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Maryland football: For Terps, FIU a chance to start over

Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown, left, throws a pass during the team's annual Red-White spring scrimmage in College Park on April 21, 2012.
Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown, left, throws a pass during the team's annual Red-White spring scrimmage in College Park on April 21, 2012. (ap file photo , Carroll County Times)

COLLEGE PARK - For every college football team in America, the first Saturday of a new season is a chance to start over.
Maryland and Florida International, who meet today at Byrd Stadium, would rather forget 2012.
Last year, the Terrapins endured a freakish series of injuries to their starting quarterbacks and finished with reserve freshman linebacker Shawn Petty calling signals. As a result, the Terrapins faded down the stretch. Maryland dropped its last six games, which negated a promising 4-2 start.
This year promises to be different. No. 1 quarterback C.J. Brown, made it through preseason practice unscathed, unlike last year. He will start the opener, lending a measure of experience and stability the Terrapins lacked after he went down with a preseason knee injury.
"He's been the leader throughout the winter and into training camp," said playmaking receiver/return man Stefon Diggs, now a sophomore. "He's done a great job."
Leading rusher Brandon Ross (390 yards in six games) also returns. He and Brown will operate behind an offensive line that has potential but lacks experience. Guard De'Onte Arnett is the lone senior starter in the group.
Edsall faces the same situation on defense, with question marks up front. The departures of stalwarts Joe Vellano and A.J. Francis leave two big holes along the defensive front.
But Edsall likes the attitude and makeup of this year's team, which shouldn't surprise anyone. As he begins his third season at Maryland, the program increasingly bears his stamp. Those who couldn't or wouldn't deal with his approach the last two years are gone. Most of those now in the program were brought in by Edsall and understand what is expected.
Florida International, under new head coach Ron Turner, is trying to establish an identity as well. The Golden Panthers' 2012 season - and its aftermath - was even uglier than Maryland's, if that's possible.
Entering last season, the program was coming off consecutive bowl bids and was expected to contend for the Sun Belt championship. Instead, FIU collapsed, finishing 3-9. But that was just the beginning. The school fired head coach Mario Cristobal, a move that kicked off a bizarre and embarrassing offseason. In mid-July, Kendrick Rhodes - the team's leading rusher the last two seasons - was dismissed from the team after he was charged with shooting a gun while on school property.
Just a few days later, a couple of FIU players caused a stir when they decided to change their clothes after a workout - in public. No charges were filed related to the incident. But the ensuing outcry over the naked football players at a local beach forced Turner to issue a public apology.
It was almost a relief when the offseason ended and practice began.
Quarterback Jake Medlock is one of the few assets FIU can count. He threw for 2,127 yards and 13 touchdowns against just two interceptions last season while missing three games due to injury. Medlock has a couple of nice targets in Willis Wright (25 catches for 633 yards) and Glen Coleman (13 for 227).
But there isn't much else.

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