In the coming weeks, University of Maryland students will flood college park and the campus will enjoy watching what will be the Maryland football team’s last season competing in the ACC. For most Maryland sports, the teams will enter the tough Big Ten conference in just over a year. The biggest culture shock among the athletic teams will take place with in the football program. Maryland football has struggled in recent years, and entering arguably the conference’s toughest sport will be an uphill battle.
After an injury riddled 2012 campaign, head coach Randy Edsall will look for his biggest improvement entering his third season. Edsall’s guy at quarterback will be fifth-year junior C.J. Brown. Two seasons ago, Edsall benched ACC freshman of the year, Danny O’Brian, in favor of Brown and will look for a payoff on his gamble. C.J. tore his ACL prior to last season and has been diligently rehabbing since the injury occurred in August. Brown is a dual threat quarterback, and with an improved receiving core, should excel. Return man and wide receiver Stefon Diggs had an excellent 2012 season with not much to work with. He caught 54 passes for 848 yards scoring six times. Maryland will look for Diggs to carry the offensive load while the running back position remains a major question mark. Sophomores Brandon Ross and Albert Reid will compete for the starting job after fellow running back Wes Brown was suspended for the season.
On the defensive side of the ball, the unit will enter their second season under coordinator Brian Stewart. The former Houston assistant implemented the 3-4 base defense and fans watched as the Terps grew into the scheme. The down side, however, is the team loses major personnel up front. Both A.J. Francis and Joe Vellano were all conference standouts and will be sorely missed in 2013. Nose tackle Darius Kilgo will look to pick up the slack as he showed great improvement in the 3-4 defense. It looks as if the defensive end position will be filled by committee as the team lacks true standouts to replace Francis and Vellano. Like the line, the linebacking core loses two full-time starters, Kenny Tate and Darin Drakeford. The secondary should see the most improvement as the group gained valuable experience a year ago. The major difference is they don’t have the ability to rely on the pass rush to bail them out. It will take time for Brian Stewart to mold his Maryland defense into the 3-4 set but the move is the correct one for the long run.
Bottom Line is that the 2013 roster looks like another rebuilding year and I’m sorry to say but an average team at best. The Terrapins appear to be looking toward their move to the Big Ten and hope to make their biggest strides this season. My prediction is that the team will go 7-5 and make their first bowl appearance since 2008. This may be an optimistic one for a team coming off of a 2-10 season, but this year is essential one for Coach Edsall if he wants to keep his job, and I expect to team to answer Edsall’s challenge.
Stefon Diggs (Above) has high expectations entering the 2013 campaign