The Maryland football team began practicing this week, and the debut of Randy Edsall's Terps is less than a month away. Besides their new coach, whom Maryland lured away from Connecticut, the Terps have a pair of new coordinators, new uniforms, new standards of conduct, even a new football designed by Under Armour.
That’s a lot of change for one summer, which might explain why the ACC media picked the Terps to finish fifth in the Atlantic Division this season even though the Terps went 9-4 under Ralph Friedgen in 2010.
I’m not saying my fellow media members were right in doing so, but I can see where they’re coming from.
I can also see why Maryland fans feel slighted. Their 9-4 finish last year was a pleasant surprise, and the most stunning part of it was the play of freshman quarterback Danny O’Brien. He completed 57 percent of his passes for 2,438 yards and 22 touchdowns -- while throwing just eight interceptions -- and was named the ACC Rookie of the Year. With arguably the best quarterback in the conference, the Terps will have a chance to win every week.
But there are some major questions that this team needs to answer to silence its critics, and Jeff Barker, our Maryland beat writer, broke them down in a post on the Tracking the Terps blog.
For me, someone who doesn’t follow the team as closely, the biggest concern is the turnover at both the offensive and defensive coordinator positions. Gary Crowton, who wasn’t exactly a fan favorite at LSU, will coach the offense, and he plans on spreading things out to take advantage of O’Brien’s arm. Meanwhile, some guy named Todd Bradford will coach the defense after Don Brown bailed. Bradford was originially supposed to coach linebackers.
There could be an adjustment period as the Terps bust out their the new schemes in real game action. The problem is that the Terps don’t have a schedule that allows for an adjustment period. They open the schedule with a night game against Miami and play border rivals West Virginia the following weekend.
If the Terps can win at least one of those games, they’ll be OK. If not, it could get ugly for Esdall, who wasn’t the slam-dunk hire fans wanted when the Fridge was unceremoniously unplugged.
Your turn: What's the biggest question the Terps must answer?