- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 3, 2009

STABILITY AT QB

Nothing infuses Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen with more hope than the presence of a three-year starter at quarterback. Chris Turner helped the Terrapins reach bowl games the past two seasons, and it’s possible he could etch his name throughout Maryland’s passing records. Consistency is Turner’s admitted bugaboo, but during camp he has looked like a guy who Friedgen believes can be the team’s “stabilizer.” With a mostly untested offensive line, Turner’s steadiness will be required for a good season.

FOUR-SIGHT

Maryland opens with a potentially rocky trip to Pac-10 contender California, but an opportunity exists to rebound with a four-game homestand that takes the Terps into conference play. James Madison and Middle Tennessee are both tricky but possible victories, and Rutgers is a stealthy Big East title contender. Throw in a visit from Clemson, and the Terps have four games in a friendly environment they could win. If Maryland fares well in that stretch, the season suddenly looks a lot more promising.

PLAYER ON THE SPOT

Adrian Moten

6-2, 230, linebacker

Perhaps no other player fits Maryland’s new defensive scheme better than Moten, a junior who inherits the starting strongside linebacker job after two years as a super sub. Part of Moten’s value lies in his pass rushing, which is expected to be exploited with regularity. He and Alex Wujciak are the certainties in a unit that features promising redshirt freshman Demetrius Hartsfield and a pair of true freshmen who enrolled a semester early (Darin Drakeford and Avery Murray).

BROWN IN TOWN

Maryland dramatically revamped its defense after ex-coordinator Chris Cosh left for Kansas State and Don Brown was hired after a head coaching stint at Massachusetts. The Terps’ philosophy shifted from containment to full-scale attack, and the oft-protected defensive backs will operate in man coverage frequently. The blitzing figures to provide cover for an inexperienced defensive line, a unit that enters the season with seven career starts.

A DATE WITH TATE

Brown’s addition also bodes well for a veteran secondary, and no other position on the roster is deeper than safety. While seniors Jamari McCollough and Terrell Skinner are set up for solid seasons, no one has looked better throughout camp than Kenny Tate. The sophomore — all 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds of him — could emerge as a disruptive force, from the speed that helps him in coverage to the improved defensive instincts Maryland can deploy on the blitz. Tate could be this team’s breakout star.

WIDEOUT ROULETTE

Speedster Darrius Heyward-Bey is gone, as is reliable slot receiver Danny Oquendo, but Maryland has no shortage of options in the passing game. Returning starter Torrey Smith is an obvious candidate to emerge as one of Turner’s favorite targets, but junior Adrian Cannon is a breakout possibility. In all, Maryland has nine scholarship possibilities who could take turns as regulars, and depth-chart jockeying at all three receiver slots throughout the season appears plausible.

WHAT TO EXPECT

If it’s anything like last year, just about everything. Maryland is 6-2 against ranked teams the past two seasons, so bank on a victory or two no one sees coming. The Terps also have three losses to opponents who eventually finished with a losing record, so look for a stinker, too. Ultimately, the inexperienced offensive line is going to dictate the overall tenor of the season. If it coalesces quickly, an eight- or nine-win year is possible. If not, Maryland might miss a bowl for the first time since 2005. Most likely, the Terps scratch out six or seven wins and wind up in a lower-tier bowl.

SCHEDULE

Date Opponent Time

Sept. 5 at California 10

Sept. 12 James Madison 6

Sept. 19 Middle Tennessee 3:30

Sept. 26 Rutgers TBA

Oct. 3 Clemson TBA

Oct. 10 at Wake Forest TBA

Oct. 17 Virginia TBA

Oct. 24 at Duke TBA

Nov. 7 at N.C. State TBA

Nov. 14Virginia Tech TBA

Nov. 21 at Florida State TBA

Nov. 28 Boston College TBA

All times p.m.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide