safeties can sit 12 yards from the line of scrimmage and stay on top of the receivers, all the while, still be a major factor in the run defense game plan, your offense is going to be in trouble.  Luckily, the Terps do have some receivers who can run – Derrius Heyward-Bey can fly, but is he going to be consistent enough of a threat to force defensive backs to be on their heels more than they’d like?  He’d better be.  If not, then Danny Oquendo (a track hurdler) and/or Drew Weatherly will have to fill that role for Maryland QB Sam Hollenbach.

3rd and Three – Four on lockdown – For the past three years, the Maryland pass defense has been strong, to say the least.  In each of those three years, the Terps haven’t given up more than 185 yards per game through the air.  Sure, it’s helped to have DBs like Dominique Foxworth, Gerrick McPhearson and Madieu Williams patrolling the secondary.  Last year, the keys to the secondary were handed over to cornerback Josh Wilson.  The senior is one of the best cover corners in the ACC and should challenge for first team All-ACC honors.  Last year, he racked up 73 tackles and broke up eight passes, the returning leader for the Terps in 2006 in those categories.  With McPhearson off to the NFL, the spot opposite Wilson will see a significant share of the action, but if teams dare to test Wilson, it might not work out well for them.

4th and One – The Fridge is back – Sitting in the Georgia Tech locker room back in 1999, graduate assistant John Donovan (now Maryland’s QB coach) pulled out a binder that looked like the New York City phone book.  When pressed as to what that monstrosity was, Donovan responded with “that’s Ralph’s playbook”.  Shoot, are those pages single-sided?  Ralph Friedgen’s playbook was only rivaled by a copy of War and Peace, but Ralph always put it to good use when he was the offensive coordinator at Georgia Tech, among other coaching stops.  Some coaches have a knack of knowing what play to call, at the right time with the right personnel on the field.  His experience calling plays in the NFL with the Chargers helped him to take advantage of matchups.  Whoa, hold on, he’s the head coach, not the offensive coordinator any more.  Sure, he’s the head man, but after some coaching staff maneuvering, it looks more and more like Friedgen will be calling the offensive plays this fall.  Considering how the Maryland offense has struggled at times the last two years, the Terps need his presence with the play card in his hand.  Even if Friedgen doesn’t have the absolute final say for the play call, the timing of his being more involved with the offense coincides with this being Friedgen’s most critical year in College Park.

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