We're about forty days from the start of college football season. Maryland is entering their second year in the Big Ten. What're some goals for this season to not only avoid the sophomore slump but to build on the success they found in year one?
This figures to be a bridge year for Maryland. The Terps graduated most of their defense and a few of their best skill-position players on offense, so maintaining their 7-6 record from a year ago would be quite a feat. They'd surely like to see some growth from a pair of blue-chip offensive tackle recruits from the last few years who haven't yet debuted: Damian Prince and Derwin Gray, five- and four-star pickups, respectively. And it'd be nice to identify a quarterback, seeing as nobody's entrenched at that fairly important position and their best bet for the future, Dwayne Haskins, is only narrowly old enough to drive.
Based on what I'm seeing in your own season previews, Maryland has some quality players returning but also some gaps at key positions. How is Edsall reloading for this year to compete in (his words) the toughest division in all football?
That offensive line growth would help a lot. Maryland's line wasn't "Penn State bad" last season, but it was pretty porous. The team also lost its five top receivers from last year, so finding contributions from some combination of a handful of freshmen will be important to the passing game. On defense, Maryland's personnel really didn't suit a 3-4 scheme, so the Terps parted ways with coordinator Brian Stewart and are working to install a run-stopping 4-3 look for the upcoming season. In this way, the hope is that Maryland can create a product that's greater than the sum of its defensive parts. (The Terps were torched against the run last season, so they really, really need this to work.)
And no Stefon Diggs this year, which was a bit unexpected, so who emerged out of spring ball as a clear number one receiver on the depth chart, if anyone?
What's the feeling around College Park in having to deal with Jim Harbaugh being in the Big Ten? Has Edsall done well in locking down talent around the mid-Atlantic to get a head start when so many other B1G schools have national reach?
I don't think Harbaugh has been a huge topic of conversation, at least not beyond the local NFL fans who will always know him as the Ravens coach's brother. But anybody who's followed the college or professional game for the last six or seven years knows how serious Harbaugh is, and his presence in Ann Arbor won't do anything but eventually give Maryland another heavyweight to compete with. Last year's Michigan team was the worst Michigan team Maryland will play for the next 10 years, or however long Harbaugh's tenure lasts. He'll make things harder on the field and on the recruiting trail.
As for the Mid-Atlantic, Edsall's done OK there, but it's probably not Maryland's biggest focus. There's a great deal of talent in the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area - the so-called DMV - and Maryland's the only major college program around. Haskins's recent commitment was a big deal not just because of how good he is, but because he could, in theory, be the first domino to fall in what he's calling 'the movement' of local talent to College Park. Trevon Diggs, a 2016 cornerback and Stefon's younger brother, could be another. If Maryland is ever to get on a serious upswing in football, cleaning up its own backyard is a good place to start.
What's going to be Maryland's biggest concern heading into this year, and without seeing a game from either team, give me a way-too-early key to beating Michigan on your home field.
Quarterback play and interior run defense are problematic question marks. The Big Ten has a lot of good quarterbacks and a lot of meaty lines. Maryland might have both of those, or it might have neither.
I expect Michigan to beat Maryland this season, although that view could change by the week of the game. Maybe you all view it differently from up close, but I don't feel like I have much of a sense of exactly what Michigan will be good at next year and where it will struggle. I see a defense that was great last year but lost a few great players (and terrible people, mind you) and a lousyoffense that's now getting the equivalent of Quarterback Yoda to coach it and who will probably make it a lot better than it was. Until we have a better idea of Michigan's strength and weaknesses, I don't feel qualified to break it down in great detail. But running well and stopping the run can't hurt.
Beer question: What local brew is getting you guys through the long off season and into September football?
My 21st birthday isn't for a few more days, so I'll take the Fifth on this forum. But what could be more appropriate than Terrapin beer? (It actually exists, I swear. Google it.)