Maryland Terrapins 2011 Football: An Early Look

Let's take a look at Maryland football in 2011.  I hope you have been using the convenient links on the left side of the home page that guide you to many excellent previews.  

Why Maryland?  Maryland is one of the first teams for which the major preview links have finished their look.  Have a look at their take and then read my brief take.

First up is Bill Connelly's look:  2011 Season Preview: Smooth Transitions And The Maryland Terrapins - SBNation.com

While Randy Edsall might not have been the sexy hire at Maryland, he's a proven commodity, and on paper his style fits the personnel well. Does that make for a smooth transition in College Park?

Say this much for the Edsall hire: it fits the personnel quite well. I was really intrigued by the thought of Mike Leach running the show in College Park, but there are benefits to Edsall. The thing that typically trips up teams with new coaches is the occasional delay that comes with installing your own system and scheme. Aside from running more and making quite a few position changes on defense, this should be at least a semi-smooth transition.

Because of their ability to go after the ball, Maryland produced a significant turnover advantage that might be at least somewhat sustainable. It prompted a very positive YPP margin, and while things may even out a bit, the regression to the mean might not be completely crippling. There is experience on both sides of the ball, and perhaps just as importantly, there are potential stars too -- O'Brien and Meggett are good (and could be great) on offense, while Vellano and particularly Tate are standouts on defense.

Without a doubt, there are question marks. The receiving corps is a complete mystery, as are both lines, really, but Edsall should be able to make something out of this team rather quickly. Who knows what their ceiling is, but there at least shouldn't be much of a drop-off. There better not be, at least, because the season begins with two defining home games: Miami and West Virginia. Both of those teams are undergoing transitions of their own, so who the hell knows what to expect, but those two games will create the narrative for the rest of the season. Are the Terps going to be darkhorse contenders for a division crown? Are they going to be fighting and scrapping for bowl eligibility? We'll probably know by the evening of September 17.

Friend of TN Paul Myerberg:  Pre-Snap Read: #69 Maryland

What did Edsall see in Maryland? Is it more fitting to ask what he didn’t see at Connecticut? What he sees in Maryland is a program with a brighter future, a higher ceiling, even if he’ll find a B.C.S. berth far harder to come by in College Park than it was in Storrs. Edsall has made his choice: he’s opted for promise over comfort, and one can only hope he doesn’t come to regret leaving a place that would have had him for the rest of his coaching career. This move may someday prove wise; it won’t be an easy transition, however. I don’t think Edsall is going to experience immediate success with the Terrapins: this team won’t near last season’s win total, in my mind, in part thanks to the changes that occur with any coaching change. The list of recent first-year A.C.C. coaches – not counting former coach-in-waiting Jimbo Fisher – who have taken over a bowl team and made a substantial improvement from the start is a short one: Paul Johnson did so at Georgia Tech, but such situations often find a team treading water, perhaps taking a step back while it adjusts to new coaching philosophies. That’s not a good enough reason to think Maryland a six-win team. But when taken in conjunction with the losses at receiver, a lack of depth in the backfield and a few dangers spots on defense, you can see why we should tone down the expectations for Maryland in year one under Edsall. Can he get it done eventually? Say one thing for Edsall: his system would work anywhere. And it should work at Maryland. Will he lead the Terrapins to the B.C.S., like he did at Connecticut? I would bet against it, but Edsall has surprised before. Let’s take it one year at a time. For now, I think Maryland’s a bowl team, but on the lower end of the bowl ladder.

Scouting FSU’s schedule: A look at Maryland’s spring – Chopping Block – Seminoles Blog – Orlando Sentinel
A review of Maryland's spring by Coley Harvey

Maryland Terrapins 2011 College Football Preview

Maryland enters a new era as head coach Randy Edsall takes over the program following a 12-year coaching stint at BCS-aligned UConn. He will replace beloved Maryland savior Ralph Friedgen, who spent the last ten years making Terrapin Football respectable again. Considering what the Terps had created during the 1990s, where they saw one bowl game appearance in total, that Friedgen presumption may be an understatement. Make no mistake, Friedgen was fired, let go, didn't have his contract renewed. Whatever they call it, the move seems to have split the Maryland fan base between Friedgen supporters and those that seek a new identity.

The University administration wants more people in the seats as ticket sales have dwindled. Despite this being a longtime Byrd Stadium curse where a 50,000 seat stadium rarely ever gets a sell out, they have decided to hire Edsall in hopes that his vanilla 13-6 type of victories can intrigue the locals living beside this metropolitan campus. Plain vanilla might be the best description of new Maryland football coach Randy Edsall, especially when it comes to dealing with the media. Questions often get addressed with non-answers. Ask him what offense or defense he plans on running and he will reply "multiple" - a definition that means nothing. Players and coaches have been kept away from speaking with the media while practices have remained closed. For now, the media must make educated guesses about the upcoming season. Maryland Football needs as much exposure as it can possibly dish out, something Edsall all but eliminated. Only time will tell through wins and losses if this hire was worth it.

The biggest changes anyone has been able to ascertain came from a pre-spring press conference where Edsall unveiled a depth chart for the first time. Two aspects stand out. All-Conference safety Kenny Tate has been moved to linebacker and the defense will feature two new position names: Rock and Star. Further, nine players overall (mostly at these two spots) have changed positions. Star has been described as a hybrid position combining defensive back and linebacker responsibilities, and the line up is comprised entirely of players who were safeties in 2010. Rock is essentially a rush-end position and is being manned entirely by players recruited as linebackers. This will still be a 4-3 base front with the ability to morph into a nickel back alignment thanks to the versatility of the new hybrid positions. The secondary moves from man coverage to a preventative zone type of scheme.

The entire defensive coaching staff has been retooled. In fact, other than retaining receivers coach Lee Hull and offensive line coach Tom Brattan, the entire staff will be new to College Park.

The changes on offense may not be so apparent. No more two-tight end sets may be the only noticeable alignment difference. While Edsall's history shows us something more along the lines of conservative, the Maryland Red and White scrimmage was anything but. New offensive coordinator Gary Crowton has obviously influenced this mood. The former quarterback has a reputation for spreading the field. The offense is emphasizing breaking the huddle quickly while implementing an extremely fast paced tempo. Many of the Maryland players have spent the off-season studying the 2010 Oregon offense that has made waves with its quick snap theories. Quarterback Danny O'Brien seems to be rolling out of the pocket way more compared to a year ago while claiming that changes are coming in the running game too. While Davin Meggett is still the first option, no one is still quite sure what those changes might be.

There is still a youth movement under construction on Route 1 as Maryland is left with only ten scholarship seniors signifying that the first year under Edsall may not be his best. The severe lack of depth continues to be a worrisome issue. The injury bug, especially on the offensive line and at linebacker, would prove to have a devastating bite.

The first four games being at home are a sure bonus. The nationally televised Labor Day opener with Miami will be titanic for both programs under new coaching regimes. Other than a match up with FCS level Towson, the remainder of the schedule does not offer a single weekend where Maryland can afford to rest the starters.

With ACC Rookie of the Year Danny O'Brien behind center, the 2011 prognosis appears to be bright. A realistic goal is chasing an ACC Divisional Championship. That attitude has not been altered. Getting BCS bowl bound by winning the conference is still a long shot at best.

Winning 60 percent of your games over the long haul as a UM head coach would be priceless. Only four coaches in the history of Maryland Football that have coached more than one season have accomplished this feat. Terrapin legends Bobby Ross, Jerry Claiborne and Jim Tatum were the first three. Ralph Friedgen was the last.

Projected 2011 record: 8-4

My take?

I give Maryland a 65% chance to make a bowl game, and their four most likely records are, in order: 7-5, 6-6, 8-4, 5-7.  This team was not as good as its record last season (quite lucky), has undergone a major downgrade at both coordinator positions and won't be able to overcome many of the personnel losses.

Oh, and I cannot wait to see the ultra-conservative Edsall butt heads with the ultra-aggressive OC Crowton.  I'm sure when the going gets rough Edsall will let Crowton throw it all over the yard at a break-neck pace.  Riiiight.  

And long-term, I am quite confident Maryland's AD will lose his job over the move to fire Friedgen and replace him with a boring coach who will not fill the seats in College Park.  

As I profiled the other day, Maryland does not recruit at a level that justifies expectations of division or conference championships.  But that's what will be expected from Edsall.  Maryland does not have and cannot get the horses to do so when FSU is on its game and Clemson is recruiting at a high level.  

Maryland expects to win at a high-enough level to fill the stadium.  It needs much more talent than it is capable of getting to accomplish that.  That does not sound like a recipe for long-term job security.

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