2008 ACC Football Season Preview: Maryland

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Maryland Terrapins

Returning Starters: 14 (9 offense, 5 defense)

Key Losses: RB Keon Lattimore, RB Lance Ball, TE Joey Haynos, OG Andrew
Crummey, DT Dre Moore, DT Carlos Feliciano, LB Erin Henderson, CB Isaiah
Gardner, FS J.J. Justice, SS Christian Varner

Key Returnees: QB Chris Turner, QB Jordan Steffy, QB Josh Portis, WR
Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR Isaiah Williams, C Edwin Williams, OG Phil Costa, OG
Jaimie Thomas, OT Dane Randolph, OT Scott Burley, DT Jeremy Navarre, DE Trey
Covington, LB Moise Fokou, LB Dave Philistin, CB Kevin Barnes

Overall View

Maryland
returns most of their starters on offense, and could have the best offensive
line in the ACC. However, there are major question marks at quarterback and
running back, and those positions could ultimately hold the offense back.

Maryland has a couple of good linebackers and some experience on the
defensive line. However, the Terp defense is pretty soft up front, and they lost
their most physical defensive lineman (Dre Moore) in April’s NFL Draft.

This team is well coached though, and if they get good quarterback play they
could be the surprise team of the ACC’s Atlantic Division.

Offensive Strength

Maryland returns five offensive linemen who started at least seven games last
season. Their only loss is guard Andrew Crummey, who was the best lineman on the
team last year. After his loss in the middle of the season due to injury, the
line didn’t play as well. However, with four senior starters, as well as big
senior tight end Dan Gronkowski, this line should be formidable in 2008.

The top lineman on the team is center Edwin Williams. He has started 25 games
over the past two seasons for Maryland and should be one of the top linemen in
the conference this year.

Offensive Weakness

Maryland has a quarterback controversy. Jordan Steffy was the original
starter last year, then gave way to Chris Turner. Turner gave the Terps a spark
in the middle of the season, but overall he was very average. Josh Portis throws
his name into the hat this year as well. After transferring from Florida, Portis
was academically ineligible last year.

Who will it be this year? No one is sure at this point. Each player has his
own set of backers. Right now, none of the quarterbacks have shown enough to be
a strength of the team, and with the negative touchdown-to-interception ratio of
last season, they should probably be considered the major weakness.

Defensive Strength

Despite
losing All-ACC linebacker Erin Henderson, Maryland should have some good
linebackers on the field this year. Moise Fokou had seven tackles for loss last
year, and Dave Philistin had 124 tackles, including 21 in one game! The third
starter will be sophomore Adrian Moten, who had 50 tackles and 5.5 sacks as a
reserve r-freshman last year. This group should be solid.

It always seems like the Terps have good linebackers. Recently they’d put E.J.
Henderson, D’Qwell Jackson and Erin Henderson on the field. Philistin will be
looking to claim the next great Maryland linebacker role this season.

However, no group of linebackers can operate at 100% efficiency without a
good defensive line in front of them. As we’ll see below, Maryland’s linebackers
might not have that luxury.

Defensive Weakness

Maryland’s defense has been soft recently. They aren’t a particularly tough
group to block up front if you have a decent offensive line. They allowed 4.1
yards per carry on the ground last year, not a particularly good number when you
consider that there aren’t that many good offensive lines in the ACC.

Maryland lost their top two defensive tackles, Dre Moore and Carlos Feliciano.
To compensate, they moved defensive end Jeremy Navarre to defensive tackle. The
270-pound Navarre is a bit undersized, but as a senior he should be able to do a
solid job. Still, that move won’t make the middle of the Terps’ defense any more
physical. To have a good defense in 2008, Maryland will have to get tougher up
front.

Will Stewart’s Take

Maryland has some good pieces, and some not so good pieces, so their season
will come down to matchups, chemistry and schedule. MD’s OOC schedule isn’t
particularly strong, with the exception of a visit from Cal on September 13th.
Looking at the rest of their schedule, linked below, it’s hard to project how
the Terps’ season will go. But that’s the nature of a team projected anywhere
from 30th to 45th in the nation — they could go anywhere from 4-8 to 9-3.

The schedule makers didn’t do the Terps any favors by scheduling a trip to
Blacksburg on Thursday night. (Thursday night clashes between MD and VT are
becoming a staple.) I expect the Hokies to handle the Terrapins in Lane on Nov.
6th, but I have no clue what the rest of Maryland’s season holds.

Since winning 31 games from 2001-2003, MD has become a team that runs under
the radar. If they put a good QB on the field this year, leverage that offensive
line, and make some breaks on defense, they could emerge again in the ACC.
That’s not saying anything particularly groundbreaking, but that’s been Maryland
football lately — not particularly groundbreaking.

Maryland
2008 Football Schedule

Maryland
2008 Roster

Maryland
2008 Depth Chart
(PDF file)

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