Maryland Football: Eight Off-the-Wall Predictions for Edsall and Terps in 2011
The Ralph "Fridge" Friedgen era has come to an end in College Park, officially marking the beginning of a brand new era in Maryland Terrapin football.
After a brilliant turnaround to Maryland's football program, a season in which Ralph was named ACC's Coach of the Year by leading his Terps to an 8-4 season in 2010 (9-4 after Bowl win over East Carolina), UMD's athletic director made the decision to terminate Friedgen's contract. Friedgen's tenure as head coach lasted 10 years.
A couple weeks later, on Jan. 2, Maryland's hunt for the new head coach was over with the signing of Connecticut head coach Randy Edsall.
Here are eight off-the-wall predictions for Edsall's Terps this coming season.
1,000 Yards Rushing for Davin Meggett
Senior running back Davin Meggett, former NFL running back and returner Dave Meggett's son, ran for a career-high 720 yards in 2010 for the Terps, putting up a yards per carry average of 5.7 on 126 carries.
Meggett added four touchdowns on the ground, giving him 14 total over his three-year career.
All four of the quarterbacks on Maryland's spring roster are either freshmen or sophomores, meaning Edsall will be dealing with some immature signal-callers.
I wouldn't be surprised whatsoever if he shifted his offensive focus on the running game, giving the proven Meggett more touches throughout the season.
Consistent Starter at Quarterback
Last season, we saw a couple of quarterbacks hit the field for the Terrapins.
The shifty Jamarr Robinson made three starts under center, completing 26 of 49 pass attempts for 349 yards and 4 TD/2 INT.
The redshirted freshman, Danny O'Brien, started the remaining 10 games as the offensive leader, putting up a solid statline of 192-337, 2,438 yards, 22 TD, 8 INT.
O'Brien was named the ACC's Rookie of the Week five times, and the FWAA named him to its Freshman All-America team at season's end.
There will still be some immaturity that may show, leading to silly mistakes in terms of protecting the football, but in his sophomore season, I strongly believe that O'Brien will pull his own weight in leading this Terrapin squad to victory.
The star-power of senior Davin Meggett, as I pointed out in the previous slide, will surely aid in taking pressure away from O'Brien.
Photo from ESPN.com
Six Conference Wins
This season, the Terrapins chances of doing well in the ACC seem very good.
Last year, three of their four losses came against Conference foes (Clemson, Miami, Florida State) and only one ended up being decided by a huge margin (31-7 at Clemson).
The team's only home loss came against the Florida State Seminoles in the 11th game of the season.
Because of the fact that no one from the ACC has really shown huge signs in winning big this season, I think the Terps could finish towards the top of the ACC standings and possibly even beat Clemson and Florida State this season.
Kenny Tate Becomes Defensive Leader
One could argue that Tate was already somewhat of a defensive leader as a junior last season, helping to lead the Terps' defense to an impressive 2010 campaign.
The Achilles heel of the Terps last year was allowing the big play. At 9-4, they had a very strong run, but in those four defeats Maryland's defense allowed the opposing team to score 30 or more points three times (31-17 at West Virginia, 31-7 at Clemson, 26-20 at Miami, 30-16 vs. Florida State).
Tate put up impressive numbers at the safety position (100 total tackles, 8.5 TFL, 3.5 sacks, 3 INT, 7 PD in 13 starts), but it was linebacker Alex Wujciak who was the complete team leader for the Maryland Terrapins football program as a senior.
With Wujciak gone, and Tate making yet another position move--from safety to linebacker--it looks like the 6'4''/220 pound 21-year old will be the center of attention in the defensive backfield.
Tate was recruited by Maryland as a wide receiver, but he quickly made the transition to safety before the newly hired Edsall made the decision to switch him yet again.
Tate has already lined up from basically every defensive position already, and Edsall has decided that he will utilize Tate's versatility to the best of his ability. Smart move by the coach, and both Tate and the defense will benefit greatly from the switch.
Photo from ESPN.com
Defense Averages Less Than 20 Points a Game
Tate and Cameron Chism, along with the young hard-hitting defensive back Clarence Claiborne, headlines a young plethora of talent on Maryland's 2011 roster.
Defensive line Joe Vellano has added experience under his belt and will likely take another step forward in 2011.
With the leadership the Terps are bound to get out of these guys, Edsall's defense will hold its own whether or not the offense can produce up to their expectations.
Photo from csnwashington.com
After a very disappointing 2009 campaign in which Friedgen's Terps finished at the bottom of the ACC with a 2-10 record, Fridge turned things around for the better in his final season at the helm. With an 8-4 regular season, his Terrapins returned to a bowl game.
Defeating the East Carolina Pirates 51-20 in the Military Bowl, Terps fans have a newfound sense of hope for the 2011 season.
An up-and-coming quarterback with an experienced running back will help out with consistency on offense, while Kenny Tate leads the defense.
Edsall brings a fresh start to College Park, Md., and that will only lead to greener pastures in the coming years.
10-Win Season; AP Top 25
At 8-4, Maryland finished just outside of the top 25 in 2010.
Torrey Smith is gone, Da'Rel Scott is gone, Alex Wujciak is gone.
But hope is renewed with the young gun-slinging quarterback and some fresh legs lining up wide on offense. Maryland has a lot to look forward to these next few seasons, and it will all start with an impressive 10-win season.
Photo from washingtontimes.com
Student Section Completely Filled Each Week
If there's one thing I've learned about the University of Maryland, it's that the student's never fail to represent their sports teams.
They are very passionate about their Division I sports teams, and even during a down season, they support and cheer their hearts out at games.
With a new hope for the football team as they usher in a new era with athletic director Kevin Anderson and head coach Randy Edsall, there's absolutely no reason for the students to have a single empty seat in their section in 2011.
(Note: I understand that the photo is several years old, but it's the best one I could find of the Terps' football fans).