- Austin Ward, ESPN Staff Writer
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The spring workouts are in the books and the long offseason has arrived. But before diving into summer and the painful wait for football to return, we’re taking a look back at the developments from March and April and sneaking a peek at what to expect in the fall at Maryland.
Three things we learned in the spring
There are options in the backfield: Brandon Ross made the most of the final opportunity to impress the coaches in April, but his 90-yard, two-touchdown performance in the spring game wasn’t enough to clinch a starting job in a crowded derby at running back. Albert Reid and Jacquille Veii weren’t far behind with a combined 154 yards, and Wes Brown remains a candidate heading into the offseason as well.
The defensive backs can make life difficult: Randy Edsall was obviously disappointed in the turnovers by his quarterbacks, but the flip side is the Maryland coach can find reason to be excited by a secondary that nabbed three interceptions in the closing exhibition. Cornerback Will Likely snagged two of them for a group that Edsall still wants to be more consistent but seems to have enough talent to slow down passing attacks.
The Terps could use their weapons back at receiver: Stefon Diggs and Deon Long were healthy enough to appear in some 7-on-7 drills, but the talented receivers weren’t cleared yet to play in the spring game itself. Without those two, starting quarterback C.J. Brown tossed a couple interceptions and didn’t quite meet Edsall’s expectations as spring came to a close. Having that tandem to throw to will surely help.
Three questions for the fall
Is the program ready for the Big Ten?: The Terrapins aren’t exactly a stranger to tough competition, but transitioning to a new league can still be a challenge for a variety of reasons. Their new league didn’t throw its stiffest test at them with Indiana on the schedule to open up conference play, but Ohio State, Iowa and Wisconsin are all on deck after that to see if the Terrapins are up for the test in the Big Ten.
Who else will step up at wide receiver?: Once Diggs and Long are fully cleared and resume working out this summer, their spots are safe at the top of the depth chart at receiver. But Maryland can use a couple more targets for Brown to throw to, starting with a third wideout. Marcus Leak sat out the spring game with an injury of his own, but once his hamstring heals, he could provide some needed assistance in the passing game.
Can the veterans take the next step on defense?: Experience won’t be an issue for a unit that brings back nine starters and 18 players from its two-deep last season. But the Terrapins did leave room to grow last year, finishing No. 8 in the ACC in total defense and allowing more than 25 points per game. How much the veterans have grown since then will likely determine how successful Maryland’s first campaign in the Big Ten will be.
One way-too-early prediction
Maryland has enough pieces to work with to be a tough out in the Big Ten right away, and it shouldn’t be overlooked even when it has to hit the road. The Terrapins pay visits to established league heavyweights Wisconsin, Penn State and Michigan -- and will spring at least one upset.