Maryland Terrapins: Important Players Heading into the Season

Timothy JacksonContributor IIIAugust 25, 2011

Maryland Terrapins: Important Players Heading into the Season

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    There are high hopes surrounding the Maryland Terrapins as they enter into the 2011 football season. Randy Edsall takes over as head coach following the firing of coach Ralph Friedgen. The Terps also recently revealed new-look jerseys, adding to the excitement for the upcoming season.

    The Terps finished last year 9-4 with a victory over ECU in the Military Bowl. This year's team has a lot of young talent along with some experienced veterans who will hopefully contribute to an even better season in 2011.

    Let's take a look at a few players who will be essential to a successful season for the Terps in 2011. 

Danny O'Brien

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    Danny O'Brien is arguably the best quarterback in the ACC and is only entering his sophomore year as the Terps' QB.

    Last year O'Brien only started nine games, but still managed to throw for 2,438 yards, 22 TDs and only eight INTs. He also has the perfect build for the QB position, at 6'3", 215 pounds. 

    The biggest adjustment for O'Brien will be adapting to his new weapons. O'Brien had the luxury of throwing to Torrey Smith, who is now playing for the Baltimore Ravens, last year. He will have to figure out how to continue putting up a high level of production without the partnership of a true No.1 receiver.

    There may be some bumps in the road, but I expect O'Brien to improve on his freshman numbers and successfully lead a fairly potent Terrapin offense.

D.J. Adams

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    I know that Davin Meggett is currently the No. 1 RB on the depth chart, but D.J. Adams has the ability to take the No. 1 spot over by the end of the year.

    Last year Adams only rushed for 239 yards on 67 carries, but he scored 11 touchdowns. The low number of yards can be heavily attributed to how he was used. Adams was used purely on goal line and short yardage situations, rarely getting a chance to bust out for a huge number of yards.

    Adams has a solid build at 5'10", 220 pounds, and shows explosion, power and speed through holes. He also doesn't hesitate when he sees a hole—a good quality when it comes to being a productive RB.

    Similar to O'Brien, Adams is only entering his sophomore year. He will certainly be a major factor for the Terps moving forward, but in terms of this year, Adams will have to capitalize on the opportunities he is given and try to improve his yards per carry. Hopefully he will get some more opportunities outside of short yardage situations.

Quintin McCree

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    Quintin McCree is entering his senior year at WR for the Terps. Unfortunately, he has the difficult task of filling in for Torrey Smith. 

    McCree totaled only 188 yards on 16 receptions and one touchdown in 2010. McCree will not be and never has been Torrey Smith, but he is an athletic receiver with decent size at 6'1". At only 190 lbs, he has the speed for the deep ball, but is somewhat light to go across the middle.

    McCree is going to be the No. 1 receiving threat and needs to be a key contributor if the Terps hope to win double-digit games this year. His performance will also determine how successful Danny O'Brien is. If McCree steps up and becomes a legit No. 1 WR, O'Brien's life will be a whole lot easier.

Andrew Gonnella

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    Andrew Gonnella is a redshirt senior, leader and team captain along the Terps' offensive line. He is a 6'5", 295-pound lineman who has starting experience at both right and left guard.

    In 2011, he will have the task of anchoring the OL at the LG position. Gonnella's play will greatly influence how the other players along the line perform. The offensive line must be a strength if Danny O'Brien hopes to improve this season.

    Gonnella will certainly be in the running for All-ACC honors and has to be if the Terps offense hopes to be productive.

Kenny Tate

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    Considering the coaching overhaul and the fact that he would've been at least a second-round pick, I was actually surprised to see Kenny Tate come back for his senior season.

    With his return, Kenny Tate is the best player on the Terrapins roster. He will probably be in the race for various defensive awards this season, including the Butkus and Bednarik Awards.

    As one of the defensive leaders, it will be Tate's responsibility to not only do his part, but also to put his teammates in the correct spot to make plays. 

    The biggest obstacle facing Tate is his transition from safety to the star position, which is basically outside linebacker. I don't feel like this will be too much of an issue, but Tate needs to play at an All-American level if the defense hopes to perform at a high level. 

Cameron Chism

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    Cameron Chism is a senior corner on the Terrapin defense. He has been a starter for two years and will be the leader of the defensive backfield.

    Chism's stats last year do not tell the story of how well he actually played. He didn't intercept a single pass last year, but he constantly took the best WR on the other team out of the game. I mean, Nnamdi didn't get an INT last year, but he is still considered an elite corner (just saying).

    Similar to Tate, Chism has to play at a high level for this defense to be successful. 

Joe Vellano

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    Joe Vellano is a redshirt junior and team captain. He is a consensus preseason All-ACC selection and the anchor of the defensive line.

    Vellano will be responsible for taking on double teams and providing stability along the line, especially with the uncertainty surrounding other starters along the defensive line.

    He has a good motor when it comes to getting after the QB, but his strength comes against the run. As long as Vellano can clog up holes in the run game, the Terps have LBs David Mackall and Demetrius Hartsfield. 

    In my opinion, Vellano is not the most talented player on the defense, but he is the most important. The pressure and push he gets up the middle will affect both the pass rush and the run game. If he is able to get pressure, it will only free up lanes for the LBs to also get to the QB. Also, the more pressure that the Terps defense gets on the QB as a whole, the more that QB will make mistakes.