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09 Homer Preview: The Terrapins Edition

homer previewIn an effort to provide coverage of teams outside of the OTP Preseason Top 25, we’ve asked some of our friends and fellow college football aficionados to follow our preview format for their team or go outside the box. This edition of The Homer Preview is courtesy of James Bond, yes… his actual name. This is second Homer Preview for OTP, and 007 is not simply a famous Maryland alum and ardent Terp supporter, he’s also a lawyer who inevitably will save our ass whenever we need it. Hopefully with a passionate “Boom!! LAWYERED!” Giggity.

Homer Preview: Maryland Terrapins
Terps-Logo

What You Need to Know
Last year for Maryland saw some great wins, some bad losses, but an overall positive year for the Terps who finished 8-5, 4-4 in conference, and with a final win on the Smurf Turf at the Humanitarian Bowl. Four of those wins were against ranked opponents, but the Terps had some bad losses, including a winless UVA at that time in the season, and to both BC and FSU to end their regular season.

Speaking of losses, the Terps said goodbye to a large senior class (30) where 23 started at least one game, and 13 are currently on NFL rosters, most notably Darrius Heyward-Bey, who was picked 7th overall by Oakland in this year’s draft. To counter this dearth of experience, the Terps bring its best recruiting class in 4 years, ranked 26th by Rivals.com. Four of the 24 fresh faces are all Americans, while a host of others rank well in their positions.

Coach Ralph Friedgen returns as the eighth winningest coach in ACC history, with his newly named heir-apparent James Franklin as the Offensive Coordinator. A new Defensive Coordinator Don Brown, who while head coach at Umass Amherst had a 70% win percentage over 5 years, brings with him a 4-3 defense the players seemed to have responded well to. Another new face on the sidelines will be special teams/tight ends coach Charles Bankins from the University of Richmond.

Who You Need to Know and Their 08 Stats
Maryland has quality players returning to both sides of the ball, especially on offense. Quarterback Chris Turner is in his 3rd year as a starter, throwing for more than 2,500 (5th best in school history) yards last season and almost 4500 in his career (7th best so far). Behind him, lies Maryland’s greatest threat: an extremely deep backfield. Leading the crew is last year’s all conference running back Da-Rel Scott, a Doak Walker candidate for the second straight year. Scott ran for 1133 yards last season, 174 of which came in the Humanitarian Bowl where he was named MVP. With him in the back field are Morgan Green, Davin Meggett, and Corey Jackson, a strong senior fullback who will help make holes for his tailbacks. Meggett rushed for almost 500 yards as a backup. Maryland is known for its 1-2 punch at running back, and there are a lot of different looks they can give you with this crew.

The Defensive front seven is the youngest and weakest link on the team. Only Phil Ivey and Jared Harrell return to the front line as main contributors from last season. Luckily they will have Alex Wujciak, the ACC’s second leading tackler last season behind them at middle linebacker and the very active Adrian Moten (74 tackles, 7 sacks) at the Sam. Wujciak is a Bednarik hopeful, and on the preseason all conference team, so listen for his name a lot this season. Maryland’s got depth in the secondary

Joining Wujcaik on the preseason All-ACC team is last year’s all-conference punter Travis Baltz. Baltz is also a Guy hopeful. Another special team standout returning from last year is Torrey Smith, the conference’s best returner.

Game to Watch
The past couple of seasons, the Terps have been in the hunt for the ACC championship game, and they’ve folded against BC or FSU or both. I expect this year to be no different. The Terps should be fighting for a decent bowl game by the end of the season, so I look at the final three games against tough schools (VT, FSU, and BC) to be the hardest for them. They could be 7-2 or better going into those games, so VT is the one I have as the key matchup. Friedgen and Beamer are old friends, but Beamer has had bragging rights of late. Luckily, the Fridge gets this one at home.

They’ll Do Well If…
… the offensive line gives Turner time to throw the ball! Is that de ja vu? I said the same thing last year, except now, only Phil Costa and Bruce Campbell are returning starters. Phil Costa has emerged as the leader of the o-line, and Bruce Campbell is a freak left tackle that will be playing on Sundays if he can stay healthy. The receiving corps, while young, has talent. Expect the gifted returner Torrey Smith to also be the primary recipient of Turner’s passes. If Turner goes down with injury, they are in a world of hurt because there’s only one true backup who was inconsistent in the spring and has yet to play in a game, and two new recruits.

Season Outlook
The good news: The Terps play 5 of their first seven games at home. If they start strong like they did last year, then the world is their oyster. The bad news: eight of the teams that they line up against played in bowl games last year (5 won), and one was in the FCS playoffs. As the offensive line goes, so goes the season, because the Terps have the talent in the backfield and at QB. Turner gets to start the season close to his home at Cal, then he comes to his new home to play 4 winnable games. The Terps seem to always have a hiccup in the middle of the season against a team they should beat (like UVA last year) which is the first sign of trouble. I anticipate that game being either WFU or NCSU this year. They also tend to fold at the end of the regular season, losing to either BC or FSU or both. This year, they lose to Rutgers, VT, and FSU, plus one more, going 8-4, missing 2-3 ACC games. They’ll be in a fun bowl game.

2 Responses

  1. Excellent write up, 007. Terps are going to surprise some people in the ACC.

  2. Nice writeup. It’s going to be tough going for Maryland this year, that’s for sure. I sure wasn’t kind to them in my predictions, so I hope the Terps prove me wrong.

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