Maryland Football: 10 Benchmarks for Spring Success

Sam DrakeCorrespondent IMarch 21, 2012

Maryland Football: 10 Benchmarks for Spring Success

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    The Maryland Terrapins started out the season with a splash.

    First, they made national headlines with their uniforms that were designed and created by Under Armour. The uniforms created mixed emotions among college football fans and were compared to those of the Oregon Ducks.

    Next, the Terps won two of their first three games including beating a decent Miami team to open the season. 

    Then things started to go downhill. ACC freshman of the year in 2010, Danny O'Brien, was benched half way through the year in favor of C.J. Brown. That did not solve the sinking ship that was Maryland's football season. 

    They ended up last in the ACC with a record of 1-7 and an overall record of 2-10.

    Listed are 10 benchmarks that need to be met for Maryland football for their spring to be considered a success.

Find a New Quarterback

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    Danny O'Brien was benched last season in favor of backup C.J. Brown.

    O'Brien decided to transfer and was granted a full release and looks most likely headed to Vanderbilt.

    Now the Terps must decide whether to continue to start Brown or take a chance with Ricky Schultz.

    The most logical and likely thing that will happen is to start Brown. He has a lot of room to improve. Brown completed under 50 percent of his passes for 842 yards. He threw seven touchdowns compared to six interceptions.

Get Healthy

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    Last season, the Terp's defense was decimated by injuries.

    They lost starters to season-ending injuries including Justin Anderson (defensive line), Kenny Tate (LB), Matt Robinson (DB) and Isaiah Ross (DL).

    If they want to have any success next season, they must get their key players healthy and fit enough to endure spring practices without any setbacks.

Improve Defense

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    Maryland's defense was terrible last season.

    They ranked 102nd in the NCAA last season in points against with 34.3 per game. They were atrocious against teams with third down and yards to go. They allowed teams to get a first down 53 percent of the time which ranked last in the ACC and 119th in the NCAA.

    Their total defensive numbers were equally as bad. They allowed 457.2 yards per game which ranked 108th overall.

    They must improve by leaps and bounds this spring if they want a chance to compete in the ACC this year.

Improve Pass Offense

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    Maryland is a rush-first offense. That much is known

    However, to open up the run game, teams must respect the quarterback and the Terps' ability to throw the ball.

    The Terps ranked 75th overall in passing offense at 210 yards per game and ranked 110th in pass efficiency at a 105.6 rating.

    The quarterback must be able to throw the ball deep so linebackers will not play up and the defense will not load the box to guard against the run.

Improve Return Game

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    The return game for Maryland can definitely use some work.

    They ranked 99th overall in both punt returns and kick returns with 5.3 and 19.9 yards per return respectively.

    Having a poor special teams return game leads to poor field position for the offense witch would help attribute to the Terrapins' bad offensive numbers. 

Improve Red-Zone Offense

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    The red-zone offense for the Terrapins is another aspect of their game that needs to greatly improve.

    They scored on only 69.6 percent of their red-zone trips which translated to 111th overall in the NCAA. 

    The Terps' inability to score deep in their opponents zone was a key factor to why they were unable to win any of their last eight games.

    If Randy Edsall doesn't solve this problem, he will start to find his coaching seat to get a little warm.

Get Stefon Diggs Game Ready

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    Stefon Diggs was the No. 3 overall athlete in the 2012 recruiting class and decided to take his talents to Maryland to play for Edsall.

    He has the ability to play both the wide-receiver position as well as running back. He does stand 6'0' and can run the 40 in 4.45, so he translates better to a wide-receiver position where he can use his speed to run right by ACC defensive backs.

    Diggs can pay immediate gains in the offensive game by giving C.J. Brown a playmaker receiver to throw to. Also, he can be inserted into the return game and be just as explosive.

Recruiting Class

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    The rest of the 2012 recruiting class must get settled and figure out their role in the team next year.

    It is reasonable to expect Mike Madaras to get some time on the offensive line that can use some good players and talent. Others, like Wes Brown and Malcolm Culmer, would be wise to take a redshirt year and preserve their eligibility. 

    If the coaches can find some hidden talent and get this class to school without incident and have a good spring game, then they will be successful with their new recruits.

Good Spring Game

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    For most fans, college football season starts when the spring game starts.

    This allows fans to see the potential players that can make a difference for their favorite team. 

    Terp fans will want to forget about last season, and watching the spring game will help them with that. 

    That is, only if both Maryland teams come out and perform.

    If the team comes out and is flat and not very exciting, the fans will not want to come to the games. It will also show that this team has a lot of work that needs to be done during the summer months. The spring game could be a catalyst to a great season or a continuation of last season. 

Improve Rush Defense

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    As good as the Terps were rushing the ball, they were equally bad at preventing the run. They allowed 219.8 yards per game last season in the ACC. That number put them near the bottom of the NCAA, 111th overall.

    Part of this issue can be attributed to the injuries that decimated the defense for Maryland. 

    The Terps' defensive line must improve the ability to get into their opponents backfield and get more tackles for a loss.

    The coaching staff must have their defense bulk up and learn how to shed blockers and wrap up running backs.