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2009 Maryland Preview - Offense
Maryland QB Chris Turner
Maryland QB Chris Turner
CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jun 5, 2009


CollegeFootballNews.com 2009 Preview - Maryland Terrapin Offense

Maryland Terrapins

Preview 2009 - Offense

- 2009 CFN Maryland Preview | 2009 Maryland Offense
- 2009 Maryland Defense | 2009 Maryland Depth Chart
- 2008 Maryland Preview | 2007 Maryland Preview | 2006 Maryland Preview 
 

What you need to know: Attracting explosive skill position players to College Park has not been a problem during the Ralph Friedgen era. Developing an efficient passer who can get the most out of those athletes, however, has been. Chris Turner will be trying to change that trend in his third year as the starter and his final one with the program. He’ll have to deliver if the Terrapins are to improve on last year’s No. 92 ranking in scoring. He has the luxury of playing with All-ACC RB Da’Rel Scott and a precocious corps of receivers that’ll soon point to sophomore Torrey Smith as its cover boy. The biggest concern, by far, revolves around an offensive line that’s replacing three starters and is a little short on star power. If this rebuilt group doesn’t gel early, Maryland is destined to once again have one of the league’s least efficient offenses.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Chris Turner
214-374, 2,516 yds, 13 TD, 11 INT
Rushing: Da'Rei Scott
209 carries, 1,133 yds, 8 TD
Receiving: Torrey Smith
24 catches, 336 yds, 2 TD

Star of the offense: Junior RB Da’Rel Scott
Player who has to step up and become a star: Senior QB Chris Turner
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore WR Torrey Smith
Best pro prospect: Scott
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Scott, 2) Smith, 3) Senior C Phil Costa
Strength of the offense: Speed at the skill positions, depth and talent in the running game
Weakness of the offense: Inconsistency at quarterback, the offensive line, red zone scoring

Quarterbacks

Projected Starter: In 6-4, 220-pound senior Chris Turner, the Terrapins have the luxury of a third-year starter behind center. Unlike the last two seasons, he enters the summer as the undisputed leader in the race to be under center, which is one less distraction to worry about. A prototypical pocket passer, with enough arm strength to make all the throws, he could bust out in this final season with a better grasp of the system and fewer mental mistakes. A 12-game starter as a junior, he was a modest 214-of-374 for 2,516 yards, 13 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions, while taking a lot of hits throughout the year.

Projected Top Reserves:
The graduation of Jordan Steffy and transfer of Josh Portis mean 6-0, 190-pound sophomore Jamarr Robinson is locked in as the backup for this fall and the likely starter a year from now. A far more athletic option at the position, he’ll make plays with his feet, escape pressure, and force defenses to respect the strength of his arm. Because of his unique talents and career path, the staff plan on getting him a bunch of useful reps this season.  

Watch Out For ... NFL scouts to begin sniffing around College Park. Is Turner a slam-dunk pro prospect? No, but he has the experience and the raw physical skills as a passer to be a contender heading into his final year. Although the two-year totals don’t bear it out, he’s going to have a chance to surprise some people next spring. 
Strength
: Experience. When the discussion is the quarterback position, there’s no substitute for game experience. Turner has amassed plenty of it over the last two seasons, starting 20 games, going 5-1 versus Top 25 opponents, and getting a tighter grip on the nuances of the offense. 
Weakness: Proven depth. Turner has been durable, but if that changes, the Terps will hold their breath since Robinson has never taken a snap and he’s the only scholarship quarterback on the roster until freshmen C.J. Brown and Danny O’Brien arrive.
Outlook: An awful lot is riding on the maturation of Turner, whose inconsistency as a passer has hurt the offense. In his final season, he needs to stop the cycle of up-and-down play and perform at a high level throughout the year. The potential is there for that to happen, but now he has to go out and seize it.
Rating
: 6.5

Running Backs

Projected Starters: So much for the awkward rebuilding process that was supposed to take place in 2008. Life after Lance Ball and Keon Lattimore wasn’t so bad after all, thanks to the emergence of 5-11, 200-pound junior Da'Rel Scott,  who parlayed 1,133 yards and eight touchdowns on 209 carries into a spot on the All-ACC first team. He also has soft hands, catching 21 passes for 171 yards. A former 100-meter sprint champ in high school, he has breakaway speed and runs with the pad level to bull his way to extra yards.

Provided there are no hitches from offseason knee surgery, Scott’s lead blocker will be 6-1, 245-pound senior Cory Jackson, the recipient of the 2008 Unsung Hero Award on offense. A pile-driver when he gets up on his man, he caught a dozen passes for 106, but takes particular delight in creating running room for the backs.

Projected Top Reserves:
While junior Morgan Green has the skills of a starting back, it hasn’t translated into production in September. A key 2005 recruit and one of the team’s strongest players, he’s been stifled by injuries. Still, there’s hope for the 5-11, 220-pound battering ram. He ended last year with 72 yards and a score on 10 carries in the Humanitarian Bowl and ran very well throughout the spring.

In his first season on campus, sophomore Davin Meggett was a revelation for the Terps, starting a pair of games and turning 89 carries into 457 yards and four touchdowns. At a stocky 5-8 and 220 pounds, he runs with good leg drive and leverage, and will make people miss in the open field. Even in a deep backfield, he’s earned a spot in this rotation.

Watch Out For ... the backs to get more involved in the passing game. And why not? All of the runners, but particularly Scott, ought to get as opportunities in space as possible. This group accounted for 43 receptions last fall, which the coaching staff would like to double in 2009.
Strength: Depth. Few outside the program expected this to be a strength so soon after the graduations of Ball and Lattimore. However, here are the Terrapins, sporting an All-ACC running back and a pair of backups, who are good enough to start for a bunch of schools.
Weakness: Durability. Besides the play of the offensive line, this is the one thing that’s capable of slowing down this talented group of backs. Scott was dinged up a lot last fall, raising questions he can be a workhorse. Green has been fragile throughout his college career. And Jackson is still recovering from a complicated knee procedure. 
Outlook: If you’re looking for optimism heading into the season, this is where you begin. Maryland has the talent, speed, and depth at running back to rival just about any program in the conference. The keys for 2009 will be to stay healthy and cross your fingers that the offensive line gels. If Green can finally play a full season, the Terps will also have a power back to complement Scott.
Rating
: 8.5

Receivers

Projected Starters: Out with the old, and in with the new. Not only did Maryland lose Darrius Heyward-Bey, but last year’s second and third-leading receivers are gone as well, putting pressure on the underclassmen to excel. One of those kids who’s ready to accept the challenge is 6-1, 200-pound sophomore Torrey Smith, a budding star at “X” receiver. A starter over the second half of the season, he wound up with 24 catches for 336 yards and two scores, a fraction of what he’s capable of in 2009. More than just a great athlete, he brings it on every down, making him a hit with the coaching staff.

Clinging to “Z” receiver is 6-2, 200-pound junior Emani Lee-Odai, who had a dozen catches for 115 yards in his first full season. Physically, he’ll remind folks of Heyward-Bey, combining 4.4 speed into a big, solid frame. However, he has work to do on the fundamentals before all of those natural gifts can be parlayed into big-time production.

On the inside, the “F” position belongs to shifty sophomore Ronnie Tyler, who bagged plenty of valuable experience in his first year. He provided a glimpse of his potential in 13 games, making 20 grabs for 225 yards and a touchdown. Very quick in space and sure-handed, he’s earned more looks in his second season.

Even at this late stage, tight end is going to be a great unknown for the Terrapins, as they hunt for Dan Gronkowski’s replacement. While nobody stepped up in the spring, few doubt that 6-4, 260-pound sophomore Lansford Watson has the biggest upside at the position, catching 10 passes for 115 yards as a rookie. Big and athletic, he has the long stride to create match up headaches.

Projected Top Reserves: A member of the ACC All-Freshman squad in 2007, 6-1, 180-pound LaQuan Williams missed most of 2008 with nagging injuries. He’s expected back this summer, determined to make up ground in the competition at “Z” receiver. A fluid athlete, who’ll make the improbable catch, he has to improve on the routine throws.

Also in the mix at “Z” is 6-2, 205-pound redshirt freshman Kevin Dorsey, a candidate for playing time as a rookie before getting hurt. He was moved from “X” during spring in a move to fast-track him into an expanded. A well-sized athlete, who can break through jams, he has the big hands needed to cherry pick balls out of the air.

One the fastest movers this spring was 6-1, 190-pound sophomore Quintin McCree, who toyed with the secondary in the Red-White game, catching four passes for 163 yards and three long scores. A homerun hitter, with blazing speed, he’s making a concerted effort for more playing time at the hotly-contested “Z” spot.

Watch Out For ...
Lee-Odai to get shifted to “X” in order to pave the way for Dorsey and McCree. The two underclassmen looked better in the spring and have greater upside, which should convince the staff to eliminate as many obstacles to playing time as possible.
Strength: Athleticism and speed. Heyward-Bey may be in Oakland, but if there’s a drop-off in eye-popping athletes, you’ll need a magnifying glass to locate it. There’s good size and great speed everywhere, which should equal lots of big plays once the receivers develop a rhythm with Chris Turner.
Weakness: Consistency. One game, the receivers will be all-world, but the next, they’ll disappear. The primary objective of receivers coach Lee Hull is to get these kids to a place, where the drops are limited and the routes are much more precise.
Outlook: Don’t be duped into believing that the Terp receivers will crash and burn in a post-Heyward-Bey world. They won’t. Yeah, there are going to be some rocky moments, but with Smith now carrying the banner and the young kids improving, this could be a scary collection of playmakers by the middle of October.
Rating
: 7

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: Deep breath, Terp fans. This could the program’s biggest concern heading into the 2009 season. The three departed starters, Edwin Williams, Jaimie Thomas, and Scott Burley, were all on the ACC honor roll, creating a mad scramble to fill the openings. One of the few guarantees is that 6-3, 300-pound senior Phil Costa will succeed Williams at center. An explosive, intelligent two-year starter, he was a natural fit to move to the pivot. He’ll maintain leadership at the position, while bringing the upper body strength to open holes for the running game.

Provided academic issues don’t complicate things, 6-7, 310-pound junior Bruce Campbell is slated to hold down left tackle. A reserve during the first half of 2008, he went on to starts the final seven games of the year. A former mega-recruit from the 2007 recruiting class, he has the footwork to pass protect and is one of the strongest players on the team. If he dedicates himself, he won’t hit his ceiling until he’s in the NFL.

This is where the situation gets very hazy. The favorite at right tackle is 6-4, 280-pound junior Paul Pinegar, the lone player at the position with game experience. He has limited upside, however, and will be vulnerable in the summer if the younger tackles prove to be worthy of a starting assignment.

The two guards are even more unsettled. On the left side, 6-4, 320-pound sophomore Lamar Young began spring atop the depth chart, but hasn’t been able to lock down the job. A massive player, with good upper body strength, he’s hoping to eventually be a road grader once he gets more comfortable as an every-day player.

At right guard, 6-4, 320-pound redshirt freshman Justin Lewis should do no worse than a spot in the regular rotation. Like Young, he’s another drive blocker, with the attitude and the power to be exactly what the running game needs from its blockers. The more he plays, the better he’s going to get at this early stage of his career.

Projected Top Reserves: Pinegar’s stiffest competition is coming from 6-6, 305-pound sophomore Tyler Bowen, a better overall specimen, but with no relevant experience. Limited by foot surgery a year ago, he began spring with an eye on that opening at right tackle.

Sophomore Andrew Gonnella basically shared snaps with the first team in the spring, and will go toe-to-toe with Young at left guard again in the summer. A former walk-on, he’s bulked up since arriving and has basically hustled his way to within a solid month of practice of a starting assignment.

Watch Out For ... things to heat up in August. Costa is set in stone, as will Campbell if his grades are in order. After those two, however, there’ll be jump balls for the other three openings. While competition is healthy, the coaching staff would like to have a starting five established long before the opener with Cal.
Strength: Raw power. This group might be young and largely inexperienced, but it still has a ton of functional strength that should benefit the running game. Pinegar aside, the projected starters are all at least 300 pounds and very strong in the upper body.
Weakness: Lack of proven talent. Losing five seniors to graduation has left the offensive line in a precarious situation. As many as three untested underclassmen could be in the starting lineup, and the reserves are going to be painfully green. The Terps have a specific need in pass protection, a nagging problem in recent years.
Outlook: It’s transition time for an offensive line that’s just rife with question marks. Costa will be fine at center, but after him, there are no sure-things. Even Campbell, a potential all-star, sat out spring to concentrate on the books. This unit will hinder the offense more than it helps it this fall.
Rating
: 6