Monday, August 6, 2012
Opening camp: Maryland
By Andrea Adelson
As ACC teams begin to start practicing again, Heather Dinich and I will have a quick preview of each team to get you caught up on the basics. The series concludes Tuesday with Virginia, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest. Next up ...
Start date: Today.
Predicted finish at media days: Sixth, Atlantic Division.
Biggest storyline: Putting 2011 behind. I know how excited everybody in College Park must be to just put 2011 to rest. The only way to do that is to get started this year, and coach Randy Edsall believes he has players onboard who want to do just that. The big headlines in the year-plus since Edsall arrived have been all about the defections, with 25 players leaving. Local and national columnist ripped Edsall every way you could possibly imagine. But Edsall has done his best to put on a happy face. He has new coordinators in Mike Locksley (offense) and (Brian Stewart) defense, and he does have one of the best interior linemen in the league in Joe Vellano. The nonconference schedule is not that imposing, either, with games against William & Mary, Temple, Connecticut and West Virginia. Maryland could very easily surpass last season's win total during its nonconference slate alone.
Biggest position battle: Running back. The Terrapins have to replace Davin Meggett, who led the team with 896 yards rushing and four touchdowns a year ago. Meggett was an incredibly reliable back for this team, so he leaves behind pretty big shoes to fill. Factor in the transfer of D.J. Adams, and it is really apparent Maryland has to find a starter and depth at the position. During the spring, big Brandon Ross (5-foot-10, 205 pounds) and Justus Pickett (5-10, 185) competed for the starting job. Ross redshirted last season, while Pickett ran for 274 yards and a touchdown as a true freshman. But you have to figure incoming freshmen like Wes Brown and Albert Reid are going to get a shot at playing time this season.
Who needs to step up: C.J. Brown. All eyes are going to be on the quarterback, for various reasons. Brown is now entrenched as the starter, but will have to make the transition to more of a pro-style offense. Does that mean there will be fewer opportunities to run, something he did so well last seaosn (574 yards, five touchdowns)? If Brown is going to be sitting in the pocket and throwing more, he has to work on his completion percentage (49.4 percent) and cut down on the mistakes (seven touchdowns to six interceptions). Brown was clearly thrown into a difficult situation last season, but now he is the man right out of the gates. How much he progresses and how well he learns the new offense will be critical for Maryland this season.