B1G 2013 // Maryland Cocktail Party Preview

Patrick McDermott

Ed Note: Hi Everyone! We are thrilled to introduce one of the newest members of the B1G today. Sure, Maryland will spend the next year in the ACC, but we'd like to give you all the information you need to know about them as we watch from afar. Pete and Dave from Testudo Times have graciously agreed to help out this week and bring you today's Maryland Cocktail Party Preview. Enjoy! - Jesse

About Last Season

The good news...

Maryland can't possibly lose their top four quarterbacks in one season again, right?

That's why people need to look beyond last season's 4-8 record. In a vacuum, 4-8 doesn't seem much better than 2-10. But significant progress did take place; it was just overshadowed by the Angry Maryland Quarterback Hating God (Yes, we have an Angry Quarterback Hating God...we have plans to leave him in the ACC when we depart for the B1G, preferably with NC State). Losing your top four quarterbacks to injury over the course of four weeks tends to inhibit your ability to win games on a consistent basis. Having to switch quarterbacks almost weekly until you're on your 5th string quarterback, who happens to be a true-freshman that was previously playing linebacker, will most likely outshine any significant advancements your program has made over the past season. But without those quarterback injuries, Maryland likely could have finished with at least six wins last year.

For now, just think about how sweet 2013 is going to be when Stefon Diggs and Deon Long are both on the field at the same time, along with a quarterback fully capable of running the offense, and you have something to look forward to this fall. -Dave T.

The bad news...

In his first two seasons in College Park, Randy Edsall has notched just six wins, while losing 18 games. As we just said, certain things, like weekly injuries to your starting quarterback, can't be controlled, but 2012 was still disappointing to most. Many expected the 2012 season to be a significant step forward for head coach Randy Edsall and the Maryland football program. Reaching a bowl game seemed like an achievable goal, while most just wanted to forget about the disastrous 2011 season as quickly as possible. While significant improvements were made throughout the program, injuries and another sub-par record overshadowed many of those accomplishments, leaving many fans upset about not being in a bowl game for the third time in the last four years. Any momentum gained by Edsall's initial hire are mostly gone. Most expect this to be the do or die season for him, especially with the competition picking up in a big way in 2014. I very much believe that Edsall and co can be successful, but their window of opportunity is closing quickly.

Additionally, as Pete will discuss below, Maryland lost the stars of their d-line as A.J. Francis and Joe Vellano both graduated. Settling that position, having a successful last season in the ACC and building momentum heading into the B1G are all paramount for Maryland. -Dave T.

On The Offensive Side Of The Ball

The good news...

Stefon Diggs + Deon Long = $$$.

After a fantastic freshman campaign that saw him live up to hype surrounding his commitment to Maryland, freshman wide receiver Stefon Diggs should have an ever greater opportunity to deliver in 2013, when he's joined by juco WR stud Deon Long. Last season, despite having five different quarterbacks and often being the focal point of opposing defenses, Diggs still finished with 848 yards on 54 receptions, scoring six touchdowns. He also returned 48 punts/kickoffs for 935 yards and two touchdowns. Any time Diggs touched the ball, there was the potential for something special to happen. Adding in Deon Long, who himself set records in junior college, should open up Diggs even more than last season, giving the Terps and starting QB C.J. Brown two homerun threats on offense.

Really, I should just show this highlight video of Diggs from last season. It articulates his awesomnes much better than I can: -Dave T.



The bad news...

Can Maryland stay healthy at quarterback? While all of the QBs injured last season are expected to be ready to go by the Fall, most have been held out of Spring practice, meaning there is going to be some rust that needs to be knocked off quickly when Maryland opens camp this summer. The Terps need to get their offense humming quickly, taking advantage of an easy opening schedule before playing West Virginia and Florida State.

Maryland needs to also improve their rushing game, where they averaged just 2.6 yards per carry last season. Granted, some of that was due to the fact that opposing defenses knew Maryland wasn't going to do much throwing with Shawn Petty under center, but it's an area that still needs to (and likely will) see improvement if Maryland is going to be successful this season. -Dave T.

The Defensive Side Of The Ball

The good news...

Maryland's secondary looks pretty stacked again. After an off-year last season that had to deal with injuries and position changes, the Terps see six of their seven key secondary players return this season. Dexter McDougle and Jeremiah Johnson make for one of the most talented (if somewhat inconsistent) cornerbacking duos in the conference, and the safety tandem of Sean Davis and Anthony Nixon were thrust into game action early as true freshmen last year. A.J. Hendy, Isaac Goins and Zach Dancel are all proven back-ups at the collegiate level, and the Terps' ability to stop the pass should be much improved this season.

The linebacking unit looks excellent as usual this year, and Brian Stewart's 3-4 is really starting to take shape. Despite the major departures of Demetrius Hartsfield, Darin Drakeford and Kenny Tate, the Terps bring back two great inside 'backers with playing experience in Cole Farrand and L.A. Goree, and turned star safety Matt Robinson into an outside linebacker to give them additional pressure from the outside. Opposite Robinson will be Marcus Whitfield, an oft-injured beast of a linebacker who has loads of talent. Also notable are Alex Twine and Abner Logan, two back-ups who should pressure for lots of playing time. - Pete V.

The bad news...

The defensive line is completely depleted. A.J. Francis and Joe Vellano were the heart and soul of the Maryland program for the last four years, and with the two of them gone the line is nearly unrecognizable. Quinton Jefferson and Keith Bowers are going to try and fill in on the ends, but Jefferson has little experience on the playing field (although extraordinary talent) and Bowers was benched last season after starting as a true freshman. Massive Darius Kilgo will try to replace Francis at the nose, but the Terps have next to no depth there if he does not work out. Andre Monroe, who missed all of last season with an injury after a Freshman All-American year two seasons ago, may be the Terps' last hope on the line, but he's currently listed as Bowers's back-up. - Pete V.

On The Special Teams

The good news...

The Terps have an impossible amount of weapons in the return game. Deon Long and Will Likely are good enough to start just about anywhere in the country, but Stefon Diggs has to be in the conversation as one of the most dynamic playmakers around. Diggs will be the returner for the Terps this season, able to take one back at a moment's notice. - Pete V.

The bad news...

The kicking game is a much bigger question. Brad Craddock was benched in favor of a walk-on last season after missing two extra points and a potential game-winning 33-yard gimme against North Carolina State, but he's back in the starting position now. Nate Renfro had a great start to the year punting, but soon was averaging much closer to 30 yards per punt than 40. He is also returning as the starter, and the back-ups for Craddock and Renfro are walk-ons Brendan Magistro and Michael Tart, respectively. - Pete V.

On The Schedule

The good news...

The first three games of the year should be wins - at home against Florida International and FCS opponent Old Dominion before traveling to Connecticut to face the Huskies. West Virginia, the next opponent (in Baltimore), should not be nearly as fearsome as they have been in years past, and that should be a good check-game for the Terps early on.

In the conference schedule, they get Clemson and UVA at home, which are always tough road games, and have a potential road conference win in Wake Forest.

But of course, the best news is this is the Terps' last year in the conference before heading to real football territory. - Pete V.

The bad news...

After the West Virginia game, the Terps get a real-life wake-up call in the form of a road game against Florida State. Virginia Tech and NC State will be hard contests away from home as well, and no matter where they're playing them Clemson is always a tough ask. - Pete V.

If You're Talking To A Terrapin Fan, Don't Mention:

The ACC, Debbie Yow, Angry Maryland Quarterback Hating God.

Maryland's divorce from the ACC is getting ugly, with both sides now seeming to despise the other and anxiously awaiting the results of the lawsuits each has filed relating to Maryland's move. Initially, the reaction from many Maryland fans about the move for the B1G wasn't super positive, as they lamented leaving the conference they helped found, along with the rivalries that have been developed over the last 50+ years. But over time, many have warmed up to the idea, partially as a result of the bitterness the ACC has shown towards Maryland. Additionally, many initially believed that money was the driving factor is Maryland's decision to leave the ACC. But as more learned that the move to the Big Ten was driven more about how the ACC was treating Maryland, such as the conference's decision to make Pitt the school's primary rival, the majority of the fan base has come on board about the decision, while also increasing their displeasure for the ACC. -Dave T.

Do Mention:

Fear the Turtle, hatred for Duke, Never Pick State, anything bashing the ACC. Also, Stefon Diggs, Maryland basketball, and Scott Van Pelt. -Dave T.

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