Saturday, August 21, 2010



By Jeff Batzel

After a disappointing 2-10 campaign last fall, Ralph Friedgen has his work cut out for him in College Park. It would seem that the Terps have nowhere to go but up the ladder in the ACC standings. However, in the ACC media’s preseason poll, Maryland was solidly at the bottom of the Atlantic Division predictions. Friedgen’s task, ultimately, may not be as easy as it would appear.

The Terps wins in 2009 both came at home. Maryland beat I-AA James Madison in OT and squeaked by Clemson in their only ACC win. The Terps ranked 11th of 12 offensively in the ACC and last in scoring defense in the conference.


Backfield- Jamarr Robinson will head into this season, his first full season as the starter, as the

focal point of an offense that struggled to score in 2009. "I saw tremendous progress


in him this summer. I just think he's a lot more comfortable with his reads and his decision-making. The thing I really noticed, though, over the course of the summer and spring, is I think he's really become more of a leader,” commented Coach Friedgen. Robinson, who started two games late in the ’09 campaign, completed over 50% of his passing attempts for nearly 500 yards and adds a running dimension to the QB position. “ I'm very confident in our offense. I feel like we're going to do great things," Robinson said regarding turning the struggling offense (next to last in the ACC in ’09) around.

It helps that Robinson has two other outstanding skill position threats to help with a Terp turnaround. One of those, Senior Da’Rel Scott, will line up in the backfield with Robinson at the Running Back position. Scott ran for over 1,000 yards and was a first team ACC All-Star as a Sophomore but was hampered by injuries last fall. Scott still ran for 400+ yards and 5.0 yards per carry in a season where he was at less than 100%. Scott has reportedly improved his 40 time by nearly a tenth to a lightning fast 4.29 after running on the Terp track squad last spring. “I feel I have an additional burst that I did not have before,” Scott proclaimed.

Junior Davin Meggett, who filled in for Scott off and on in 2009 gives the Terps a second seasoned weapon in the running back stable. "We have always been a one-two punch. Da'Rel (Scott) and I have always worked well together and we don't look to change that this year,” Meggett said.

Receivers- Junior Torrey Smith, the Terps leading receiver from a year ago returns giving Maryland, and Robinson, the top-notch target they need to lead the receiving side of a quite possibly strong aerial attack. Smith was selected by the ACC media as a two position first team pre-season ACC player this year. Smith (81 receptions for 824 yards and 5 TD’s in ’09) was tabbed at WR and Special Teams for his Kickoff return ability. Smith averaged 25 yards per return and had 2 TD’s returning kickoffs in ’09. Adrianne Cannon, a senior who had 468 yards in 44 catches last year, will man the other WR spot. Big Devonte Campbell (6’2” 255) will get the nod at TE. Campbell, who started in 4 games last year, is just a Sophomore. Will Yeatman, a transfer from Notre Dame, is an unknown after having been out of football for 2 years, but could give the Terps another TE candidate.

Offensive Line- Here lies the biggest question mark, in this writers opinion, regarding the ability of the Maryland offense to produce this year. Maryland lost two starters including NFL draftee Phil Costa. Paul Pinegar, Gonnella and Dill are the returning starters and two others, Bennett Fulper and Lewis, earned starts last season. How far this group comes along may play a huge role in how much time Robinson has to throw to his stalwart receivers and whether Scott and Meggett become the one-two rushing punch that they are capable of. Pinegar will move to Center to replace Costa who is in the Cowboys training camp. Dill earned All ACC Freshman honors last year at Right Tackle. Gonnella will open the season at Left Guard. Pete White, a highly regarded redshirt Freshman, will back up Gonnella. Fulper and Lewis will apparently battle for the Right Guard position. Sophomore Justin Gilbert, a reserve in ’09, apparently won the Left Tackle job in the spring.

Offensive Outlook- Improvement, barring injuries, seems imminent. The only question is, how much improvement. If the Offensive line gells and Robinson becomes a commanding leader to go with his athleticism at quarterback, then the Terps could be dramatically improved on the offensive side of the ball this year.


Defensive Line- Sophomore Tackle AJ Francis is the lone holdover from the ’09 Defensive front four. Francis was an honorable mention Freshman All-American last year. Despite 3 other starters graduating, the Terps do return a plethora of players who rotated in at the Line positions last season. Junior Derek Drummond and Sophomores Zach Kerr and Carl Russell saw action in all 12 contests last year. Sophomore Joe Vellano, who was injured through most of ’09 had an outstanding spring and should earn a starting Tackle nod. Sophomores Justin Anderson and Isaiah Ross are battling, and may end up sharing, the strongside Defensive End job. Drummond will most likely earn the other DE spot.

Linebackers- The LB corp, led by Senior Alex Wujciak (6’3”, 255) will be the heart and soul of the Terp defense. Wujciak is on several post season “watch lists” and is a consensus pre-season


All ACC selection. Wujciak had 131 tackles last season and 133 in 2008. He heads a talented LB corps that also returns Adrian Moten and Demetrius Hartsfield. Moten is a Senior while Hartsfield is just a Sophomore and comes off a fine rookie season that saw him gain All ACC Freshman 1st team honors. “He may have had the best spring of any of the linebackers,” Friedgen said of Hartsfield. The Terps return their top three backups, most notably Will Pooler who had 43 tackles in a reserve role. Incoming true Freshman David Mackall

turned some heads in the spring and according to Friedgen, “We may have to find ways to get him in the game.” Mackall enrolled early at UM last January.

Secondary- The lone returnee is CB Cameron Chism. Chism led the team with 4 interceptions last season. Junior Tate and senior Antwine Perez should open the season as the No. 1 safeties. Trenton Hughes and Dexter McDougle will battle for, or share, the other CB spot.

Tate and Perez are experienced performers who combined to start five games last season. Both are good tacklers and have been significant contributors the last two seasons. This appears to be the biggest question mark, defensively for the Terps and it is not out of the question for a member of the Freshman class just recruited to have an opportunity for immediate playing time at safety.

Defensive Outlook- Although the Terps will be very strong at Linebacker and potentially better in the Defensive Line, their problem area appears to be the secondary. Will Defensive coordinator Don Brown figure a way to put enough pressure on opposing QB’s to keep the pressure off his inexperienced secondary? That could be the key on defense. Don’t underestimate Wujciak and Moten as leaders. It’s not out of the question that one of the biggest defensive turnarounds in ACC history could take place in College Park this year.


Sophomore Nick Ferrera was more than adequate last year, hitting on 18 of 25 field goals and a long of 50 yards. Ferrera is versatile enough that he handled some punting duties in a pinch also. Senior Travis Baltz returns this year after a Junior season plagued by injuries. Baltz averaged 40.7 yards per boot. Torrey Smith, one of the finest kickoff returners in the nation, gives the Terps “instant TD” potential. Smith averaged 25 yards per return and scored two TD’s on KO returns last season. The biggest job the staff has to do is improve the horrendous punt coverage that hampered the Terps in 2009.


If the Terps are to be successful this year, their offense must produce and their defense has to become at minimum, adequate. The best scenario for the Terps this year is that they find creative ways to put the ball in Torrey Smith’s hands, that Robinson gains confidence early in the season that carries him through and that the defense bends but doesn’t least not too often. Maryland has a tough opener at Baltimore on Labor Day against Navy. They will be an underdog, and deservedly so, in that game. A respectable performance win or lose is imperative as is 3 of 4 wins in their subsequent games when they host Morgan State, Florida International and Duke. A trip to West Virginia is also sandwiched inside that home stand.

A 3-2 record and 2 weeks to prepare for a trip to Death Valley to battle Clemson could put the Terps in a position to get six wins and become Bowl eligible. Besides beating Clemson for the second straight season, home game games versus Wake Forest, Florida State and NC State are all winnable and if things are going well the Terps should expect to win in a trip to Virginia on November 13.

Obviously things could go awry for the Terps also. They are young on both the offensive and defensive lines and their secondary is a huge questionmark. Even if the offense produces, they could get outscored in shootout style games. It’s doubtful the Terps won’t exceed their two wins of 2009, but 3-9 or 4-8 are not out of the question.

There is little doubt that Ralph Friedgen is on the hot seat this year. We feel he will come through and that his youth will mature quickly and that Don Brown’s defensive schemes will come together better than they did in ’09. We like the Terrapins to get wins over Morgan State, Florida Int’l, Duke, Wake Forest and NC State at home and on the road at Virginia to go 6-6. This will set up the Terps, and Friedgen, for a possible run at the ACC title in 2011.


Sept. 6 vs Navy (At Baltimore)


Sept. 18 At West Virginia

Sept. 25 Florida International

Oct. 2 Duke

Oct. 16 At Clemson

Oct. 23 At Boston College

Oct. 30 Wake Forest

Nov. 6 At Miami

Nov. 13 At Virginia

Nov. 20 Florida State

Nov. 27 N.C. State


Pictures courtesy

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