I thought I post an early football preview of the 2013 Maryland football team.
Last year I predicted Maryland's Defense would be the most statistically improved defense in the ACC and BC would have the most statistically improved offense in the ACC. I have checked the stats, but even if I was wrong, I was close to being right. Maryland's defense went from being the worst in the ACC to either the second or third best defense in the ACC. BC went from the worst offense to a solid middle of the pack offense.
Due to the funky QB situation last year for Maryland where we ended up using our fifth string QB who was really a LB, there is definitely the potential to have one of the most statistically improved offenses in the ACC, though there are enough question marks on this offense that this offense could send up in the bottom third 3 or 4 in the ACC.
Lets start out with whats definitely not a question mark: WR. This is the best WR corp on paper that the Terps have had since I started following them in 2000. Their top 3 are Stefon Diggs (848 receiving yards in 11 games last year), Marcus Leak (393 receiving yards in 6 games last year), and Deon Long (809 receiving years in 9 games for New Mexico in 2011). Our fourth WR Nigel King would be a starter for us in most years and Amba Etta-Tawo is stepping up thru four spring practices so far (fastest straight line speed runner on the team). This WR unit has the potential to be good.
The RB unit is not loaded like WR, but we have a decent idea of what to expect from last year. Rising sophomores Wes Brown and Brandon Ross are straight ahead physical runners. Brown has got size, vision, and wiggle and Ross has the better acceleration and speed. Neither are superstars but they both met expectations as freshman last year.
The O-Line is a big question mark. We return 2 or 2.5 starters from last year (depending on how you count guys who started half the season from a pretty bad unit last year. In 2012 the O-Line was a game of musical chairs. That was not the first eyar the O-Line was a game of musical chairs, but unlike some of the previous seasons like 2010 and 2007 where injuries kept shaking things up, last year it was the coaches adjusting the starters because they were not happy with the play that caused things to revolved. Nine guys started at least one game on the O-Line last year and six of them return. There is the potential for improvement as none of the guys who graduated were great players and the young guys are a year older, but there is also the potential for another shaky O-Line.
QB was a disaster for us and it was mostly due to injuries. 3 ACL's and a broken foot resulted in a LB starting the final four games for us. Devin Burns (the broken foot) transferred out, but the other three QB's who all tore their ACL are back along with New Mexico transfer Ricardo Young. Look for CJ Brown to win the starting QB spot. Hes a personable guy who is a decent team leader. Average arm and decision making, but good leadership and speed (at least before the ACL injury). In 2011 he started 5 games and ran for 100 yards in 3 of them. He definitely a dual QB, but was only an average passer. I don't see that changing, but if he can stay healthy his leadership and better command of the offense than the freshman we had last year gave us should give us a nice upgrade at QB.
Overall this offense should definitely improve. The question is do they go from 12th to 9th in the ACC or from 12 to 3rd or 4th, which was what our Defense did from 2011 to 2012.
I think the Defense loses its best five players from last yera in Joe Vellano, Kenny Tate, Demetrius Hartsfield, AJ Francis, and Darrin Drakeford. I cannot imagine a defense losing its best five players and improving or staying the same. This defense is going to downgrade from 2012. In all the defense loses 6 out of 11 starters from last year.
The D-Line returns NT Darius Kilgo who had a solid 2012 season. We lose both DE's in Vellano and Francis so the D-Line should downgrade as a whole. The good news for the Terps is they have experienced guys to fill in. Justin Anderson started 12 games at DE in 2010, Keith Bowers started 11 games at DE in 2011 and Andre Monroe started 5 games at DT in 2011. None of those guys except potentially Monroe if he is 100% back from the ACL injury he suffered last fall camp can be expected to give us the production of either Vellano or Francis, but considering that that the D-Line on paper returned only 1 out of 3 starters, the D-Line will likely be underrated by the media in the pre-season who will likely rate it as one of the worst in the ACC.
The LB's lose 3 out of 4 starters. Like the D-Line they do have some guys with playing experience, but not to the same extent as the D-Line. I think you'll see a substantial fall off at this level. It will be interesting to see what converted safety Matt Robinson does at the Sam position. At the the inside LB's positions we Ferrand returning and Twine and LA Goree competing for the other inside spot and both those guys have half a season of starts due to injury from the past couple years. At the WILL Marcus Whitfield will likely take over despite have limited experience. The LB unit should fall off some.
The secondary returns 2.5 starters. Last year Matt Robinson started when healthy but missed over half the season with freshman Anthony Nixon starting when Robinson was out. Nixon returns at safety along with our top 3 corners. This secondary is easily the best secondary we have had sicne 2010 and is probably about the same level that the 2010 secondary was at. Overall its a better solid unit.
The defense last eyar was probably the second or third best defense in the ACC. The defense is going to fall off this year, but don't expect a huge fall off. I think statistically you are probably looking at one of the middle of the pack defenses in the ACC.