By Paxton Delany
Maryland’s 2011 season was not ideal to say the least. The team went 2-10 overall and 1-7 in the ACC in coach Randy Edsall’s first season with the Terps with several close losses in ACC play. Maryland started the season winning its first game against Miami 32-24, but then lost to rival West Virginia 31-37. In ACC competition, Georgia Tech (16-21), Clemson (45-56), Florida State (17-41), Boston College (17-28), UVa (13-31), Wake Forest (10-31), and NC State (41-56) all handed losses to the Terrapins. Probably not the way Coach Edsall saw his first season playing out.
The Terps are hoping to play better football this 2012 season. Coach Edsall visited with the media during the first week in March saying “I think everyone has a bad taste in their mouth in terms of what took place last year. We’re going to focus and concentrate on 2012 and work to improve each and every day and know we have to let our actions speak louder than our words. Everyone is looking forward to get back out on the field so we can prepare ourselves and get ready for the season.”
Part of getting ready for the season included bring in some new coaches. Offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Mike Locksley comes to the Terps with 20 years of college coaching under his belt, most recently from New Mexico. Newbie coach Brian Stewart will be defensive coordinator/defensive backs coach. Stewart is breaking away from the Houston Cougars. Coach Greg Gattuso, previously the defensive line coach, has been promoted to assistant head coach under Edsall. In addition Terp player Pete Desouza, who never fully recovered from an auto accident injury, has been promoted to student assistant coach.
On March 10, the Terps stepped out onto the field for their first spring workout. Afterward Coach Edsall commented: “I liked that we were back out here on the field and I liked that we got after it, I liked seeing the install on offense and defense and seeing the guys come out here, working together, with good attitudes. There was a lot of energy.” With that the spring work was underway for Maryland, who is returning 15 starters. Returning players include junior quarterback/running back C.J. Brown as well as senior wide receivers Kevin Dorsey and Quintin McCree, who are all top players for the Terps. Senior key players returning for their last season for the Terps include tight end Matt Furstenburg, linebacker Demetrius Hartsfield and defensive linemen Joe Vellano. Issac Goins, a defensive back from Contra Costa College, has signed to play for the Terps and wide receiver Stefon Diggs was added to the incoming recruiting class. Diggs is a highly ranked athlete by ESPN, Scout and Rivals. Running back Wes Brown and offensive lineman Mike Madaras will join the Terps this fall as well. In addition Zach Dancel, a New Mexico transfer, will join the line up.
The Terps will add a QB in 2013. Ricardo Young, who signed with Virginia Tech then transferred to New Mexico, will join the Terps from Iowa Western Community College. Edsall admitted to recruiting Young when he was coaching at UConn and is excited about Young joining the team. Also vastly anticipated as a newcomer is Baltimore native Malik Jones, who will join the Terps from local Paul L. Dunbar High School, a rare occasion for the program.
The Terps are without former quarterback Danny O’Brien, who transferred. Also not returning is key player David Meggett, who will play for the Houston Texans in the NFL this year. Desmond Kearse, a redshirt freshman linebacker, will not return to the Terps lineup due to academic issues.
On April 21, the Terps played each other Red vs. White in the annual spring scrimmage at College Park. Maryland played with a modified scoring system for offense vs. defense where the D earned points for such things like tackles, sacks or turnovers. This year the defense (red) defeated the offense 67-53. Offensively, Brandon Ross had the first touchdown on the 1-yard play. Backup quarterback Ricky Schultz hit freshmen Nigel King for the second touchdown. Michael Tart was able to put a 48-yard field goal through the posts during the second quarter. Junior quarterback C.J. Brown went 17-of-33 passing for 199 yards. Behind him was Schultz with 13-of-19 passing for 146 yards. Justus Pickett went for 70 yards on 18 carries for the offense, while Isaiah Ross went 46 yards on 14 carries. Demetrius Hartsfield registered 12 tackles for the defense. L.A. Goree (8 tackles, 2 sacks) as well as Nate Clarke and Justin Anderson (2 sacks each) chipped in on D too. Junior defensive players Dexter McDougle and Bradley Johnson had 7 tackles each. Coach Edsall commented positively: “Overall I thought we’ve had a really good spring. I thought they guys have done a really good job since January, getting started doing all the things we need to do to be better come August.”
With the defense winning the spring game, could credit be given to new Coach Stewart’s switch from a 4-3 front to a 3-4 front? That remains to be seen. McDougle attributed the success to the players’ attitude: “We just want to be aggressive this year, defense wins championships, so that’s what we want to do.”
Athlon Sports has predicted Maryland to do better this season, but not by much. Maryland opens its season on Sept. 1 against William & Mary. The Terps will face Edsall’s former team, the Connecticut Huskies, on Sept. 15. In the ACC, Maryland plays Wake (Oct. 6), UVa (Oct. 13), NC State (Oct. 20), Boston College (Oct. 27), Georgia Tech (Nov. 3), Clemson (Nov. 10), Florida State (Nov. 17), and North Carolina (Nov 24). Wake Forest, NCSU, GT, and FSU will all get a look at the new field in Maryland. The program is installing a new turf field.