Jeez...was last year tough!!! I was seriously disappointed with Rockin' Randy's first year as Football Program CEO. He brought in a crappy OC whom he let go; a DC whom he primarily brought in as a LB coach but subsequently promoted to DC...before letting him go...sigh.
Lets start with the issues before we end with the hopeful...
Causes for Concern:
· We can start with the obvious: our QBs are true freshman. ACL injury to incumbent, redshirt Junior C.J. Brown, during a non-contact drill has decimated the depth most important position in football. Starter, Peyton Hills is a dual threat starter out of Pennsylvania. He seems to be a good fit for Locksly's offense. His backup is a kid out of South Carolina that tore HS camps a new one towards the end of the recruiting period. He is more of a pocket QB and more the natural thrower than Hills. To shore up the depth, promising and uber athletic Devin Burns moved from WR back to his HS position of QB...Ryan Tannehill anyone? I am very impressed with this kid...asked the coaches to move him back to QB for the welfare of the team. Obviously, their experience worries the hell out of me but all 3 of these kids bring some talent to the position.
·However, the QB position is not the biggest concern for me...it is the OL. Specifically, both the tackle positions are a real question mark. I am in the Bill Parcell's school of football in that you build a team through the trenches and the tackle positions are always the most important. Last year, the tackles were manned by the athletic & promising LT Max Garcia (who transferred to Florida) and by the solid and very experienced (30 starts in 33 games) RT R.J. Dill (who transferred to Rutgers...really? Big East? Rutgers? Come on!!). They are replaced by (as of the most current depth chart) athletic but limited experienced redshirt sophomore LT, Nick Klemm, and solid but oft-injured RT Justin Gilbert. Behind Klemm is true freshman and highly touted tackle Mike Madaras. Hopefully these two can push each other so we can get the most talent out of that position.
· Finally, the biggest worry is the injuries we have faced throughout the team. Did the Terps anger the College Football gods?!?! I mean the list is endless:
And thats just barely over half!!! The talent on the injury list alone can make parts a pretty good team. I mean, hell, starting QB, NFL level S/LB, promising d-linemen, starting kicker, starting G, starting K to name a few.
The Terps is playing with a tough hand, indeed (and the first game has not even played yet). Lets look forward to, hopefully, good times ahead.
Big Time Hope:
·There is some reason for optimism, however. One of the biggest reasons is the talent at the skill positions. Lets start with whom I consider the leader of the offense, wide receiver Kevin Dorsey. He had a few big games last year (who remembers him destroying Miami CBs, including the 52 yard reception). Considering the QB play last year, he had a great season with 573 yards on 43 receptions. He provides great athleticism, feel for the position & leadership. I truly believe he is a legit #1 WR. The other receivers are pretty solid with former 4 star WR Boykins the vet of the group. Backing him up are skilled sophomore Marcus Leak and talented redshirt freshman Nigel King and Tyrek Cheeseboro. Finally, former 5 star/ #2 WR in the country, the electric playmaker (who have been compared to everyone from DeSean Jackson to Percy Harvin) is the electric playmaker that will lineup all over the field.
Note: Sorry for the tardiness of this post, but man, how sweet were those moves by Stefon Diggs against Bill & Mary??? His ability to stop on a dime, make people miss...Jeez!!! His ability to cut back was soooooo BadAstrick!!!!
· I think the biggest strength on this team will be the the defense. Lets start at the top of the program. This offseason, we replaced the crap-tastic DC Todd Bradford with Brian Stewart. Brain Stewart coaches an opportunistic 3-4 scheme who has led some damn good defenses in both college & the NFL. As the Dallas Cowgirls DC, he had the 13th ranked D in terms of points in both 2007 & 2008 (9th in yards in 2007). His main goal is to attack the QB as he was 3rd & 1st in the NFL in sacks in 2007/2008 respectfully. In 2011 with Houston, he ranked 35th in the nation in Opponents yards per play (I didn't think Yard's per game would be that accurate due to the high amount of plays forced by the high-tempo offense), 36th in the nation in sacks per game AND 20th in the nation with interceptions per game.
He takes over a pretty experienced group, with majority of the talent being in the front 7. The defense is led by All American DT/DE senior Joe Vellano. He led the nation in tackles (including his CRAZY 20 tackle game against Georgia Tech). Also on the line is stout and dependable NT/DE senior AJ Francis (and probably the best personality on the team...hilarious dude). Those 2 will eat space for a great set of LBs: inside linebackers, senior Demetrius Hartsfield & true sophomore Cole Farrand and outside linebackers junior Darrin Drakeford, and true sophomores Alex Twine. The sophomores are keeping the seat warm for NFL level talent, senior Kenny Tate (who should be back within a month).
· The final reason to be hopeful is the just the youth of this team. We have many good underclassmen spread throughout this roster. That, combined with top notch recruiting led by OC Mike Locksly, gives me some hope for the future of this team!
This year will be tough (esp after witnessing the Bill & Mary game). Hopefully, there will be definite improvement with Hillis as he picks up experience. If he improves and limits his turnovers, gets the ball to our talented skill positions, and our defense plays up to its potential, the Terps may be able to surprise a few teams.