Last season the most dangerous job in America was the position of quarterback for the Maryland football team. I think midway through the season Randy Edsall went out to the intramural fields to offer someone a spot on the team. First Danny O'Brien transferred to
ACC Quarterback Transfer U Wisconsin. Then dual-threat quarterback C.J. Brown tore his ACL before the season even started. In comes freshman Perry Hills and naturally he tears his ACL in October. Enter sophomore Devin Burns into the game, who after four passing attempts proceeds to injure his foot and is lost for the season. Not to worry though as Maryland brought in freshman Caleb Rowe, who you guessed it, tore his ACL the next week. Their knee ligaments were about as stable as the finances of Maryland's athletic department. They then had to burn freshman LINEBACKER Shawn Petty's redshirt during the ninth game of the season. His backup was a freshman tight end. And of course they beat Wake Forest last season, so we got that going for us, which is nice.
So last season went about as horribly as any quarterback situation could have ever gone outside of Curtis Painter having to fill in for an injured Peyton Manning. All of those injuries led to an anemic 20.1 points per game, which placed them 109th nationally. I think it's safe to say that IF C.J. Brown can stay healthy, then this offense will improve. His completion percentage is below 50%, and that will certainly have to improve, but he averaged 7.3 yards/carry in 2011, which will add a new dimension to the offense. Given his receivers, there isn't much excuse not to have at least a solid passing attack.
Multiple #sources have confirmed that Stefon Diggs is good at football. The former 5-star recruit lived up to the hype last season as he finished second behind Giovani Bernard in the ACC in all-purpose yards per game with 172. Diggs also finished second in ACC-Rookie-of-the-Year to Duke Johnson of Miami. Diggs managed to do all of this despite the fact that he had to play part of the season with a linebacker at quarterback. Stefon Diggs is a monster; every day is Halloween. Marcus Leak, Maryland's second leading receiver last season, left the school for personal reasons, but plans to re-enroll in January. In his place Maryland adds transfer Deon Long from New Mexico, who is a former 5-star recruit and had over 800 receiving yards in 2011. Long along with Diggs will form one of the best receiver tandems in the ACC, and should open up a lot of big play opportunities.
Sophomore Brandon Ross should be Maryland's starter on opening day given that Wes Brown was suspended for the season due to an arrest. Ross averaged 4.6 yards per carry last season over 6 games. Given Maryland's weak offensive line, Ross may be called upon more to help in blocking schemes that will give Stefon Diggs and Deon Long more time to get open down field.
The offensive line was nothing short of horrendous last season. In their defense, they were protecting a linebacker behind them, but their play was still not good. To make matters worse, they lose three lineman who had a combined 61 starts between them. This line is going to be critical in pass protection if they want to be able to take full advantage of their stud wide receivers.
The Maryland defense sacked opposing quarterbacks a total of 27 times last season, which was good for 51st nationally. Unfortunately for Maryland, they will be losing players who accounted for more than 66% of those sacks, including both starting defensive ends- Joe Vellano and A.J. Francis.
Maryland will lose three excellent linebackers in Demetrius Hartsfield, Darin Drakeford and Kenneth Tate. Those three players combined for 13.5 sacks last season and more than 20% of the team's total tackles. Cole Farrand and L.A. Goree will still be there at inside linebacker in their 3-4 scheme, but they will need to replace a lot of production from the outside linebackers.
Maryland's secondary should be excellent. They ranked 30th nationally last season in passing yards allowed per game and return six of their top seven secondary players. They will miss Eric Franklin at safety, but Dexter McDougie (great name) and Jeremiah Johnson should make an excellent pair at cornerback. This secondary will help to alleviate the drop off this defense experiences on the defensive line.
The kicking game was nothing short of woeful for Maryland last season. Brad Craddock only made 62.5% of his field goal attempts last season, which placed him 84th nationally. Additionally, Craddock had a touchback% of 9.6%, which placed him 120th nationally. Punter Nathan Renfro averaged 39.7 yards/punt, which placed him 86th nationally.
Fortunately for Maryland they still had this guy named Stefon Diggs who took two kickoffs to the house and ranked 11th nationally in kickoff yards/return with 28.5. Diggs also averaged 10 punt yards/ return, which placed him 29th nationally. So despite Maryland's dreadful performance in the kicking game, Stefon Diggs still made Maryland an average on special teams overall.
Maryland's schedule is not that difficult. They have home games against Florida International, Old Dominion, West Virginia (neutral), Virginia, Clemson, Syracuse, and Boston College. They could easily win four of those games, leaving them to only have to win two road games in order to become bowl eligible. Maryland better take advantage of that schedule this season because the nine game B1G 10 conference schedule will not be too welcoming to them next season. Each season they will have to face Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Penn State. Good luck, you'll need it. #goacc