Coach: Randy Edsall (20-30, entering fifth season; 94-100)
2014 record: 7-6, 4-4 in Big Ten Conference; third in East Division
Look back: Maryland opened its first season in the Big Ten by winning four of its first five games, including a 3-1 record against nonconference opponents. The only blemish was a hard-fought three-point loss to West Virginia on Sept. 13. The Terrapins started league play with an emphatic 37-15 win over Indiana, but the team went on to lose Big Ten powers Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Michigan State by double-digit deficits.
Offensive starters returning: 6
Offensive starters lost: 5
Defensive starters returning: 4
Defensive starters lost: 7
Key losses: QB C.J. Brown, WR Stefon Diggs, WR Deon Long, OF Silvano Altamirano, OF Sal Conaboy, LB Cole Farrand, LB LA Goree, DL Keith Bowers, DB Jeremiah Johnson, DL Andre Monroe, P Nathan Renfro
Top returnees: RB Brandon Ross, OL Ryan Doyle, OL Michael Dunn, OL Andrew Zeller, WR Marcus Leak, DB Sean Davis, DB William Likely, DL Yannick Ngakoue, DB Anthony Nixon
Strengths: Stefon Diggs was one of the program’s biggest offensive threats, leading the team with 1,298 all-purpose yards as a receiver and kick returner. His departure means senior Marcus Leak (297 yards/3 TDs) and Levern Jacobs will play a bigger role in 2015.
Senior guards Andrew Zeller and Ryan Doyle, who combine for 46 career starts, anchor an offensive line that will lean on freshman help in 2015. Some of that could come from highly recruited tackle Derwain Gray, who redshirted while recovering from a shoulder injury in 2014.
The secondary returns three starters from last season. The group includes cornerback William Likely, who recorded six interceptions in 2014.
Kicker Brad Craddock is back after winning the Lou Groza Award last season after hitting 18-of-19 field goals for the Terps.
Weaknesses: Oft-injured quarterback Caleb Rowe returns from a season-ending ACL injury that forced him to miss the second-half of last season and most of spring practice. In three seasons, Rowe has never completed more than 65 passes while failing to crack the 1,000 yard plateau. Shane Cockerille and Perry Hills took the snaps this spring, but Daxx Garman — a graduate transfer from Oklahoma State — could find his way to the top quarterback job.
Maryland ranked near the bottom of the Big Ten in rushing offense, averaging less than 122 yards per game on the ground. Quarterback C.J. Brown led the team with 539 yards and eight touchdowns while running backs Brandon Ross and Wes Brown combined for 775 yards and 10 touchdowns.
New defensive coordinator Keith Dudzinski must deal with the departure of seven starters from last season’s defense, including two of the team’s top tacklers in linebackers Cole Farrand and LA Goree. In making the switch to a 4-3 scheme, Dudzinski hopes the unit can find a strong pass rusher in 2015. The Terrapins recorded 32 quarterback sacks in 2014, but the team’s leading rusher — Andre Monroe (10.5 sacks) — is gone.
Outlook: After a rough start — six total wins in two seasons — the Maryla6nd program seems to have found its stride under Randy Edsall. The Terrapins are coming off back-to-back seven-win seasons including last season — their first in the Big Ten. While loaded with talent at some positions, its unclear whether the team will have much success at quarterback or on the defensive side of the ball. Tack on a difficult Big Ten schedule and it seems a bowl-eligible season will be just out of reach.
Sept. 5 Richmond
Sept. 12 Bowling Green
Sept. 19 USF
Sept. 26 at West Virginia
Oct. 3 Michigan
Oct. 10 at Ohio State
Oct. 24 Penn State
Oct. 31 at Iowa
Nov. 7 Wisconsin
Nov. 14 at Michigan State
Nov. 21 Indiana
Nov. 28 at Rutgers
College Football / College Basketball Handicapper. 2011 won 74%, 2012 won 72% 2015 SPECIAL. CALL, 877.WIN.ATS9 EMAIL,V@VincentRizzoSports.com