Fear the Turtle? Depends on who you talk to. There seems to be a very big standard deviation in terms of where college football gurus have the Maryland Terrapins going this year. It all depends on how much you believe the running game (ranked 82nd in the nation last year) will improve in 2011. Yes, the defense returns 7/10 tacklers from last fall, so it’s going to be on the O to get it done in College Park. And Terps starting signal caller Danny O’Brien could bring home the Davey O’Brien this fall (see what I did there?) as he’s the best returning passer in the ACC.
Over the years, the Terrapins have produced several prominent quarterbacks. Starting with three consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) championships from 1983 to 1985, the program was sometimes referred to as “Quarterback U”.Since then, Maryland quarterbacks Boomer Esiason, Frank Reich, Stan Gelbaugh, Neil O’Donnell, Scott Zolak, and Scott Milanovich have been considered part of that tradition.
2010 was: very successful; the 9-4 season capped off by a 51-20 routing of East Carolina in the Military Bowl was exactly what this college basketball school needs, at a time when the hoops program is in transition. Anyways Maryland was decent on D (6th nationally in defensive TDs scored, 21st against the run, 38th in scoring) but pretty bad on O (80th overall, 82nd in rushing and 65th in passing)
BMOCs: QB Danny O’Brien threw for almost 2,500 yards and 22 TDs, second most in school history. RB Davin Meggett will lead a rushing attack that is expected to be much improved. But the stock of RB D.J. Adams and WR Adrian Coxson should rise in 2011 as well. The players at the two hybrid positions, ROCK and STAR will be key to the D having another successful season. Kenny Tate is all-conference at the Star position, a hybrid of OLB and DB. David Mackall mans the Rock position, a synergy of OLB and DE
2011 will be fruitful if: the offense does what you think it can. If you’re one of those believers. They lost their top two receivers, but the solid OL returns. If Demetrius Hartsfield, Joe Vellano and A.J. Francis have solid years again, the d will be solid. Maryland returns 75% of their two deep on both sides of the ball
2011 will be awful if: the Terrapins struggle to replace the departed talent at WR and the defense takes a step backward. To quote the villain from “free world,” in “8 Mile,” “B. Rabbit? This is a turtle race.” The Terps were 4th in the nation in tunover margin, and that will be CRUCIAL to building off 2010’s success. Former coach Ralph Friedgen was very popular, and his messy divorce from the program was looked upon unfavorably by the fans. But Randy Edsall built the UConn program up from nothing, so he seems to be a more than adequate successor. And he has talent to work with.
Bottom Line: Anyone can go 6-6 in the Big East. But if SU’s passing game is for real, they should go back to a bowl, possibly 8-4 or 9-3. They probably won’t compete for a league title just yet, but as long as regime change goes smoothly (as unpredictable a wild card as you’ll find) things will be fine.
Maryland Rankings: #33 Athlon, #43 Lindy’s, #59 Phil Steele
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