March 27, 2011

Edsall's cupboard isn't bare at Maryland

New Maryland coach Randy Edsall has a tough act to follow.

Ralph Friedgen was fired shortly after being named the ACC coach of the year. The Terps bounced back from a 2-10 record in 2009 to a 9-4 record last season, which included a 51-20 Military Bowl rout of East Carolina.

Of course, Edsall also enjoyed plenty of success last season. He guided Connecticut to a Big East championship and Fiesta Bowl bid in his final season with the Huskies. He now inherits a Maryland program that features the ACC's best young quarterback in Danny O'Brien.

Here's a look at where Maryland stands heading into spring practice.

Veteran QB Danny O'Brien gives Maryland's new coaches a great starting point.
COACH: Randy Edsall
Last season: 9-4 overall, 5-3 in the ACC Atlantic. Beat East Carolina 51-20 in the Military Bowl.
Spring dates: March 29-April 30
(minimum seven starts last season)
Offense (5): T R.J. Dill, TE Matt Furstenburg, G Andrew Gonnella, G Justin Lewis, QB Danny O'Brien
Defense (6): E Justin Anderson, CB Cameron Chism, NT A.J. Francis, LB Demetrius Hartsfield, CB Trenton Hughes, FS Kenny Tate, T Joe Vellano.
Positions of strength

If North Carolina State's Russell Wilson decides not to use his final year of eligibility, Maryland's Danny O'Brien heads into the season as the ACC's top quarterback. O'Brien threw 22 touchdown passes with only eight interceptions as a redshirt freshman last season and was named the ACC rookie of the year. The offensive line that was such a major question mark heading into last season has matured into a strength. T Joe Vellano, a second-team All-ACC selection last year, heads a solid defensive line.

Help is needed

Maryland will have a tough time replacing departed LBs Alex Wujciak and Adrian Moten. Wujciak recorded more than 100 tackles in each of the past three seasons. The new coaching staff is trying to shore up the linebacker corps by moving All-ACC FS Kenny Tate to more of a hybrid linebacker/safety position. Redshirt freshman Mario Rowson is making a similar move. Maryland must find a big-play receiver to replace All-ACC pick Torrey Smith, who entered the NFL draft after catching 67 passes for 1,055 yards and 12 touchdowns last season. Smith's departure leaves Maryland without anyone who had more than 188 receiving yards or who caught more than two touchdown passes last season. Maryland also must replace Travis Baltz, who served as the Terps' main kicker and punter last season. The Terps are banking on Nick Ferrara, who did fine as the Terps' main kicker and part-time punter two years ago before falling out of favor last season.

3 players to watch

WRs Adrian Coxson and Kevin Dorsey: Maryland's lack of proven receivers could allow both these guys to make major impacts this season. Coxson, a redshirt freshman, is a former four-star prospect who originally signed with Florida. He rushed for 1,280 yards - averaging more than 12 yards per carry - and threw for 650 yards his senior season at Baltimore City College High School. Dorsey, a junior, only caught 15 passes for 187 yards last season, but he had a 45-yard touchdown reception in the Military Bowl and a 42-yard score against Miami.

DE David Mackall: Although a concussion limited him for much of his freshman season in 2010, Mackall came on strong down the stretch. He had two sacks against Miami, delivered a third sack in the regular-season finale against North Carolina State and scored on a 34-yard interception return in the Military Bowl. He should emerge as one of the Terps' top pass rushers this fall.

S Matt Robinson: Maryland needs someone to step up at safety now that Antwine Perez has used up his eligibility and Tate is shifting to a hybrid linebacker/safety position. That should create an opportunity for Robinson, who recorded 29 tackles as a reserve strong safety last season.

The pressure is on

CB Trenton Hughes: Although Hughes was a fixture in the starting lineup last season, he also got burned quite a bit in pass coverage. Maryland returns both its starting cornerbacks from last season in Hughes and Cameron Chism, so the Terps' secondary should be a strength. But it will be that way only if Hughes shows more progress in his senior season.

The buzz

Maryland must replace its leading receiver on offense and one of the nation's most prolific tacklers on defense, but the biggest changes are on the sideline. Edsall's staff includes Gary Crowton as offensive coordinator and Todd Bradford as defensive coordinator. Crowton worked as LSU's offensive coordinator the past four seasons, while Bradford spent the past three seasons as Southern Miss' defensive coordinator. Bradford should continue the transition from the 3-4 defense to a 4-3 scheme, a process that started under former coordinator Don Brown. The new staff already has made plenty of position changes. We've already mentioned the moves by Tate and Rowson. Other players switching positions include Devin Burns (quarterback to wide receiver), Demetrius Hartsfield (weakside linebacker to middle linebacker) and Jeremiah Wilson (cornerback to running back).

Steve Megargee is a national writer for He can be reached at is your source for: College Football | Football Recruiting | College Basketball | Basketball Recruiting | College Baseball | High School | College Merchandise
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