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Five Questions for Maryland's Season

With Maryland starting practice on Monday, let’s take a look at some of the biggest questions heading into what promises to be a fascinating season in College Park. There are plenty more questions than these, but this is what jumped out at me. And I’ll likely update this after I return from an interview today.

1) Can QB Chris Turner Be Consistent?
Turner plays his best against the best, but it is critical that Turner be more reliable against teams that are not nationally ranked. The biggest issue is that, unlike last season, when most figured three quarterbacks would see action at some point, Turner is the only proven commodity. Sophomore Jamarr Robinson showed some potential in JV games, but this is a lot different, obviously. The other factor is that, because the team has so much youth, it is even more important for Turner to be stable under center because younger players may be wildly inconsistent.

2) Will the Offensive Line Be Adequate?
This is the biggest concern for Coach Ralph Friedgen heading into camp. Phil Costa should be a good fit at center and a solid overall leader for the unit. Bruce Campbell is a massive body who should do well in protecting Turner’s blind side. But the other three positions are major question marks. Last year’s line was experienced and wound up being mediocre. It’s anyone’s guess how this season’s unit will perform. The running game has a headliner in Da’Rel Scott. There are several wide receivers who could prove to be strong playmakers. But the line has to hold up for the offense to function.

3) Which Place Kicker Will Emerge?
There is uncertainty at place kicker, where Nick Wallace, Mike Barbour and freshman Nick Ferrara are all competing for the job. Maryland fans may miss Obi Egekeze -- who started poorly but finished fairly strong last season -- unless someone emerges as a reliable option.

4) Can Maryland Avoid an Unexpected Loss?
The Terrapins can’t avoid a Middle Tennessee-like meltdown this season, as there is not much breathing room on the schedule. The opener at California on Sept. 5 is extremely challenging considering the Golden Bears are a strong Pacific-10 contender and are looking for revenge from last season’s loss in College Park. The home game against Rutgers on Sept. 26 will be a significant test. Virginia and Duke are essentially must-wins. There is just little room for error this season. A safe bet is six or seven wins for Maryland, but the Terrapins need to collect four wins against Virginia, Duke, James Madison and Middle Tennessee.

5) Can a Strong Secondary Compensate for Issues on the Defensive Line?

Maryland promises to be strong and deep at safety. Terrell Skinner, Jamari McCollough (who had a team-high four interceptions last season), Kenny Tate and Antwine Perez should be impact performers. The Terrapins are solid at cornerback, barring injury, with Nolan Carroll and Anthony Wiseman. And Don Brown’s aggressive style should make good use of the secondary’s strengths. But the defensive line will be a lingering issue, particularly if Dion Armstrong does not emerge from academic limbo.

What do you think the Terrapins' biggest strengths and weaknesses will be this season? Let us know in the comments.

By Eric Prisbell  |  August 6, 2009; 12:15 PM ET
Categories:  Football  
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Next: Friedgen Talks Upcoming Season on 'WPL'


Our defense will be fine. Don Brown's actually has more than two plays in his defensive system. That loser Cosh would either run cover 2 or blitz a cornerback on 3rd down. That was it.

Don Brown will be the difference this year. It will be a joy to see the defense blitz on 1st down or 2nd, or run stunts, or ACTUALLY RUN MAN TO MAN.

Bend don't break is OVER. Cosh was only successful near the goal line when the field is shortened and everything is crowded. That was it. By default, the defense always has the advantage.


Posted by: | August 6, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

I am very excited for this year. Our defense will always be stout, and is usually the strength of the team almost in every seasons. The run game always seems to function under Friedgen, with whomever he places into the HB spot. My concern this week is the WR corp. Is there enough talent and speed to compete on the top tier of the ACC?

Posted by: sanjuan1227 | August 6, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

What is sanjuan smoking?
The concern is the O line. THe receiving corp is very good; it has speed, experience, and pretty good hands.
Last year's line with all the seniors couldn't protect the QB and had off games in run blocking.

Posted by: ntopf1616 | August 6, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

31 underperforming seniors are gone. There's better talent top to bottom on the 2009 roster as well as a better attitude according to the Fridge. The D will be better because the scheme/coaching is better now. The WR's need to build on the bowl game. Every game on the schedule is winnable if they consistently play up to their God given abilties and hustle.

Posted by: Realness1 | August 6, 2009 5:09 PM | Report abuse

Last season the Terps got a new offensive coordinator, who's now in line for the head job. This season they have a new defensive coordinator. Franklin didn't wow me with the offense last year so I see why they guaranteed him the head job. Let's see what the new defensive coach brings (Cosh was a great selection, wasn't he?). Teams win and lose on the lines and both lines are question marks. The media has them picked 5 out of 6 in their division. Hard not to be optimistic. Hard not to believe Ralph will work his magic on another inconsistent season by losing to a nobody and beating someone they shouldn't. Too bad Jordan Steffy isn't still there to win the job again, eh coaches Ralph and James?

Posted by: terpfan3 | August 6, 2009 7:04 PM | Report abuse

the big question mark is the o line. If pete white can step in and play to his potential next to Bruce they should be able to open gaping holes for scott.We could end up with quite a o line if white steps up. If they give turner time i feel our wide receivers will make some big plays. i am not worried about the D at all.The corners can jam and blitz. I know we will get beat some times because of the aggressive d however that is sure a lot better then cosh BS


Posted by: carolina1 | August 6, 2009 8:38 PM | Report abuse

first off good questions about the season.question 1 is fully dependent on question 2, if the oline jells early and can protect consistently for the run game. the entire offensive opens up with an array of wr's to throw to it can get really scary for ACC defenses.if this happens, winning 8-10 games is realistic.Q3 the new o line group is more athletic,hungrier than last years line IMO.I dont see the line taking any games off this season, i place blame on the 08 oline for the clunkers last season (see FSU,UVA and MTSU last season)but who saw losses to Middle Tenn. or UVA coming last season! before u can protect this house u must protect that QB!!!!!Q4 the kicking game is the biggest concern overall. we have won/lost many close games recently seasons so this frosh k is going to have to step up and be solid.Q5 I think the new attacking D will get off the field and be fresh in late stages of games unlike bend but dont win D of the recent past.There is more talent on the d-line albeit unproven. i see 8-10 wins, which would prime the terps for a good run for the next 2-3 seasons with so much youth on the squad.
PS. since Penn State routinely takes the best recruits from the dmv what are the thoughts out there about resuming the series with Penn State?just curious.

Posted by: toddwhite2004 | August 6, 2009 9:25 PM | Report abuse

Welcome back Prisbell. Great questions! Finally some solid information being posted.

One thing I am going to say because I hope Fridge is thinking this and it sounds like he is aftering seeing Terrapins Rising so far. He is finally going to play the best players no matter what their experience is. I think if he does that, there will be some growing pains and we might lose some close games, but we'll be better off at the end of the season where we have faltered.

Also, I think Fridge finally has some stability with his coaching staff even though there is a new D-Coordinator with Don Brown. There seems to be more cohession which was missing and I would say was a result of Cosh. No other defensive coaches followed him to K-State. It would be interesting to get a home and home started with them.

Posted by: DiehardTerp | August 6, 2009 11:06 PM | Report abuse

You left out one very important question: Will Dion Armstrong qualify academically to play? If not, the D-Line takes a huge hit and you are looking at a DT rotation at his position with no experience. Should Travis Ivey get hurt, they would be in a world of trouble. You also got to consider the youth at DE, although the talent potential is there.

Posted by: virtueandvice | August 7, 2009 9:05 AM | Report abuse

opps.........missed that last line. My fault!

Posted by: virtueandvice | August 7, 2009 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Still waiting on your ground breaking 'expose' on the AAU/shoe deal connection, Prisbell...

Posted by: Mariolucasforthree | August 8, 2009 6:57 PM | Report abuse

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