CFN: Maryland Preview

Believe it or not, it has only been five years since the Terps were stringing together 10-win seasons and making it look shockingly easy. It just feels a whole lot longer.

- 2008 CFN Maryland Preview | 2008 Maryland Offense

- 2008 Maryland Defense | 2008 Maryland Depth Chart
- 2007 CFN Maryland Preview | 2006 CFN Maryland Preview 

Head coach: Ralph Friedgen
8th year: 56-31
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 23, Def. 20, ST 3
Lettermen Lost: 16

Ten Best Terp Players
1. WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, Jr.
2. LB Dave Philistin, Sr.
3. CB Kevin Barnes, Sr.
4. DT Jeremy Barnes, Sr.
5. LT Scott Burley, Sr.
6. LG Jaimie Thomas, Sr.
7. LB Moise Fokou, Sr.
8. C Edwin Williams, Sr.
9. RB Da'Rei Scott, Soph.
10. LB Trey Covington, Sr.

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2008 Season: 0-0

Aug. 30 Delaware
Sept. 6 at Middle Tennessee
Sept. 13 California
Sept. 20 Eastern Michigan
Sept. 27 at Clemson
Oct. 4 at Virginia
Oct. 11  OPEN DATE
Oct. 18 Wake Forest
Oct. 25 NC State
Nov. 6 at Virginia Tech
Nov. 15 North Carolina
Nov. 22 Florida State
Nov. 29 at Boston College

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2007 Season: 6-7

Sept. 1 Villanova W 31-14
Sept. 8 at FIU W 26-10
Sept. 13 West Virginia L 31-14
Sept. 22 at W Forest L 31-24 OT
Sept. 29 at Rutgers W 34-24
Oct. 6
Georgia Tech W 28-26
Oct. 20 Virginia L 18-17
Oct. 27 Clemson L 30-17
Nov. 3 at North Carolina L 16-13
Nov. 10 Boston College W 42-35
Nov. 17 at Florida State L 24-16
Nov. 24
at NC State W 37-0
Emerald Bowl
Dec. 28 Oregon State L 21-14

Believe it or not, it has only been five years since the Terps were stringing together 10-win seasons and making it look shockingly easy. It just feels a whole lot longer.

This was the rising team from the ACC with a head coach that appeared to be the next big thing. The Under Armour people jumped on board, there were some good recruiting classes to get excited about, and the pieces appeared to be in place.

Now the program has hit an impasse under Ralph Friedgen, settling into the midsection of the ACC and stumbling repeatedly on offense when it looked like the attack was about to be special. Conceding he could no longer wear two hats, Friedgen hired James Franklin away from Kansas State to light a fire under a unit that hasn’t averaged more than 24 points a game since 2003. 

An ace recruiter, Franklin’s first order of business will be to make sense out of a muddled quarterback situation that includes Chris Turner, Jordan Steffy, and Josh Portis, the ballyhooed Florida transfer who hasn’t been able to get on the field the last two years. None of the three conjure up images of Boomer Esiason, meaning the running game will again be an essential part of the attack. 

Even with all the issues, Friedgen, who tends to do his best work when the least is expected of his teams, has enough in place to be good.  The team is only a year removed from a solid 9-4 season, and while this might not be a big-time juggernaut, it’s almost a lock to be a bowl team again. If nothing else, Maryland figures things can’t get worse on the injury front after losing an unimaginable 17 players from the two-deep for at least one game in 2007.

However, the Terps have the look of a middle-of-the-pack program that isn’t particularly sterling at any one unit. The wide receivers, led by Darrius Heyward-Bey, could be really dangerous, but even they’ll be neutralized if one of the quarterbacks doesn’t raise the level of his game. The defense will be fine, but nothing special, and that’s the problem.

After seven years under Friedgen, being fine, but nothing special, isn’t where things were supposed to be. On the plus side, the ACC doesn’t appear to be a juggernaut, so if the right breaks happen and a few surprises kick in, it won’t take all that much to be a player in the conference race. For all the mediocrity, Maryland isn’t so bad that it can’t get a stunner of a year.

What to look for on offense: More big plays out of the running game. Former Terps Lance Ball and Keon Lattimore were terrific while they were in College Park, but rarely broke free for long gains. That just wasn’t their strength. Their replacements, however, Da’Rel Scott and Morgan Green, both have the speed and burst to force revisions to the playbook. Scott, in particular, only needs a little room to be off to the races and into the secondary.

What to look for on defense: Problems on the defensive line. Maryland has talent in the back seven, but it might not always look that way if the front four doesn’t pull its weight. Losing big bodies Dre Moore and Carlos Feliciano will be felt on a unit that was No. 10 in the ACC in run defense and No. 11 in sacks. Jeremy Navarre is the line’s best player, but at 6-3 and 270 pounds, his move from end to tackle could wind up negating some of his pass rushing ability.     

The team will be far better if … one of the passers steps up, captures the job, and doesn’t look back. The last thing the offense needs is a lingering quarterback controversy or another season of inconsistency under center. Whether it’s Steffy, Turner, or Portis, it’s about time Maryland gets better productivity from behind center, maximizing the potential of a dangerous and explosive receiving corps.

The Schedule:  The Terps face California for the first time in a fun September home game, but the rest of the non-conference schedule is a joke facing Delaware, at Middle Tennessee and Eastern Michigan. The
scheduling gods make up for it with trips to Clemson, Virginia, Virginia Tech and Boston College that'll ensure an also-ran status in the ACC title race. On the plus side, there's a good chance to come up with a winning season with victories in at least three of the four home games against Wake Forest, NC State, North Carolina and Florida State.

Best Offensive Player: Junior WR Darrius Heyward-Bey. Heyward-Bey has been one of the ACC’s best deep threats the last two years, and the scary part is that he hasn’t even approached his full potential. Still a little raw and inconsistent, he’s 6-2 and 206 pounds, clocking in below 4.3 in the forty, a size-speed combo that’s often too much for opposing defensive backs to handle. There’s a chance he could be the first receiver taken in next year’s draft.  

Best Defensive Player: Senior LB Dave Philistin. Philistin arrived last year, finishing second on the team with 124 tackles, 6.5 of which were behind the line. A prototypical Maryland middle linebacker, he’s big, physical, and capable of covering lots of ground in a hurry. With Erin Henderson out of the picture, Philistin will be one of Maryland’s top defensive pro prospects.

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore RB Da’Rel Scott. While it might be asking too much for one of the quarterbacks to take flight, the offense can still get a lift if another playmaker develops to complement Heyward-Bey. Scott can be that guy, providing a spark to the running and passing game with his knack for finding a hole and jetting through it for large chunks of real estate. One more weapon is needed to take some pressure off the beleaguered passers.   

The season will be a success if ... the Terps return to the postseason for a third straight year. While there are too many concerns at quarterback and on the defensive line to think division crown, the schedule is soft enough to produce the seven wins needed to guarantee bowl eligibility. With Delaware, Middle Tennessee State, and Eastern Michigan on the non-conference schedule, nothing worse than a 3-1 start is expected before ACC play begins. 

Key game: Oct. 18 vs. Wake Forest. Go ahead and label this meeting an elimination game in the tightly-packed ACC Atlantic. The Demon Deacons broke Maryland’s heart last year, erasing a three-touchdown deficit and winning in overtime. It’ll serve as extra motivation for those Terps that still remember how they let that game slip away.

2007 Fun Stats: 
- Sacks: Opponents 50 for 288 yards – Maryland 28 for 187 yards
- Passing touchdowns: Opponents 14 – Maryland 9
- Fumbles: Opponents 28 (lost 12) – Maryland 15 (lost 6) Top Stories