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.
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