My Terp Football Preview For College Football Zealots

7/1/2011 12:00:00 AM The good folks at College Football Zealots asked if I would be so kind as to participate in a Q and A about Maryland Football for their site.  The piece on Maryland drops on July 1st; but I decided to cross post my answers here since things are pretty quiet on the basketball recruiting front.  Enjoy! (PS: Don't say I don't care about the football team!)

1. Randy Edsall was successful in his time at UConn. Now that he's taken over at Maryland what are the expectations that he is facing as he inherits a team that went 9-4 last year?
I'd say the expectations are pretty high.  From a personnel standpoint, Edsall inherits the reigning ACC Freshman of the Year in QB Danny O'Brien.  O'Brien didn't start until the 4th game of the season and still amassed 22 TDs against 8 INTs.  The Terps finally have the quarterback we've all been waiting for so now is not the time for shallow expectations.  Edsall is also dealing with the fact that he is, at best, the second choice in the eyes of most fans and alumni.  AD, Kevin Anderson, got rid of Ralph Freidgen because attendence was dwindling.  Most Terp fans thought that Mike Leach could solve that problem.  The Edsall hiring was a disappointment in the eyes of many.  He needs to build upon the achievements of last season early or the fans could turn on him quickly.

2. Maryland finished 10th in the ACC in passing yards allowed. Who needs to step up this year to help the Terps improve in this area?
The Terps have a new defensive coordinator in Todd Bradford.  He seems to favor versatility as opposed to position expertise.  He's moved a potential Thorpe Award candidate in Kenny Tate to Middle Linebacker.  He's also moved David Mackall from LB to DE; while two other secondary players, Desmond Kearse and Mario Rowson have transitioned to the Linebacking Corps.  The benefit for the Terps is that they can move from the 3-4 to a nickel or even a dime package without having to substitute players.  Will any of this help the Terps stop the passing game?  Remains to be the seen.  At the very least, these guys should be able to stop the intermediate passing game with all that speed at LB.

3. Maryland loses a couple of big weapons in Torrey Smith and Da'Rel Scott off of last years team. Who do you see stepping up and filling their shoes this year?
Torrey Smith is basically irreplaceable. There are no NFL first rounders in the current crop of receivers. Kevin Dorsey and Quinton McCree are the best candidates to fill Torrey's shoes. Neither of them caught more than 20 balls last year, so it's likely that the receiving corps will not have a standout player.  As for replacing Da'Rel Scott, the Terps will be fine.  Davin Meggett (son of former NY Giants punt returner, David Meggett) actually led the team in rushing yards last season with 720 (Scott had 708).  Freshman DJ Adams led the team with 11 rushing TDs.  So, the Terps have their Mr. Inside and Mr. Outside.  Scott caught some balls out of the backfield, so hopefully Meggett has worked on his receiving skills this off season.

4. Who are some newcomers that can make an immediate impact this year?
Just like any coach who is in his first year; there has been some attrition from the original class of 2011.  The two best players who decided to stick with Edsall are:
-Quinton Jefferson - 6'4 230lb WR
-Nathaniel Clarke - 6'4" 310 OL
Jefferson could be the heir apparent to Torrey Smith.  His size has many salivating but his so-so speed figure (4.6 in the 40) leaves me hoping that he is a great route runner.  As for Clarke, he could be the right tackle that the Terps need to protect the QB's blind side (O'Brien is a lefty).

5. Looking at the schedule, what are the most important games this year (and why)?
The Terps have taken a lot of criticism lately for filling the non-conference slate with cupcakes like Florida International.  Well, this year is different.  In addition to the annual border war with West Virginia; Notre Dame also appears on the out-of-conference schedule. Both games are at home (ND is at Fed Ex Field in Landover, MD) and are hugely important if the Terps hope to have a national profile at year's end. Of course the Terps open the year at home on Labor Day night against Miami.  The game is nationally televised on ESPN.  It doesn't get more important than starting the season off with a win.

6. What is your gut feeling on the final record for the 2011 season and what makes the season successful in your eyes?
I've never played quarterback; but I've watched enough football to know when I see a good one-- and Danny O'Brien is a good one. How many D-I schools can say that they are thrilled with their QB?  10? 15?  Well, Terp fans love theirs.  It doesn't matter what the prognosticators say, Maryland expects bigger and better things from the football team this year as O'Brien enters his sophomore season. Most of Mayland's tough games are at home and that will give them an edge against the better teams.  FSU in Tallahassee will be tough and I think they will struggle at Georgia Tech.  I'll throw in one more loss because the Terps are still outclassed athletically by some teams on the schedule.  My prediction: 9-3

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