Things change, but Terps try to keep up pace

August 19, 2011|By BRETT NIEVES | Staff Correspondent

COLLEGE PARK, Md. — After nine wins, including a 51-20 smothering of East Carolina in the Military Bowl last season, the University of Maryland looks to build on last year’s success and make coach Randy Edsall’s first year in College Park a memorable one.

The good news is quarterback Danny O’Brien, the 2010 ACC Rookie of the Year, returns to lead a Terrapins offense that averaged just over 32 points per game, which was ranked 29th nationally.

But the obstacles will be different for the Terps, who will have to get acclimated with a new head coach, a new offensive coordinator and a slew of new assistants. Edsall said the offense has progressed faster than the defense, but everyone will have to wait to see how that translates on the field.

“We’ve definitely changed some schemes around,” senior offensive lineman Andrew Gonnella said. “We have some new coaches and some new ideas, so we kind of have to wait and see what will happen this season. But it will be an exciting offense.”

Maryland hired Gary Crowton away from LSU to coordinate the offense and he has plenty to work ahead.

The Terps have a proven quarterback in O’Brien, a strong ground game with senior Davin Meggett and sophomore D.J. Adams and a stout offensive line.

Maryland lost its top playmaker, though, in Torrey Smith, who was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens, which makes the receiving corps deep but unproven.

It leaves Crowton looking to start inside and working his way out.

“To have a successful passing game, you need to be able to run the ball first. The philosophy I’ve tried to use is to have the an inside game that causes perimeter problems,” Crowton said. “If we have that type of game, it forces the defense to not just stack everyone inside. They cannot just play perimeter.”

Meggett had spent his career splitting time with Da’Rel Scott, who has since graduated. Now, much of the workload is on Meggett’s shoulders and he welcomes the challenge.

“I haven’t really changed much,” Meggett said. “I’ve been doing the same regiment that I was doing when I was younger — staying focused, locked in, eliminating a lot of the distractions over the summer and just getting ready to play good football.”

Meggett will have a stable of running backs for help, including Adams, who led the Terps in touchdowns last season.

A few others have made an impression on Edsall.

“Two running backs — Justus Pickett and Brandon Ross — they’ve done a very good job,” Edsall said. “They’re putting the push on to garner playing time this year. I’ve been very pleased with Jeremiah Wilson as well.”

Edsall knows good running backs. That position was a staple for Edsall during his tenure at Connecticut. He produced Donald Brown of the Indianapolis Colts, for one. Another productive back at UConn was Jordan Todman, who was drafted by the San Diego Chargers, and is an acquaintance of Adams.

“Me and Jordan, from UConn, we know each other,” said Adams. “He was able to give me the inside scoop on how Edsall likes his running backs. (Edsall) has a good history when it comes to my postion, so it’s always good to have a coach who likes running backs.”

Senior Quintin McCree is Maryland’s top returning receiver after catching 16 passes for 188 yards and a touchdown last season. Ronnie Tyler, another senior, has racked up 740 yards through three years with the Terps.

Others have impressed Edsall.

“Marcus Leak has really shown things as a true freshman,” Edsall said. “I’ve been impressed with Tony Logan and again I think Quintin (McCree) has done a good job.”

Kevin (Dorsey), Ronnie (Tyler) and Kerry Boykins ... I’ve been pleased with the receiver play.”

The talent should keep the Terps from missing a beat offensively this season. Expect a few early bumps in the road as the offense acclimates to the new system, but when it’s all said and done, Maryland should be just fine offensively.

It’ll be a new-look offense, from new jerseys to new formations, but Crowton, for one, is looking forward to the new Terps.

“Here, I have a chance to bring in a new offense with its own terminology and use all the components of that offense and call it what I want,” Crowton said. “The players have taken to it very well. They’re very open-minded.”

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