In 2010 Maryland enjoyed one of their better season’s in recent memory culminated with a Bowl victory but oddly with all the success head coach Ralph Friedgen was shown the door. Enter Randy Edsall who was hired away from Connecticut after taking the Huskies from a sub division school to Big East Champions in his tenure there. Given how the Terrapins succeeded a year ago and the coaching changes that followed, it appears the school and the fans expect even more in 2011. That appears to be a tough order with a new coaching staff and systems that must be implemented.
There is plenty of talent for Edsall and new offensive coordinator Gary Crowton (LSU) to work with, beginning with quarterback Danny O’Brien who was solid as a freshman with over 2,400 passing yards and 22 scores. The problem facing the air attack is O’Brien’s two favorite targets in Torrey Smith and Adrian Cannon are gone. Another issue is that Edsall isn’t a guy known for developing a great passing game. The backfield’s primary ball carrier will be Dave Meggett who shared time with Da’Rel Scott who graduated. The Terps do have some talent in this unit and look for Edsall to develop some type of rotation. The rushing attack should benefit from an experienced offensive line that returns four of five players which appears to be a blessing for the ground and pound attack that the new head coach favors.
The defense has plenty of talent back but defensive coordinator Don Brown left voluntarily left to join the staff at Connecticut. Todd Bedford was hired away from Southern Mississippi so the obvious concern is how well this unit will mesh with new coaching and systems. The D Line gives Bedford a solid foundation to work with that is has youth and experience and depth to work with. Defensive tackles Joe Vellano and AJ Francis lead the front seven who should be tough to run on and give the unit a very good pass rush as well. The ability of the front seven to get to the quarterback could ultimately determine how successful the defense is as a whole because the back four will have two new faces at safety. Another issue is at cornerback where Trenton Hughes and Cameron Chism return but had only one interception between them a season ago.
The Terrapins special teams could almost be summed up with one name: Travis Baltz. He handled both punting and placekicking chores but has graduated. The Terps are not completely out in the cold however with Nick Ferrara handling field goals in 2009 going 18 of 25 as well as seeing spot duty as punter. Michael Tart is slated to punt and can also placekick so both kickers back up the other. Torrey Smith is a big piece of the return game that needs to be replaced but punt returner extraordinaire Tony Logan is a weapon with an 18 yard average and two touchdowns that garnered him First Team All ACC honors in 2010.
The coaching changes at Maryland are old news at this point but these are the very changes that could have an affect on just how successful this team is in 2011. Considering the Terrapins have a new head man as well as offensive and defensive coordinators the question of familiarity has to be an issue. Maryland will certainly go Bowling in 2011 but I don’t see nine wins in their future or a team that is an elite ACC club.