Previewin' the B1G: Maryland

By Kyle Rowland on July 6, 2014 at 6:00a
13 Comments

Maryland enters 2014 coming off a season in which it lost five of its final seven games. So why the confidence? The Terrapins believe they can compete in the Big Ten immediately, thanks to 16 returning starters and one of college football’s top playmakers in wide receiver Stefon Diggs.

In each of Randy Edsall’s three seasons as head coach, Maryland has improved steadily, from two wins to four to seven. The events surrounding Edsall’s hiring – Maryland firing Ralph Friedgen and Edsall cold-shouldering UConn – had many observers soured on the Terps. But it’s impossible to deny the continued development occurring in College Park.

They aren’t Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan or Penn State – all East Division foes – but the learning curve could be minimized due to an underrated roster in terms of talent. Now, if they would just stay healthy. Edsall’s first three seasons have coincided with Maryland being decimated by injuries.

“We’ve got some playmakers on offense [who] can really make things happen,” he told ESPN.com “We’ve got some very talented wide receivers, our quarterback is really good, a dual threat. The biggest thing is we’ve got to stay healthy and continue to get better.”

The biggest limitation came last season when Diggs missed the final six games after suffering a broken fibula. Not only that, fellow wide receiver Deon Long broke his fibula – and tibia – in the same game, a humbling 34-10 setback at Wake Forest.

2014 Schedule
Date Opponent
8/30 James Madison
9/6 @ South Florida
9/13 West Virginia
9/20 @ Syracuse
9/27 @ Indiana
10/4 Ohio State
10/18 Iowa (HC)
10/25 @ Wisconsin
11/1 @ Penn State
11/15 Michigan State
11/22 @ Michigan
11/29 Rutgers

Maryland was cruising along at 5-1 until that dreary October day. Diggs and Long combined for 66 receptions for 1,076 yards and four touchdowns. Those totals were 50 percent of the team’s receptions and receiving yards at the time of the twin injuries. Quarterback C.J. Brown is certainly happy to have the duo back in 2014 at 100 percent.

“I’m just happy to have my legs back because at one point I wasn’t even walking,” Diggs said during spring drills. “I think about it every day. It’s my motivation. The return, ready to get back. For God to give me my legs back, this is my second chance.”

Diggs, who spurned Ohio State during the 2012 recruiting cycle, gives Maryland a versatile game-breaker who is capable of scoring every time he touches the ball. Kickoffs, receptions, rushes – it doesn’t matter with the skillful Diggs.

There were concerns he may have lost a step or could appear timid post-injury, but Diggs put those fears to rest with blazing speed in spring practice. And that was at 90 percent. Diggs stayed active throughout his months of rehab, working with offensive coordinator Mike Locksley and former NFL star-turned-wide receivers coach Kennan McCardell to picture routes and other nuances of the Terps’ flexible offense.  

“I missed my team a lot,” Diggs said. “I missed being on the field, missed being around them. It’s good to bring that energy and enthusiasm to the game as much as I can.”

If the offense stays intact, Maryland could field one of the top units in the conference. Brown had a breakout year in 2013, throwing for over 2,200 yards with 13 touchdowns on seven interceptions. He completed 58.9 percent of his passes and rushed for 576 yards – 4.1 yards per carry – and 12 touchdowns. He returns as a sixth-year senior.

“I think I was the old guy last year,” Brown said.  I’m still a senior, but each year I feel, as a quarterback, I think [certain things] come with the territory in terms of leadership and guiding the younger guys.”

During a career that’s spanned two conferences and two coaches, Brown has developed into the top rushing quarterback in Maryland history and a decent passer as well. It’s that second thing that he wants to continue improving at and doing more of, as running back Wes Brown returns from a suspension that saw him spend 2013 away from football.

C.J. Brown entered college as the program’s next great quarterback. Then an injury of his own – a broken collarbone – gave way to the Danny O’Brien era. Friedgen’s firing also wreaked havoc on Brown becoming the starting quarterback. In 2012, another injury – this time a torn ACL – sidelined him the season.

He hopes to remain upright and on the field this year and is counting on a questionable offensive line to do so. The left side of the line needs replaced. But new offensive line coach Greg Studrawa, an Urban Meyer disciple, instills plenty of confidence. 

As does the defense. The unit returns all but two starters from a unit that ranked eighth in the ACC in total defense and seventh against the run. What Edsall and Co. are searching for is depth.

Linemen Darius Kilgo, Andre Monroe and Quinton Jefferson form a defensive line that’s primed on getting into the backfield. Monroe and Jefferson combined for 89 tackles and 12.5 sacks last season. Linebackers Cole Farrand, L.A. Goree, Matt Robinson and Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil, cornerbacks Jeremiah Jones and William Likely, and safeties Sean Davis and Anthony Nixon complete one of the best back ends in the Big Ten.

“There’s no doubt we will be able to compete and do well in the Big Ten,” Edsall said when Maryland announced it would join the conference. “We’ll be fine because we’ll have the right people here, we’ll have the talent, and we’ll develop talent to make sure that we’re going to go in there and be competitive and win.

“That’s exactly what we’ll do.”

He’s stuck to the plan for 20 months. 

13 Comments

Comments

mr.green's picture

Schedule is interesting. 5-0 with OSU coming to town is a real possibility. Looking tough from that point on, though.  

+4 HS
IGotAWoody's picture

They're going to be tested against S Fla and WV. And I think @Indiana is going to be tough for them. Indiana is going to put pressure on Md to score. If they can't score on Indiana, they're in for a rude awakening. If they can score, it may only mean that they're a slightly better version of Indiana. 

 - License to kill gophers (wolverines, badgers, etc) by the government of the United Nations

IBLEEDSCARLETANDGRAY's picture

The Terps can't score on Indiana's D they might as well throw in the towel.

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

+3 HS
IGotAWoody's picture

Absolutely! We all know they're going to be able to score on Indiana. My point was, if they can't outscore Indiana, then they're in trouble when it comes to the rest of their schedule. And I think it's very possible that they won't be able to outscore Indiana.

 - License to kill gophers (wolverines, badgers, etc) by the government of the United Nations

703Buckeye's picture

Diggs is just as fast and explosive as he ever was; he's going to be one of the top receivers in the B1G as long as the ball gets to him.

8/30 James Madison: Win
9/6 @ South Florida: Win
9/13 West Virginia: Win
9/20 @ Syracuse: Win
9/27 @ Indiana: Win
10/4 Ohio State: Loss
10/18 Iowa: Loss
10/25 @ Wisconsin: Loss
11/1 @ Penn State: Win
11/15 Michigan State: Loss
11/22 @ Michigan: Loss
11/29 Rutgers: Win

7-5 regular season record is my guess.

"Attack the Strong, Trample the Weak, Hurdle the Dead!"
-Former OSU S&C Coach Lichter

+2 HS
MarkC's picture

I would probably flip the Iowa and Penn State win/loss, but could totally see it playing out this way. Anywhere in the range between 8-4 and 4-8 (depending on injuries) could happen, but 7-5 sounds about right.

TTUN seems tough to beat at home for non-buckeye teams and Michigan State has the athletes/system on defense to give Maryland's skill players trouble. Obviously, the Buckeye game is a Terp loss. Penn State is vulnerable but I expect them to get a boost at home in James Franklin's first season. Wisconsin will likely continue its downward slide since the JJ Watt (2010) and then Russell Wilson (2011) seasons, although they will still be tough at home. Maryland should be a slight home favorite over Iowa if they are healthy and Brown's passing accuracy progresses.

The Clean North's picture

This team could be a little dangerous with that many returning starters. Add in Diggs and a shot of adrenaline because they play in the B1G now and this team is upset ready every week. They are a team I'll be rooting for to upset some teams and help us with our lead in the conference this season. 

+1 HS
Patriot4098's picture

I'm gonna laugh when they beat Penn State.

"Evil shenanigans!"     - Mac

+2 HS
osu407's picture

I don't know much about Maryland but they could be the first real test for our new pass defense if their strengths are at wide receiver and quarterback.

The lack of familiarity makes the possible outcomes wide open between them and other B1G teams for the first two years or so.

Knarcisi's picture

Crab cakes and football!  That's what Maryland does!

+6 HS
CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

I see it more like this. 

~~8/30 James Madison: Win
 9/6 @ South Florida: loss
 9/13 West Virginia: Win
 9/20 @ Syracuse: Win
 9/27 @ Indiana: loss
 10/4 Ohio State: Loss
 10/18 Iowa: Loss
 10/25 @ Wisconsin: Loss
 11/1 @ Penn State: loss
 11/15 Michigan State: Loss
 11/22 @ Michigan: Loss
 11/29 Rutgers: loss

I could easily see them going 3-9.  Maybe they get a win over SF or Indiana so 4 wins tops. 

They are going to be in for a rude awakening when they play OSU, TTUN, MSU, and Wisky.

Go Bucks!

+1 HS
Knarcisi's picture

Come on, is this another Stefon Diggs thread?

+1 HS
Jpfbuck's picture

sorry but I am not buying MD hype

I know they started 5-1, whatever,

they beat a 1-11 FLa Int team, a 1AA Old Dominion, a 3-9 UConn, a 4-8 WVU, got absolutely throttled by FSU 63-0, then bounced back to beat 2-10 UVA

whoopee freakin doooo, they went 5-0 against teams who went a combined 16-38, plus a 1AA ODU team that was 8-4 and gave up 80 points to UNC

then 4-8 wake beat them, Clemson beat them, 7-6 Syracuse beat them, they then upset a 8-5 Va Tech, then lost to BC, beat a 3-9 NCST and lost to 10-4 Marshall

so did they lose because 2 wide receivers got hurt or because they played people with a pulse, except for the upset of Vs Tech, their 5 other FBS wins were against teams who were 19-47, or about 4-9 on average,,,in the B1G, 4-9 means you are beating Illinois

I think JMU is their only certain win and otherwise ever other game is a toss up at best, assuming they atleast split the following (Syr, WVU, SFla, Indiana, Rutgers and PSU), then I think 4-8 is what they are looking at

maybe they will be better than I am giving them credit for, but my guess is they max out at 6 wins