The Teams: Maryland Terrapins (0-0) vs William & Mary Tribe (0-0)
The Site: Byrd Stadium. College Park, Maryland.
The Time: 3 PM
TV, Radio, Internet: CSN, ESPN3 (online), WTEM (980 AM)/WJZ (105.7 FM)
Coaches: Randy Edsall (2-10 career in 2nd season) and Jimmye Laycock (213-151-2 in 33 seasons with W&M)
The History: The series is tied 2-2. Maryland won the last meeting in 2006, 26-14 at home.
It’s the start of a new season, and with that comes head coach Randy Edsall and the Terrapins chance at redemption after starting the new era off 2-10 last year. Well, it’s an even newer era now, with a brand-spanking-new offense headed by recruiting guru Mike Locksley, a new 3-4 defensive scheme manned by coordinator Brian Stewart, and an extremely young quarterback going up against a surprisingly decent William & Mary squad. There are lots of questions heading into this game with regards to how all these changes are going to pan out, but coach Edsall sounds optimistic that the Terrapins are going to prevail and start the season off on the right foot. Of course, they started last season off on the right foot, too, when they beat the Miami Hurricanes down in Florida donning some impressive new uniforms. And we all know how that went.
Despite the injury bug biting Maryland during the preseason, with notable injuries to quarterback CJ Brown and safety Kenny Tate, the Terrapins have confidence in their many true freshman players. Perry Hills, a former wrestler out of Central Catholic High School in Pittsburgh,will guide the Terps with some help from another true freshman in local standout Stefon Diggs. Together, they’re hoping that the youth movement proves to be a very good one for the Terrapins amidst concerns from fans and analysts abound.
Key Questions and Storylines
1.) How ’bout that offense?
Perhaps the story of the season is going to be how the Terrapins offense is going to handle losing their starting quarterback in the offseason, CJ Brown, to a torn ACL. Brown gets replaced by true freshman Perry Hills, who is going to go through a baptism by fire after having only two weeks to prepare as the starting QB of the offense. If Hills struggles and the offense goes stagnant and one-dimensional from the start, then it could be a bad omen for the rest of the season seeing as how William & Mary is not a 1980′s Miami team on defense. No one really knows how well he is going to perform, but coach Edsall is very high on this kid’s poise, which will hopefully signify that he can remain confident even if he struggles.
There are also serious questions about the running game, where true freshman Albert Reid has earned the number one spot over sophomore Justus Pickett, who was a bit of a disappointment last season. Reid stepped into the starting position after former starter (and redshirt freshman) Brandon Ross injured his hamstring earlier in the week. They will be joined in the backfield by yet another true freshman in Wes Brown, who is expected to get some carries as well in basically a running back by committee situation. All three are going to have to perform like veterans if the Terrapins expect to get anywhere this season.
2.) Can ya Diggs it?
Lame, I know, but true freshman and five star recruit Stefon Diggs is fully expected to step up right away and provide contributions all over the field. He was made the starting punt and kick returner right out of camp after impressing with his abilities to create something out of nothing. At the open scrimmage during the preseason, Diggs returned two kicks for touchdowns and looked like the best player on the field most of the time. He reminds you of former Florida Gator Percy Harvin in terms of his versatility, and he’s going to need to be every bit of that to give a spark to this injury depleted team.
He’ll be playing wide receiver on offense, too, and I’m sure Diggs is going to get plenty of action anywhere coach Edsall sees it fit. The reality is that even though Diggs is a true freshman, he is already the real star of this team, and Maryland hopes he shows it off tomorrow at Byrd Stadium.
3.) 3-4? Or 34 points per game again?
Even though Maryland is expected to have a much better defense this time around, the Terps gave up 34 points per game last season, which coincidentally is similar to the new defense they’re switching to. Defensive coordinator Brian Stewart actually had an effective defense at Houston, contrary to what you might think. His teams were good at getting to the quarterback and disrupting plays in the backfield, which led them to a 13-1 record in his final season there.
Stewart makes his money in the secondary, where his defenses tend to be very effective at turnovers. When he was an assistant coach for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2009, Asante Samuels and Sheldon Brown combined for 14 interceptions. The Terrapins are expecting him to provide that same ball-hawking mentality to this unit, which though injury plagued should be well-coached.
- William & Mary is getting paid a quarter-million dollars by Maryland to play this game.
- William & Mary quarterback Brent Caprio started their last four games last year, finishing with six touchdowns to only one interception.
- Maryland is 7-3 in their last 10 opening games, with losses coming to Notre Dame (2002), Northern Illinois (2003), and Cal (2009).
- The Terrapins installed a new turf field in the offseason, and it looks great. How it will affect performance remains to be seen (or will ever be seen).