Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Maryland Preview



2007 Schedule

2006 Results: 9-4 overall, 5-3 ACC (T2nd Atlantic Division); beat Purdue 24-7 in the Champs Sports Bowl

Offense: Two-year starting QB Sam Hollenbach has bowed off the stage, while his understudies - the underwhelming duo of Jordan Steffy and Josh Portis - pratfalled their way through the spring, so much so that the decision to name a successor may come down to who will likely inflict the least amount of damage to the offense. Thankfully for the Terp faithful, a more imposing duo returns in the backfield...steamroller TB Lance Ball and the equally bruising Keon Lattimore, who combined for nearly 1,600 yards in 2006 despite a battered OL. The WR corps looks to be in fine shape, with All-ACC wideout Derrious Heyward-Bey returning to torch secondaries into ashy oblivion (presuming that the aforementioned QBs can actually get the football into his hands). That beat-up OL mostly returns, although technically only three starters are back, but given the rotation on the line last year, the majority of the two-deep depth chart has seen significant playing time.

Defense: Five starters are gone from last year's unimpressive unit (10th in the ACC in total defense), and their replacements are certainly talented, but woefully unproven. The defensive line and the linebacking corps look to be roughly in the same shape as '06, while the secondary takes a huge hit with the losses of All-ACC cornerback Josh Wilson and safety Marcus Wimbush. Despite the departure of some key defensive leaders, the experience of the returnees (most notably soon-to-be-a-holy-terror-on-Sundays LB Erin Henderson) should roughly compensate for that. I don't think the Turtles will be worse on defense than in 2006, but I'm not wagering anything more than a beer (and nothing more than a High Life) that they'll be much better either.

Special teams: Let's just summarize this very quickly-- kicker Obi Egekeze has never attempted a field goal in a game, punter Travis Faltz has never punted in a game, and last year's top kickoff returner was Josh Wilson. Danny Oquendo is back to return punts, but the rest of the special teams unit is most certainly a work in progress.

Coaching: The only new face to patrol the sidelines in College Park this season is defensive backs coach Kevin Lempa, recently departed from Boston College. Second year DC Chris Cosh needs to impress after a rookie season in which the Terrapin defense took a nosedive from the steady days of Gary Blackney. Under Armour lackey Ralph Friedgen is back as the main man, along with handling the OC duties. Color me skeptical on whether the Fridge should be handling both roles, based on last season and the overall direction of the program.

For What It's Worth: Maryland '06 Total Offense Ranking - #88; Total Defense Ranking - #84; Turnover Margin Ranking - #90; Overall Record- 9-4; that's college football's biggest WTF? of '06, if you ask me (and you didn't)....of the Terps' five ACC wins last year, all were decided by 6 points or less; two of their three league losses were in blowout fashion.....despite lackluster 2004 and 2005 seasons, Maryland is one of only 18 1-A programs to post four 9+ win seasons since 2001....Friedgen's six-year record in College Park: 50-24; the Terrapins' three previous coaches' record from 1987-1999: 55-98-1

Schedule Analysis: A breezy start (Villanova and FIU in the first two weeks), and then a roller-coaster 11-week stretch in which I wouldn't be too surprised to see the Terps win or lose any of them. The 4-week span right after the FIU game is particularly unpleasant: West Virginia at home, @Wake Forest, @Rutgers, Georgia Tech at home. Thankfully, Virginia Tech is mercifully absent and Miami was replaced by North Carolina for 2007.
Projected Wins- Villanova, @Florida International, Virginia, @North Carolina
Projected Losses- West Virginia, @Wake Forest, @Rutgers, @Florida State
Toss-Ups- Georgia Tech, Clemson, @N.C. State, Boston College

For More Opinionated, Yet Delightful, Terrapin Insight: Turtle Waxing

Blast-From-The-Past, Feel-Good YouTube:

"Cyborg"

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