Maryland released their two-deep depth chart before the James Madison game, and looking at the roster we’ve put together some thoughts and comments on some of the moves:
1.) Damian Prince might take a little more time to meet expectations
Given some of the comments the coaching staff made about Damian Prince and Derwin Gray earlier in the preseason, the fact that Prince isn’t on the two-deep shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise. While plenty talented, Prince didn’t have the benefit of some extra time with the playbook and coaching staff like Gray, and it showed.
The starting five (Dunn, Altamirano, Conaboy, Zeller, and Doyle from left to right) was anticipated, but Prince isn’t even mentioned with the backups. Those backups include two walk-on players in LG Mike Minter and RG Maurice Shelton. It looks like Prince is going to be given a lot of time before the Terps decide he’s ready, and that’s the way it should be with young linemen. This is actually good news, because it suggests the staff is plenty confident with what they have and as such don’t need to throw in unprepared players.
2.) Levern Jacobs still has the third starting job despite his legal issues
Maryland’s showing a bit of self-restraint and not rushing to judgement with Levern Jacobs, which means the receivers are equally as talented as ever. Diggs and Long predictably take the first two spots, while Jacobs snags the third (backed up by Jacquille Veii). Marcus Leak will do a great job filling in for Deon Long, while Taivon Jacobs could definitely be a Diggs-lite.
This group looks so talented right now and rife with promise. Even West Virginia’s group of Taivon Austin and Stedman Bailey pales in comparison to what this one could do. How many corners do you need to have on the field to adequately cover this group? What if a linebacker finds himself on Levern Jacobs? These things should terrify opponents.
3.) Stefon Diggs is returning kicks, Will Likely returning punts
Earlier in the preseason I wrote about tempering expectations for Stefon Diggs (from a statistical standpoint) because perhaps the coaching staff would show concern about injuries and not allow him to return kicks. Well that’s out the window now, because Diggs and Jacobs will be wowing people left and right, adding an element of explosiveness to the return game.
Statistically speaking, there is a drop off in punt return yardage when you go from Stefon Diggs to Will Likely. You read that right: Will Likely is slightly better than Diggs at returning punts. Go ahead, let that sink in, then grab your handkerchief and wipe the drops of saliva from your lip.
4.) Wes Brown will predictably have to work for it.
This isn’t a major surprise. Brown didn’t do enough to separate himself from the pack and earn the backup or starting gig. That doesn’t mean he isn’t plenty talented or won’t see the field against James Madison (he is and he will), but wresting that job from Ross isn’t about to happen.
The running back position is deep, and Albert Reid looks solid, but if we’re nitpicking the offense this is still a less impressive group (in comparison to the receivers). I do think that the receiving corp should alleviate a lot of pressure on the ground game this year, and we’ll see returns on that.