As the ACC‘s spring practices get under way, we’ll be previewing the big storylines for each of the league’s 14 (15, in this case) teams. Check back on weekdays for what to look out for during your school’s spring practices and spring game.
Team: Maryland Terrapins
Spring Practice Start Date: March 2
Spring Game Date:
Maryland’s 2012 season was a complete and utter disaster — five quarterbacks (one of whom was a linebacker), a multitude of defensive injuries and a six-game losing streak to close out the year. And unfortunately, we’re not entirely out of the woods yet, either. While the offseason’s been abuzz around the Terps’ impending move to the Big Ten and their lawsuit to leave the ACC, things have been progressing equally as slow on the field, as their quarterbacks are still unavailable for contact drills.
Those passers — C.J. Brown (clubhouse favorite to (re-)win the starting job), Perry Hills and Caleb Rowe — have thrown on a limited basis this spring, so it’s unlikely we’ll gain any clarity at the position ’till July. So instead, the first week or so of spring practice has actually worked to muddle the situation a bit. Transfers Dustin Dailey and Ricardo Young are taking more reps and working with the first team; meaning they’re also the ones most likely to have the best rapport with returning star receiver Stefon Diggs (huge advantage). No matter who’s throwing the ball though, it won’t matter all that much without a running game. Despite the team’s limited quarterback situation in 2012, Terrapins halfbacks still only racked up 103 yards per game (115th in the country). Can they expect better this spring, and into the fall? Odds are on Brandon Ross becoming an every-down back, and without Wes Brown taking carries from him over the next month, it’s really his job to lose.
On the defensive side, things actually went much better than you’d think last season. The group’s biggest problem, actually, wasn’t themselves, but the offense’s inability to score enough points. Now, though, just five starters return on D, and there’s plenty of rebuilding to do. This new, inexperienced group will get significant time to position themselves as contributors this spring, and some have already begun to do so. In particular, sophomore safety Anthony Nixon and senior linebacker Marcus Whitfield have shown themselves capable of creating opportunities for themselves, and that type of leadership is sorely needed for a group that has so much still to learn. Expect more of last year’s aggressive 3-4 setup come this fall, so long as everyone gets a handle on it in the coming weeks.
Despite the disappointment of last year and the off-the-field realignment circus that’s been hovering over the program, Maryland’s spring still assures them of the type of hope they haven’t seen in months. Sure, there’s still the issue of lingering injuries, but after going through as many different quarterbacks as the Terps did last year, maybe the more players that can handle the play-calling duties, the better. As noted though, this spring can be considered a success so long as coaches can identify a primary ball-carrier (hopefully Ross) and at least get a sense of who leadership duties fall to on defense.