Early Look at the 2009 Maryland Terrapins


by - Senior Writer -
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The next installment of ACC spring reviews and early previews centers on the Maryland Terrapins. Head Coach Ralph Friedgen guided the Terrapins to their sixth bowl appearance in his eight years in College Park, a 45-38 win over Nevada in the Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl, and an 8-5 overall record and 4-4 in the ACC. The Terrapins were within one win of earning a berth in the ACC Championship Game, but dropped late season contests to Florida State and Boston College. The Terps defeated four nationally-ranked teams in 2008.

The Terrapins also tried to add stability to their program in early February when they named a coach-in-waiting for whenever Ralph Friedgen retires, naming offensive coordinator James Franklin as his eventual successor. Franklin is young, yet is recognized as one of the better recruiters in the region.

WHO IS GONE - The Terps suffered the biggest losses to graduation of any of the ACC teams. Maryland lost 13 starters and 31 lettermen, including five starters on offense. Those include C Edwin Williams, G Jaimie Thomas, T Scott Burley, TE Dan Gronkowski and WR
Darrius Heyward-Bey . Those five combined for 150 starts. On defense, Maryland lost seven starters, including DT Jeremy Navarre, DE Mack Frost and LE Trey Covington, LBs Moise Foukou and Dave Philistin and DB’s Kevin Barnes and Jeff Allen, who had 182 starts between them. Also departing is PK Obi Egekeze who made 15-of-24 FGs last fall.

WHO IS RETURNING- The Terps return six starters on offense, including playmakers in TBs Da’Rel Scott and Devin Meggett, who combined to run for 1,590 yards and 12 TDs last year. QB Chris Turner also returns, and will be throwing to speedy WRs in Torrey Smith, Ronnie Tyler, Emani Lee-Odai
and LaQuan Williams. One key will be the offensive line, which has to rebuild around T Bruce Campbell and G Phil Costa. On defense, the Terrapins return only four starters, but one of them is LB Alex Wujciak, who averaged 10.2 tackles per game last season. DT’s Travis Ivey and Dion Armstrong ended the year as the starters upfront and LB Adrian Moten made three starts and had 25 tackles last year. CB Anthony Wiseman and FS Terrell Skinner return in the secondary, which also returns CB Jamari McCollough, who started 2 games in 2008, but led the team in interceptions with four. Also returning are DB’s Nolan Carroll, who had 37 tackles and 8 pass breakups in part-time action, and Kenny Tate, who had one interception and 15 tackles as a freshman.

BIG SPRING QUESTIONS - There are a number of questions that surrounded this team in the spring. The offensive line has questions as it rebuilds, and a lot of the freshmen from last season, like Stephen St. John, Andrew Gonnella, Lamar Young, Justin Lewis, and R.J. Dill will be under the microscope in March and April. The wide receiving corps, after losing Heyward-Bey to the NFL draft, needed to find a playmaker, and the defense will have to rebuild. Another huge question for this team heading into the spring will be if Friedgen and Franklin can keep all of their running backs happy. Scott is without a doubt the featured back in this offense, but if the offensive line struggles and the Terps have to turn to the air to score points, it will be hard finding carries for everyone. Davin Meggett and Morgan Green are also capable backs. Green ran for 72 yards on 10 carries in the Humanitarian Bowl.

SPRING PRACTICE AND GAME - Sophomore QB Jamarr Robinson tossed three touchdown passes, all to wide receiver Quintin McCree, leading the White team to a 34-24 victory over the Red squad

"I thought it was a good scrimmage," Friedgen said. "We limited what we were doing defensively (today). But I think it's been a very good spring, and our wide-receiver position seems like a different guy every week rises to the occasion."

The battle to see who the top receivers will be was not settled in the spring and will continue into the fall. The Terps have nine scholarship wideouts, and all showed a little something in spring practice. .

McCree certainly made a case for playing time, posting a game-high 163 receiving yards on four receptions, including touchdown catches of 58 and 75 yards from Robinson, who completed 12 of 21 passes for 253 yards during the spring game.

Robinson solidified his role as the No. 2 quarterback, behind Turner, heading into the fall. Robinson had two of his TD passes in the first half when the White team overcame an early 7-0 deficit by scoring 21 straight points, aided by a pair of blocked punts.

The White team also had some solid defensive play, with seven tackles for loss and four sacks.

"Defensively, I think today, when we just limit some things, it makes it a little bit tougher on them, but I've been very pleased with them overall," Friedgen said. "I think they're really progressing."
Junior Drew Gloster, who has made the move from tight end to middle linebacker, led the White team with 10 tackles, including 1 1/2 for loss. Redshirt freshman Demetrius Hartsfield, who has impressed the staff from his outside LB spot, had seven tackles.

Turner played for the Red team and completed 15 of 21 passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns.
Cannon was the top receiver for the Red squad, posting five receptions for 99 yards, including a 23-yard TD pass from Turner in the third quarter.

Friedgen said he likes what he saw in the spring from his quarterbacks and receivers.

"I just think we've got a lot of players who can make plays there," Friedgen said of the wideouts. "I think Chris is handling the offense very well. I think he had one mistake today, taking a sack to the Reds, but other than that I thought he played very good. I thought Jamarr (Robinson) is coming along and playing pretty well, also. “

2009 SEASON AND SCHEDULE - The Terrapins get the season started off with a trip play Jeff Tedford and his California Bears. The Terps return home for two games, both very winnable, against James Madison and Middle Tennessee. However, the Blue Raiders stunned the Terps with a 24-14 win at Floyd Stadium in Murfreesboro, TN, last September. The Terps close out September with an improved Rutgers squad, then take their first foray into the ACC when they host the Tigers on Oct. 3rd. Four of their next seven contests are played on the road, starting a week later at Wake Forest. The Terps close out with games against Virginia, Duke, N.C. Sate, Virginia Tech, Florida St. and Boston College. The lone open date comes on Halloween, sandwiched between the Duke and N.C. State games. Just like last season, this team appears capable of either winning or losing almost every game on their schedule.

CLEMSON AND MARYLAND IN 2008 - This one truly was a tale of two halves as the No. 20 Tigers dropped a 20-17 decision to the Terrapins. The Tigers had won three consecutive contests following a season-opening loss to Alabama, and looked poise to blow the Terps out of Death Valley. James Davis and C.J. Spiller combined for 193 yards and two touchdowns as the Tigers took a 17-6 halftime lead. However, the Tigers could have been up by more, but several first half miscues held them back. Jacoby Ford fumbled a punt on one series, while Cullen Harper threw a backward pass to Aaron Kelly that was knocked down and recovered by the Terps. Spiller had a 59-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that was called back on a Kelly hold as well. Heyward-Bey had a reverse that covered 76 yards to set up the first of two second half touchdowns for the Terps. Da’Rel Scott had the winning score on a one-yard run early in the fourth quarter, and the Clemson offense was unable to muster any further points in the loss.

WAY TOO EARLY PREVIEW OF CLEMSON AND MARYLAND IN 2009 - Supposing that the Terps split Rutgers and California (they could also be 2-0, or 0-2) and have wins over Middle Tennessee and James Madison, Maryland could be 3-1 heading into their first ACC action when the host the Tigers. The Tigers will have had a much tougher road up to that point, having already played two conference games (Ga. Tech and Boston College) and had a home date the previous week against TCU. The Tigers traveled to Maryland two years ago, in the James Davis “guarantee game” and came away with a win, and had a great half against Maryland least season before the second half implosion. However, with Clemson already ACC tested and the offense and quarterback probably being more settled, this shapes up as another close contest but one Clemson should win. The Tiger defense should be able to control Turner and the passing game, but the key will be stopping the Maryland running game and making Turner and the young wideouts beat them. A healthy dose of Spiller and company against a young Maryland defense should be able to make all the difference in a big ACC road win. However, against the “Fridge”, anything can happen.

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