March 24, 2009

Maryland needs to find some offense

Maryland was inconsistent last season and it showed in its 4-4 record in the ACC. The Terps did end the season with a bowl victory but it was in the Humanitarian Bowl in Boise, Idaho.

The passing game was particularly problematic, and that was with Darrius Heyward-Bey - who was a big-time playmaker at wide receiver.

Upgrading the offense will be important this spring, as will be rebuilding a defense that returns just three starters.

Here's a look at the Terps as they open spring drills.

maryland AT-A-GLANCE
Chris Turner returns at quarterback, but Maryland needs more out of the offense.
THE BASICS
Coach: Ralph Friedgen
Last season: 8-5, 4-4 ACC. Beat Nevada in the Humanitarian Bowl.
Spring dates: March 24-April 25
RETURNING STARTERS
Offense (5): T Bruce Campbell, G Phil Costa, FB Cory Jackson, RB Da'Rel Scott, QB Chris Turner.
Defense (3): FS Terrell Skinner, CB Anthony Wiseman, LB Alex Wujciak.
Special teams (2): P Travis Baltz, K Obi Egekeze
Positions of strength

Losing Heyward-Bey early to the NFL hurts, but there still is a nice stable of receivers led by Torrey Smith, Ronnie Tyler and Adrian Cannon. There also is a strong collection of running backs, with Da'Rel Scott leading the charge after rambling for 1,133 yards in 2008.

Help is needed

The Terps need help at linebacker; six of the top eight LBs from last season are gone. The return of Alex Wujciak, last season's top tackler, is a good starting point. Still, some youngsters need to emerge. Maryland welcomes six early enrollees, four of whom are linebackers. The offensive line is another area that needs work.

Keep an eye on

WR Kevin Dorsey: He's a big (6-2, 195) freshman who arrived as a highly touted recruit. A foot injury led to a redshirt last season. Now, he's ready to make an impact.

LB Derek Drummond: He got his feet wet last year as a redshirt freshman reserve at the "Leo" position, which is a hybrid of a defensive end/linebacker. Drummond's speed and athleticism could translate into big plays at a position that lacks experience.

LB Demetrius Hartsfield: He's a quick and aggressive redshirt freshman who excels at filling holes and stuffing the run. Hartsfield also is a heady player whom coaches can count on to carry out his assignments.

His time is now

Defensive end/outside linebacker Jared Harrell is a senior who has yet to blossom. Harrell is a good athlete who needs to step up as a pass rusher off the edge for a defense that needs playmakers. Another veteran to keep an eye on is cornerback Richard Taylor, who has been granted a sixth year of eligibility after suffering injuries to both knees during his career.

The buzz

The players will need to adapt to several new coaches, including special teams coach Charles Bankins and defensive coordinator Don Brown. Look for Brown, who was the coach at Massachusetts the past five years, to introduce a more aggressive defense. Another big change was the announcement that offensive coordinator James Franklin is the coach-in-waiting. Ralph Friedgen has three years left on his deal, but it's not known when Franklin officially will take over the program. Until then, how will that dynamic impact the roster?

Tom Dienhart is the national senior writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at dienhart@yahoo-inc.com.



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