The first time I ever tried Old Bay was when a crab boil recipe called for it. I thought, "Hmmm... a cup of the stuff seems like overkill, but who am I to argue with a recipe?" Truth be told, it ended up pretty delicious and I was sold. I've used the stuff on a lot of different seafood applications, and while the idea of an Old Bay Beer still sounds a bit much, I can understand the Maryland contingent speaking its praises. So, in honor of the great state of Maryland, it's slew of crabs, and the deliciousness of Old Bay, I bring you the B1G 2015 Maryland Potluck. Today we are tackling reasonable expectations for wins and losses, the trage-comedy that is the Maryland offense and defense - at times, Coach Randy Edsalls viability, and the Chessie. It's a good week, and I hope you all brought an appetite.
As always, the recipes are in the links! Let me know if anyone actually tries them. I generally don't...
Appetizer - Old Bay Hot Hummus Dip
So it’s year two of the Big Ten experience for the Maryland Terrapins. The first year? Well, it wasn’t exactly perfect with a shaky 7-6 record and an obliteration - that we all saw coming from a mile away - in their bowl game against Stanford. In general, it was probably about what you would have expected, but if you’re a Terps fan, not what you really would like to happen. So what do you have on the horizon for 2015? A fairly brutal schedule with games at both Ohio State and Michigan State, the front runners for 2015, crossovers at Iowa and vs. Wisconsin - neither will be pushovers - and a noncon featuring a trip to Morgantown because hey, Wf’nV y’all. What should we realistically expect for this season? Would it be a stretch to say an accomplishment for this team is 6-6?
DJ Carver: I don't think it's a stretch to say 6-6 would be an accomplishment. Maryland isn't only breaking in new receivers, they're also essentially switching philosophies on offense and defense. Maryland is going from a zone read to a more pro-style system, or to go somewhere in the middle a more spread system, as well as the change from a 3-4 to 4-3 on defense. On top of that, they're breaking in a new QB, WRs and a complete new set of LBs. If Maryland can put it together to go 6-6 that would be an accomplishment. I think 3-1 in the OOC is a reasonable expectation but BG looms as the dark horse upset candidate for the 2-2 mark, which would mean they need to go at least 4-4 or 3-5 in conference. They should beat Indiana and Rutgers, and I'd even argue Iowa is a should win, which would get them where they need to go. It depends on Michigan's transformation and Penn State's progress, but those two teams are beatable if the defense can make a solid transition.
Andrew Kraszewski: New QB, new WRs, rebuilt OL, new DC and defensive scheme, pretty much all new personnel in the front seven, mediocre RBs...that's a lot of change to soak up in one year. That's not to say Maryland can't have lightning strike in a few of those spots and get to 7 or 8 before their bowl, but it'll be hard. It's not like the division is getting any easier, and the noncon really only has 1 definite win, even if Maryland will be favored in 2 of the others. This team has a few definite strengths- the secondary, placekicking, and punt and kick returns. Everything else is varying degrees of 'Ionno' at this point, so I'm setting my expectations low until we see what they've got here.
Ray Ransom: Rutgers and Maryland find themselves in a similar situation. I think 6-6 and a bowl would be a major accomplishment for the terps in what should be a rebuilding year. That said, I don't see much upside in Maryland, whereas I think RU could put together a surprising year. I mean, other than the fact that Maryland's uniforms have the ability to blind 2d6 creatures once per day.
LincolnParkWildcat: I expect Maryland to go 5-7 this year, with only two wins in the non-con and conference wins over Indiana, Iowa and Penn State.
Thomas Speth: I think Maryland goes 5-7 in spectacular fashion. How? Iowa's going to be bad, and I think Maryland sneaks one away there with a win in Iowa City, causing Iowa fans to burn down their new practice facility Ferentz doesn't show recruits anyway. I think they'll get one against the Mountaineers to help the Big Ten image. So two borderline signature wins (although in retrospect Iowa won't look like much) and losses to the likes of Bowling Green mean no bowling for the Terps.
Candystripes for Breakfast: 6-6 seems fairly reasonable. They could easily go 7-5 again, but since that would probably mean they beat both Rutgers and Indiana to do it, I'm going to go partial Homersota and say they only get one of those games this year.
Aaron Yorke: As long as the new starting quarterback isn't a disaster (and it shouldn't be, given the amount of experience and options available), this team should manage three Big Ten wins, which ought to be enough for another bowl game. I think another 4-4 conference record would be considered a nice step forward for Maryland considering the turnover at wide receiver and quarterback as well as expected improvement by Penn State and Michigan.
MNWIldcat: The Terps should have bowl eligibility on the horizon. You want to prove we Big Ten folk (yes, even the team that's tripped over itself and gone 5-7 the last two years) should give one, let alone two, shit(s) about Maryland? Go bowling. Maybe even win that bowl. Expect that. Otherwise you start to slip into Illinois/Purdue/Indiana territory. And you don't want to slip into that territory, because then you start cashing the B1G checks and complacency sets in.
Part of what made Maryland a trendy pick last year to be great is the depth of talent the Terrapins trotted out at various skill positions, specifically WR. Unfortunately, as DJ noted, losses of Stefon Diggs, Deon Long, Marcus Leak, and Juwan Winfree seems like a bad situation. Oh, and let’s not forget that we’re still not 100% of who will be throwing to them. The assumption is Caleb Rowe, but who knows if that’s a net positive or not. He has been injury prone to date, and everything behind him is more or less untested. Oh, and then there’s the RB position. I guess Wes Brown starts this season? He had 103 rushes last season in which he churned out a healthy 356 yards. Bottom line is that this offense wasn’t very good last season and lost a lot of talent. Are there any areas that give hope to the Terps? Will they bounce back and be as good as we thought they could be?
DJ: Are we talking offense only or defense? If we can include defense, the secondary should be a strength. Maryland returns Will Likely and Sean Davis has transitioned to corner where he played well towards the end of last season in spot duty due to injuries. The backups at corner all started at one point last season, so there is seasoned depth there. The safeties are both upper classmen who should be more than adequate.
AK: The hope, if my lurking in the Terposphere has yielded accurate intelligence, is that there is plenty of talent on the offensive side, at least from a recruiting perspective. In particular, a few of the young offensive linemen could represent a paradigm shift up front. The problem there is Maryland fans are insane to think two redshirt freshmen and a true freshman are going to step in, link arms, and regulate for 4 years. Just ask Michigan how relying on too many young OL goes, regardless of how talented they are. Still, I'd say tossing the young erstwhile studs in and letting them flail a bit while learning to swim is a better long-term option than parking them on the bench while Maryland's totally unremarkable upperclassman OL block for 3 YPC. It's most likely not going to be a great offense in either case; you might as well spend the year getting experience for the young bucks and setting up a potentially dynamic offense for the future.
RR: When Maryland was on, they had some pretty great offensive moments. A good mobile QB can really frustrate a defense and they had a pretty decent one (at least an experienced one) in CJ Brown. That being said, they weren't a team that could consistently grind out yards, even with the presence of all those playmakers. I think this year bodes poorly for the terps on offense, though I see them playing more and more like UConn did under Edsall. Decent run game, limit mistakes, hope the defense and ST can make game-changing plays.
LPW: Maryland will regress a little on offense.
TS: Maryland is going to have to have a great season from Rowe and what's left of his knees because even if previous results from the run game were encouraging, Maryland's probably going to run for about 15 yards total against MSU, OSU, and Wisconsin. If they have any hopes of A-pulling off a huge upset that keeps Edsall employed or B-going bowling, it's not going to be on the strength of what's essentially still an ACC running attack. Ask Nebraska how well their Big 12 run defense translated in year 2 /jet sweep /Wisconsin scored again
AY: The good news is that Rowe has seen significant playing time in three straight seasons and could be an improvement over Brown, who was always more of a runner than a thrower. The wide receiver situation looks dire, but senior Levern Jacobs is back in action after averaging a robust nine yards per target in 2013. He and Amba Etta-Tawo could be surprisingly effective if they're able to click with the new signal caller. Also, the offensive line returns three starters. I don't think there will be too much of a drop off, and Maryland's offense might even improve in 2015.
Side Dish - Chesapeake Corn Tomatoes via Old Bay
Truth be told, it’s somewhat remarkable Maryland was a bowl eligible team. From a stats perspective, Maryland was probably bottom half/bottom quarter on defense. In a weird quirk, they also defended the most plays from scrimmage last year in the Big Ten. I’m not sure that means much, but it’s worth noting. Anyhow, the Terrapins are moving to a 4-3 and moving pieces all over the field. Will Likely is a known quantity at DB, and his counterpart Sean Davis will be tasked with stopping the pass game in hopes of loading up the box. Can Maryland successfully make this transition and be more effective on defense? What would be the ideal outcome knowing that you’re making these changes and moving pieces all over? Can Wisconsin pull off the, "Wisconsin scored again" meme on a different new team in red?
DJ: Honestly, it's not the secondary I'm worried about. I'm worried about all new starting linebackers along with inexperienced DTs. The defensive ends should be a plus for Maryland as both were already pass rush specialists at the WILL in the 3-4. Wisconsin is RB U, and really it doesn't even matter if they pass I'm sure Maryland finds a way to allow Wisconsin to pull that off.
AK: I've never thought the defensive scheme deployed actually matters much. Most teams end up ditching their base to match the offense's personnel a large portion of the time anyway. That said, base scheme changes normally take a year or two; Wisconsin's effective switch to the 3-4 is the exception, not the rule. If Maryland's defense is as good or better last year, I doubt it'll be about the 4-3 unlocking any decided schematic advantage as much as about several new starters flourishing in expanded roles. And...with 59-0 being on the books, I don't think Wisco should be chirping about blowing anybody out anytime soon.
RR: I think Maryland will be lousy on defense in the early season, tighten up late in the season and start showing meaningful progress in the next 2-3 years. One thing to point out is that they have a lot of underrated athletes on the team, so this defense could make a lot of plays. Or, it could get totally rolled in embarrassing fashion. Y'know, like that second half against Rutgahs!
LPW: I've never been a fan of 3-4 defenses unless the defensive tackles are huge run-stuffers, and I'm not sure Maryland has anyone who can do that. The Terps should expect a long day against Wisconsin.
TS: Wisconsin pulled off switching defenses, but they switched a really good 4-3 into a really good 3-4 with known genius Dave Aranda leading the charge. On a related note, my sources in Madison are telling me that Gary Andersen definitely had Aranda locked in a closet before the CCG last year and it was a body double on the sidelines. He was only found a week after the game. Maryland is doing the exact opposite, I don't think changing to a new scheme is going to make a bad defense better, but it can't hurt I guess? /Wisconsin scored again "Oh yeah well /OSU scored again!" Yeah that's cool for the like 12 OSU fans on OTE I guess.
AY: I think it makes sense to make the switch to a 4-3 now, because Maryland is losing a lot of experience in the front seven. With so many good defensive backs coming back, the defense can be solid this year if another pass rush threat develops on the other said of Yannick Ngakoue.
MNW: Switching to another defense seems like a terrible idea, especially facing down a schedule that will run the ball at will against you. If teams disabuse themselves of the notion that they need to even consider the pass against Maryland, I can see it being a long year in College Park. Wisconsin may hit 60.
The comments on Coach Randy Edsall seem to be mixed. On one hand, the guy has been pretty pitiful overall - from a record and accomplishments standpoint - since he got here but he can recruit and that matters. Moreover, what should realistic expectations be for the guy? Facilities are coming, and that sweet B1G cash will pour in soon. Does he deserve more time or is he in over his head? I have no doubt every one of you will hedge on this question.
DJ: In over his head? Absolutely from a coaching standpoint. He has horrible clock management skills and I don't think he adds anything if he is going to override a play. As a program CEO? He isn't over his head at all and is probably the only reason he still has a job. He is a decent recruiter, not great, but he still has put together the Maryland Pride movement and got a lot of top talent to stay home. He has also convinced the BoR to drop a bunch of cash into practice facilities while transforming one of the historic buildings on campus to do it. I think realistically Randy's expectations are probably 6-6 to 7-5 each year with the occasional 8-4 or even 9-3, but not often. He's a good program builder, but he won't put you over the top by any means.
AK: First, the edge created by new facilities is an Alice in the court of the Red Queen thing. Every program must now constantly upgrade facilities as fast as they can, just to stay where they are in the arms race. So I'd give it 4-6 years before Maryland's new facilities are again outshone by OSU's new space elevator waterfall or whatever they install next.
But I digress... Randy Edsall. Of course we're hedging on him, two of his early teams went through injury plagues of biblical proportions. Blame him for not having his 5th-string QB ready to go if you want, but c'mon, man. He's got to get a little slack for that. Plus, the question of whether he deserves more time is now academic. The nature of the extension he got (and was an idiot to agree to) makes it pretty clear where the school is on him: you have a little more time, but we need to see results. What exactly those results need to look like, I don't know.
RR: Y'know when you get a piece of popcorn stuck in your teeth and it gets kinda sore and then it gets infected and then you have to get major surgery to remove it and then you find out that insurance doesn't cover popcorn-related surgeries, and you end up broke having to sell your body on the street just to buy popcorn and repeat the viscous cycle and you're all like "OH MY GOD THAT POPCORN WAS TOTALLY NOT WORTH IT." That's basically Dandy Edsall. Get that guy out of the conference and into the SEC where people are celebrated for being twats. You know...I bet Coach Hype will be available in a year or two...
LPW: Based on my earlier 5-7 prediction he'll be fired after this year. I guess his successor, whoever it will be, will reap the rewards of the expanded Cole field house and the in-state recruits.
TS: You never should've fired the Fridge. Period. You guys basically hired Tim Brewster with a little higher ceiling. Put Brewster at Maryland and he'd be doing the exact same thing Edsall is. Do you know who is a terrible coach? Tim Brewster. I'm not saying Edsall is a terrible coach but he does have all the coaching qualities of Tim Brewster. You know who else is great at recruiting? The Zooker. Fire Edsall, hire Zook. He'd keep #themovement together. Which amuses me, that movement. It's the EIGHTH best class in the Big Ten. You do realize that right? You know who else was a highly rated QB? Bart Houston, and he punted more than he threw last year.
C4B: I think 2 more years of Edsall is relatively safe to assume, unless he gets a Godfather offer from another school, or utterly bottoms out this season (which isn't impossible, just unlikely).
AY: I'd say that he deserves more time given how the program has been burned by injuries in recent years. Also, look at what's happened to UConn since Edsall left... Yuck.
MNW: Sure, give him more time. See, Jesse? I'm not hedging. I just want to see mediocrity continue around the conference. Including at Northwestern BECAUSE I'VE TOTALLY ACCEPTED MEDIOCRITY.
Maryland sells a 1.5 lb crab pretzel that kind of looks super absurd. It’s called the Chessie and apparently it’s crab, cheese, and a gigantic pretzel for two to four, because who the hell can eat that by themselves? I’m not sure if this is the most ridiculous stadium food in the Big Ten, but I’m willing to be it’s at least on the short list. Knowing that this exists, tell me your most insane stadium food experience. If you can’t think of one, how about your favorite ridiculous tailgate food experience. Really, I’m just pointing out that a 1.5 lb crab pretzel exists and people order it.
DJ: I've had it and it's delicious. you definitely need 2 people, if not 3, to finish the entire thing. I'll nit pick the "and people order it" statement for a minute. People not only order it, that thing is sold out by halftime and when you get there at half the wait is about 20-30 minutes to churn one out. Obviously the solution here is to sell it in more than one place and realize what the demand is, but wow who could of thought it'd be that popular? It's good mind you, but it's not the most fantastic thing you've ever eaten either.
AK: The 4th of July is over, the time for gluttony has passed has it not?
Not sure what came over me there. I'm not sure I've had anything especially exotic in a gameday setting. Knowing that I'm about to go into a stadium and yell and exert myself emotionally in public for 4 hours makes me prefer an established routine that I know my plumbing can handle: two shower beers, giant pile o' eggs and bacon on toast, then typically a few brown ales and a burger at a tailgate before heading into the stadium. I don't want to spend the 3rd quarter in the bathroom.
RR: I find myself feeling disgust, curiosity and affinity towards this cheese-crustacean thing, just like with the twerps. I would have gotten one at the Rutgers game last year but I was too full from that legendary comeback. You guys remember that? Oof, so full.
Most ridiculous food experience might be the Fat Yankee that my colleagues and I developed during the first Pinstripe Bowl trip. We basically went to each Yankees Stadium vendor, got something that looked pretty good, shoved into a sandwich and then enjoyed beating up on Iowa (that was Iowa right? Lousy defense, big fat white guys? From farther west than seems possible?) I believe mine was a cheese steak (wiz with), fried chicken, french fries (well done and crispy), mozzarella sticks, marinara sauce and cheese sauce. It was the Maryland Uniforms of the culinary world and it was sensational.
LPW: I usually order two hot dogs and a coke or two at a game in Evanston, so I'll answer with something different: the most ridiculous time I ever had at a stadium was going to a Wrigleyville bar before Northwestern played Illinois at Wrigley five years ago. I ordered a burger along with everyone else in the bar, and the kitchen wasn't adequately staffed, so a ton of hungry and angry people up and left after waiting for an hour. Some people paid for the beers, some didnt. What a shitty day.
I'm going to see Northwestern play Duke in Durham, so I'm looking forward to getting some brisket or barbecue down there.
TS: I live in Wisconsin. I root for a team called the Brewers. I am a connoisseur of tailgate foods. Camp Randall is pretty tame for food, but that's probably because you can buy virtually every kind of meat known to man within 2 blocks of the stadium. As far as crazy tailgating stories, one time I may or may not have gotten in a full fledged brawl after the UW-Oshkosh/UW-Whitewater game in 2012 (also the last time Whitewater lost a conference game, they're kinda sore losers). Arrested? No. We ended up having a brat eating contest. Couple of Whitewater cops got in on the action too. No one remembers who won.
AY: I once went to a tailgate where they were deep frying everything and we ate deep-fried Oreos and some other ridiculous stuff. If I ever make it out to a Maryland game, that giants pretzel is going on my to-do list.
MNW: I will eat that by myself.