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Blowout Bowl Loss Caps Disappointing End to Terps’ Season

Despite their matching 7-5 records, the Stanford Cardinal was the heaviest favorite of any team participating in a bowl game this year. The oddsmakers and talking heads were not wrong; the Maryland Terrapins were dominated in the first annual Foster Farms Bowl Tuesday night. The gusts of wind swirling about Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara blew the football from the tee twice before Maryland kicker Brad Craddock could strike it to begin the game. The 45 degree temperature at kickoff was uncharacteristically chilly for Western California this time of year. The Terps were also cold, but this unfortunately was not so uncharacteristic. Stanford set the tone for the night on the opening possession by driving 75 yards in 12 plays and scoring their first of six touchdowns in the game. The Maryland defense struggled to get pressure on Kevin Hogan all night, and the Stanford quarterback accounted for 240 yards of total offense and two passing touchdowns. Cardinal running back Remound Wright rushed eight times for 49 yards and three scores, while Christian McCaffrey made the Terrapins look silly on every one of his seven carries.

With the loss, Randy Edsall is 0-2 in bowl games since becoming Maryland’s head coach in 2011, and has missed the postseason altogether twice. The 7-5 record in 2014 is nothing to scoff at, especially taking into account it being Maryland’s first season as members of the Big Ten, but as a Maryland alum and fan I still feel unsatisfied. The inaugural Big Ten season is officially in the books, however, and the Terps will look to build upon a winning record and a bowl appearance next season. Here are a few observations and takeaways from the 2014 season:

The Terps need a traditional pocket quarterback in 2015.

Sixth-year senior C.J. Brown played in his final game as a Terrapin, finishing with 205 passing yards, one interception, and one rushing touchdown. His faults do not need to be documented at length here, as his decision making and accuracy issues were a topic of discussion all season long. While Brown ended his Terrapin career as Maryland’s all-time leader in total touchdowns (responsible for 58 total), he will likely be remembered for his legs more than his arm, and his interceptions and overthrows more than his touchdown passes. Don’t get me wrong, Brown was no Boomer Esiason, but I feel some of the criticism he encountered in 2014 could have been diverted elsewhere, such as poor individual play-calls, inexplicably awful game planning, and a season-long lack of any semblance of a running game (outside of Brown himself). That said, it is time for Maryland to make the move back to a more traditional, pocket quarterback in 2015. Whether or not Stefon Diggs stays or enters the NFL Draft, Maryland will still have substantial weapons at wide receiver next season including Juwann Winfree, Daniel Adams, and both Jacobs brothers. The offense should focus on getting the ball into the hands of these playmakers, and if Diggs returns that’s obviously just a (huge) bonus. Caleb Rowe will fill the role as starter, and hopefully his previous experience under center has groomed him well to take the reins for the first time in his career as the unquestioned starter.

William Likely and Andre Monroe are studs.

Likely: The sophomore cornerback led the Big Ten in interceptions in 2014 and may very well be an NFL star in the making. He was included as part of ESPN.com’s All-Big Ten team, and made his presence felt yet again against Stanford. It was as a member of special teams, however, as Likely took a Stanford kickoff 100 yards for Maryland’s second touchdown of the game. The Terrapin secondary was shredded more than once this season, but Likely was a significant factor in many of the Terps’ seven wins as both a playmaking defender and a dangerous return man on special teams.

CB William Likely set a school record with 228 return yards against Michigan State. Photo courtesy Mitchell Layton, Getty Images.
CB William Likely set a single-game school record with 228 kick return yards against Michigan State. Photo courtesy Mitchell Layton, Getty Images.

Monroe: DT Andre Monroe entered the game against Stanford tied for the all-time lead in career sacks as a Terp. After taking down Cardinal QB Kevin Hogan in the first quarter, Monroe became the sole record holder for career sacks with 25. Monroe had 10.5 sacks in 2014, which was the eighth-most in a single season for a Terp in school history.

Maryland needs to find a go-to running back.

How Maryland got to seven wins without ever having established a formidable running game is a feat beyond explanation. Only once all season did a Terrapin running back eclipse the usually not-so-elusive 100-yard plateau in a single game. Terps fans can complain about inefficient quarterback play, or injuries plaguing the team yet again this season, or dropped passes, or a defense that as a unit fell far short of preseason expectations. I wouldn’t disagree with any of the above, but I’d argue the single most detrimental aspect of the football program in 2014 was the mind-boggling lack of a rushing attack. The lack of production at the position is directly linked to the season-long utilization of a two- or even three-running back by committee system. Brandon Ross and Wes Brown split carries for the majority of the season, with Jacquille Veii and Albert Reid (earlier in the season) mixing in as well. Edsall forced the idea all season, and there isn’t a single example of it having paid off. Maryland needs to settle on a starting running back next year that can carry the load for the Terps.

The Terps will never be competitive against elite programs under Randy Edsall.

The exceptions to this rule of course were the Terps’ wins at Penn State and at Michigan. Both were great wins for Maryland, but those teams had down years in 2014. This may be too broad of a generalization, but it seems before Edsall arrived at Maryland the Terps at least stood a chance of pulling off an upset over a top-10 or -15 program. In 2004 Maryland took down #5 Florida State. Although 2007 was an overall disappointing season, the Terps managed to defeat #10 Rutgers and #8 Boston College. In Ralph Friedgen’s last four years as Maryland’s head coach (2007-10), the Terps went 7-6 against ranked opponents. Under Edsall, Maryland has not managed to win a single game against a ranked opponent and is 0-10 (2011-14). This season the Terps were destroyed by Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Michigan State. We can add Stanford to the list.

Despite Five Wins, Inconsistencies Continue to Plague Terps

The Maryland Terrapins took down their second Big Ten opponent of the season by defeating the Iowa Hawkeyes this past Saturday, and the win comes as some small form of redemption after getting blown out at home by Ohio State on October 4. The offense as a whole played well aside from continuing inconsistency at the quarterback position. C.J. Brown’s struggles in the passing game continued, which included throwing an interception directly to an Iowa defender on the very first play of the game. The interception set the Hawkeyes up in the red zone which led to Iowa’s first touchdown. Aside from playing too soft too early and allowing Iowa back in the game in the fourth quarter, the Maryland defense performed well, getting big stops when needed and forcing three Iowa turnovers.
Both offense and defense have succeeded at times and significantly underachieved at others so far this season. As far as the offense goes, C.J. Brown’s season-long struggles are well known at this point. His running capabilities stabilize his status as the team’s starting quarterback but still don’t quite cancel out the inaccuracy and some frankly boneheaded mistakes throwing the football. The running backs have been inconsistent as well, which is directly related to their puzzlingly inconsistent usage. The defense has made dazzling individual plays, led by cornerback Will Likely’s Big Ten-leading four interceptions, two of which have been returned for touchdowns including one against Iowa. Cole Farrand has anchored the defense from the linebacker position and continues to rack up tackles. Despite stellar individual performances, the defense has shown serious vulnerability in both pass coverage and run defense at times, and has allowed opposing offenses to gain an average of 516 yards per game over the last five games.
From quarterback controversy (which has quieted since news broke of Caleb Rowe’s ACL tear) to the defensive holes, Maryland’s inconsistency on both sides of the ball has been well documented to this point and will likely continue throughout the season. What is becoming more apparent by the week, however, is that Maryland’s special teams are no exception. Specifically, the disparity in efficiency between Maryland’s kicker and punter is growing by the week.

The Good

Place kicker Brad Craddock has arguably evolved into the best kicker in the entire country, having not yet missed on any of his 12 field goal attempts so far in 2014. Only one kicker in FBS Division I-A is currently ranked above Craddock, that being Roberto Aguayo of Florida State who is 14-for-14 on the season. Craddock is now 8-for-8 on field goal attempts of 40 yards or more, including one knocked through from a career-long 57 yards. If not for a 58-yarder made by Indiana’s Griffin Oakes (against Maryland, ironically), Craddock’s 57-yard make would be the longest in college football this year. The Aussie is also a perfect 30-for-30 on extra point attempts, and has accounted for nearly one-third of Maryland’s offensive production this season (66 points out of 211 total offensive points scored).

Maryland's Brad Craddock has kicked his way into the discussion of the best collegiate kicker for 2014. Photo courtesy washingtonpost.com.
Maryland’s Brad Craddock has kicked his way into the discussion of the best collegiate kicker for 2014. Photo courtesy washingtonpost.com.

Craddock is truly an elite kicker, and seems to be NFL-ready halfway through his junior year. When asked about Craddock’s success this season in the post-game press conference after the win against Iowa, head coach Randy Edsall choked up discussing how the kicker has adjusted to being a collegiate athlete in the United States. His voice quivered as he explained why Craddock’s fellow countrymen in Australia should be proud, mentioning the kicker’s athletic ability as well as his morality, upbringing, and leadership. Craddock has truly come a long way from hitting only 10 of his 16 attempts his freshman season with the Terps.

The Not So Good

Unfortunately, there is another end of the spectrum, and Maryland punter Nathan Renfro slides towards it more and more with each passing week. Out of 128 qualifying punters this season in all of FBS Division I-A college football, Renfro currently ranks 88th in average yards per punt. More alarming are the junior’s struggles in recent weeks, averaging below 40 yards per punt in 19 punts over three games. Renfro had his worst game of the season against the Hawkeyes, punting nine times for an average of just 37.78 yards per punt. His woeful day consisted of short punts when long ones were needed and long punts when short ones were called for. One punt traveled a mere 19 yards. On another occasion the Terps were trying to pin the Iowa offense deep in their own territory late in the game. Renfro crushed a punt 30 yards too far. The ball rocked off the brick of the Gossett Team House, which sits about 15 yards behind the east end zone, on the fly. Granted, on this particular play the snap was low and Renfro had to adjust… but he didn’t.

A growing concern for the Terps is the lack of efficiency punting the ball away. Photo courtesy collegefootball.ap.org.
A growing concern for the Terps is the lack of efficiency punting the ball away. Photo courtesy collegefootball.ap.org.

Adding to the concerns is the fact that statistically Renfro’s ability seems to have capped out at these numbers; the Terrapin punter averaged virtually the exact same yardage per punt in 2013 (40.84 in 2013; 40.88 in 2014). Only four FBS I-A punters have at least as many punts this season as Renfro (43) and have a lower yards per punt average. The Terps have no other viable options at the position, so Renfro’s job appears to be safe despite his struggles.
Even with ongoing issues on both offense and defense and the increasing concerns with the punting unit, the Terps boast a 2-1 conference record and are 5-2 overall. The two conference wins have been quite impressive, particularly the win Saturday over the Hawkeyes. The Terps found themselves in an early 14-0 hole, but rallied to outscore Iowa 38-7 before the Hawkeyes tacked on a quick 10 points in the last five minutes of the game. Accordingly, the 38-31 final score made the game seem closer than it actually was. Maryland continued to put up points despite a third quarter injury to C.J. Brown that forced third-string quarterback Perry Hills into the game. Hills was certainly rusty, as he hadn’t seen live action in over two years, but the offense didn’t fall apart.

Looking Ahead to Wisconsin

The issue that needs to be immediately addressed in anticipation of Saturday’s matchup with Wisconsin is the run defense. Iowa running back Mark Weisman finished with 78 yards on just 10 carries and two rushing touchdowns against Maryland. The Terps defense will have their hands full this Saturday trying to contain Badger running back Melvin Gordon, who is currently second in the nation in total rushing yards behind only Indiana’s Tevin Coleman. Gordon also has 13 rushing touchdowns, two more than Coleman. Maryland was somewhat able to contain Coleman (relatively speaking) in their September 27 meeting with the Hoosiers, and will need a similar defensive game plan against Wisconsin.
A win at Wisconsin this Saturday could potentially propel the Terps into the top-25 discussion for the first time in head coach Randy Edsall’s tenure.

Ugly Win Raises Serious Concerns for Terps Offense

Maryland faced the Bulls of South Florida Saturday and left Tampa with a win as most expected. What wasn’t expected were the offensive struggles which kept the game much closer than it should have been and nearly cost the Terps the win. Maryland turned the ball over twice before the halfway point of the first quarter. Luckily for Terps fans, CBS Sports Network hadn’t yet switched broadcasts from the previous college football game. I found myself having no choice but to watch Army wrap up a victory over Buffalo and resorted to refreshing the live game updates on my phone. Before six minutes had ticked off the game clock, USF’s starting quarterback Mike White had left after injuring his arm on the very first play and the Terps had turned the ball over on each of their first two possessions. I hadn’t missed much.
Maryland went on to commit almost as many turnovers as they allowed points in their season opener against James Madison, finishing the game with a total of six.
On their opening drive, Maryland moved the ball effectively to midfield before the Terps’ C.J. Brown threw the first of his two interceptions, underthrowing receiver Stefon Diggs on a pass downfield with two defenders in the area. Running back Brandon Ross coughed the ball up on Maryland’s next possession for the team’s second turnover.
There were few bright spots for the Terps’ offense on Saturday, but wide receiver Marcus Leak certainly topped the short list. After Leak beautifully corralled a 10-yard TD pass in the back of the end zone for Maryland’s first score, the Terps committed their third turnover of the quarter on their next possession when C.J. Brown lost a fumble which was returned for a USF touchdown. Brown responded by hooking up again with Leak for a 44-yard touchdown the following possession.  Despite the three turnovers, it appeared as though Maryland was slowly righting the ship. It seemed the offense had found a rhythm and would continue to score with relative ease on a team that finished 2013 with just two wins, had to rally against an FCS opponent two weeks ago to narrowly pull out a victory, and which had lost their starting quarterback on the first play of the game. But USF backup quarterback Steven Bench led the Bulls offense downfield, ending in a 15-yard touchdown run by Bench capping off the 76-yard drive to tie the game at 14. Neither team would score another offensive touchdown for the remainder of the game.

WR Marcus Leak was one of very few bright spots for the Maryland offense on Saturday. Photo courtesy csnbaltimore.com.
WR Marcus Leak was one of very few bright spots for the Maryland offense on Saturday. Photo courtesy csnbaltimore.com.

In the second quarter the Terrapin offense hit a wall, punting twice and committing their fourth turnover of the half (Ross’s second fumble) while gaining a mere 42 total yards in the entire quarter. USF kicked a field goal to end the half and the Terps were officially on upset alert. Another Terps drive came to an end in the third quarter with C.J. Brown’s second interception on a ball poorly thrown behind Diggs that the receiver couldn’t handle. If the Terps were going to win this game, they were going to need a big play from either their special teams or defense.
After punting on their opening drive of the fourth quarter, Maryland found themselves with their backs against the wall. A three-and-out by USF brought the punt team on the field. In the blink of an eye the Terps were suddenly up by four points after a blocked punt and a recovery in the end zone for a touchdown. The football gods may or may not have been wearing red and black Saturday afternoon, but at least Avery Thompson was, who recovered the football for the score. An Albert Reid fumble resulted in Maryland’s sixth turnover, but the defense held USF scoreless and Brad Craddock kicked a 23-yard field goal securing the win.
Maryland’s defense played exceptionally, surrendering only 10 points to the South Florida offense. After Bulls running back Marlon Mack tied a USF school record with 275 rushing yards and four touchdowns in his first game, the Terrapin defense held the true freshman to just 73 yards on 22 carries.
A win is a win, but watching the Maryland offense (or lack thereof) was more than disheartening after they hung 52 points on James Madison. Serious uncertainties and questions have been raised heading into Maryland’s next game against West Virginia. Coach Randy Edsall commented after the game that pulling C.J. Brown was never a consideration, but what if Brown continues to commit turnovers and miss receivers downfield? The next two quarterbacks in line, Caleb Rowe and Perry Hills, both have previous experience playing quarterback for the Terps which may further shorten an already shortened leash. Will Wes Brown see more snaps than Brandon Ross going forward? He was effective against James Madison and led the team with 61 rushing yards on 13 carries against USF, not to mention he was the only Terrapin running back with more than one carry who didn’t commit a turnover.
But like I said, a win is a win. And hey, at least the Terps didn’t lose anyone to a season-ending injury this week.

Terps Win Big, but No Caveats Please

As expected, the Maryland Terrapins took down the Dukes of James Madison last Saturday before a crowd of 45,080 at Byrd Stadium in College Park. While the Terps were favored by more than three touchdowns before Saturday’s contest, I believe the 52-7 pounding administered by the newcomers to the Big Ten was more than just a large margin of victory over an FCS opponent that finished 6-6 in the Colonial Athletic Association in 2013. This isn’t the same Maryland team that couldn’t pull away from Towson University until the second half in 2011. It’s not the same team that barely squeaked out a 7-6 win against William & Mary in 2012. And while the Terps lost only a handful of both offensive and defensive starters from 2013, this also isn’t the same team that suffered a 31-20 loss to Marshall in the Military Bowl last season. With an experienced quarterback, a sharp running game, a receiving corps that boasts nationally-recognized talent, and a defense that should rank towards the top of the Big Ten, the Terps should not be overlooked by any team they face this season. They proved this last weekend despite facing a less talented James Madison team.
Almost all of the postgame recaps I’ve come across so far applaud the Terps for a stellar offensive and defensive performance against the Dukes, but are sure not to dismiss the fact that James Madison is an FCS team and that the Terps will face much stiffer competition once Big Ten play begins. Maryland fans know the road that lies ahead. And even though the Terps were favored by 22.5 points heading into Saturday’s game, I came across more than a few pregame previews that predicted the game might not be a cakewalk for Maryland as the spread would indicate. From an historical perspective, Maryland was victorious but didn’t demolish the Dukes in their two previous meetings, winning 38-35 in 2009 and 23-15 in 1998.
The Terps scored their first of seven touchdowns three minutes and 17 seconds into the game. Maryland will not hang 52 points on any Big Ten opponent nor is it likely they will they hold one to just seven points. But the takeaways from Saturday’s blowout win are that the offense can move the ball effectively and score points in bunches, and the defense can play tight coverage on the outside while containing a talented quarterback inside. The caveats attempting to explain the 45-point victory by pointing out the weaknesses of the opponent are not necessary. The victory served more in unveiling the strengths of the 2014 Terrapins football team.
While Maryland quarterback C.J. Brown struggled to get on the same page with his receivers for much of the game (aside from a 41-yard touchdown bomb to Deon Long), he showed that when the arm isn’t quite there the legs are. The sixth-year grad student finished the game with three rushing touchdowns, the last of which came on a fourth-and-goal from the 2 and included broken tackles and a lunge into the end zone. After missing several receivers running deep routes a fan behind me said jokingly, “He’s too old for college!” But Brown’s arm will look better in the coming weeks and his experience will prove vital to the Terrapins offense against the strong defenses of the Big Ten.
Stefon Diggs (five receptions for 53 yards) and Deon Long (two receptions for 48 yards and a touchdown) led the way receiving, but the story of the offense was the running game. Brandon Ross looked great, making sharp cuts and carrying 16 times for 86 yards and a score. The return of Wes Brown was also a welcome sight, as he saw significant time and picked up another 81 yards on 13 carries. Albert Reid added 23 yards and a touchdown and Kenneth Goins rushed three times for 31 yards. Including C.J. Brown’s running ability, the Terps’ versatile rushing attack will stabilize the offense and open up the passing game in 2014.
The Terrapin defense was also nothing short of superb against James Madison. The shutout was lost when backup quarterback Caleb Rowe threw an interception in garbage time that led to JMU’s only score of the day. The Terps recorded two interceptions, one by junior defensive back Anthony Nixon after a deflected pass and the other on a remarkably athletic play by senior defensive back Jeremiah Johnson on a jump ball in the end zone at the end of the first half. Dukes QB Vad Lee was held to 141 passing yards and 27 yards rushing. Lee struggled with accuracy in the ACC last year when he was with Georgia Tech, but the Terrapins’ tight coverage and defensive schemes made certain the quarterback didn’t find any success through the air.

Photo courtesy washingtonpost.com.
The Terps’ defense held JMU QB Vad Lee to 141 yards passing and 27 yards rushing. Photo courtesy washingtonpost.com.

Unfortunately, the injury bug which has plagued the Terps over the past several seasons claimed another victim Saturday. Wide receiver Taivon Jacobs left the game early with a knee injury, and the news was released yesterday that the five-star recruit will miss the entire 2014 season. Jacobs was sure to have a substantial role in the offense this season, especially after the announcement last week that his older brother Levern had been suspended for the year. The Terps still have depth and talent at receiver, but losing Taivon for the season is certainly a significant blow.
If there was a negative to take away from the game (other than losing Taivon Jacobs for the year), it was the lack of success passing the football. Starting quarterback C.J. Brown completed only 11 passes for a total of 111 yards. Aside from the 41-yard TD pass to Deon Long, Brown and his receivers were on different pages much of Saturday. Brown both underthrew and overthrew receivers downfield, and called his own performance after the game “unacceptable.” Backup quarterback Caleb Rowe entered the game with 6:55 remaining in the third quarter and found even less success through the air. At that point in the game the Terps were primarily concerned with running the clock out as victory was well in hand, but Rowe looked indecisive and skittish after the snap. Maryland’s quarterbacks will have a great opportunity to tune up the passing game against the University of South Florida, as the Bulls’ defense allowed Western Carolina QB Troy Mitchell to throw for two touchdowns and accumulate 374 yards on 46/66 passing in their season-opener against the Catamounts (FCS).
Overall, the Terrapins had a near flawless beginning to their 2014 season. Terps fans should view the blowout victory over the Dukes of James Madison as sign of good things to come and avoid looking at the final score skeptically. Of course Maryland will not score 52 points when they travel to Ann Arbor, nor will they hold the Buckeyes or Spartans to seven points when those teams visit Byrd Stadium. But there is more to be said for the way the Terrapins defeated JMU this past Saturday than that they simply beat a team they were expected to beat.

Terps $4 Ticket Cheapest of all FBS Week One Games

If you have $4 and no plans on August 30, why not check out a Terrapins football game? Yes, you read correctly. The price of a ticket for Maryland’s first contest of 2014 is less than what you probably spent on your morning latte from Starbucks. Available through StubHub, the $4 tickets for the game against James Madison University are the cheapest of any week one college football game that has at least one FBS team playing. According to StubHub, a $4 ticket will get you a seat in one of the “Upper Sideline” sections.

Courtesy StubHub
The upper sideline sections are colored pink. Courtesy StubHub.com

The 3:30 pm kickoff will be the official start of Maryland’s inaugural Big10 season, although they do not face their first Big10 opponent until the team travels to Indiana to face the Hoosiers on September 27.
The Terrapin’s sixth-year senior quarterback C.J. Brown will be taking the field for his final season opener to lead the Maryland offense. Stud wideout Stefon Diggs will likely also be leaving the Terps after the conclusion of the season, as it is widely assumed the talented receiver will be entering the 2014 NFL Draft. Diggs and fellow starting receiver Deon Long both suffered season-ending injuries midway through last season and will be seeing their first game action since. Running back Wes Brown will also be returning to the team after serving a year-long suspension in 2013.
The Dukes of James Madison finished last season with a 6 – 6 record as members of the Colonial Athletic Association of Division I FCS, but have made a few changes that could increase their chances of success in 2014. Quarterback Vad Lee, a dual-threat like Maryland’s C.J. Brown, is a transfer from Georgia Tech and will start for JMU against the Terps. The Dukes also have a new head coach in Everett Withers. Terps fans may recall the name as he served as the head coach for the North Carolina Tar Heels in 2011 after the firing of Butch Davis.
Hopefully Maryland can put away the Dukes relatively easily, but the team has struggled with FCS opponents in recent years. In 2012 Maryland barely squeaked out a 7 – 6 victory over the Tribe of William & Mary in the home opener. The previous season, the Towson Tigers made the short trip to College Park and hung with the Terps for much of the game, trailing only 7 – 3 at halftime before Maryland pulled away in the second half. Many Terps will also be shaking off some rust, including several key defensive players who missed significant time in 2013 as well the aforementioned offensive players.
There are many reasons to see the Terps in 2014 including their season opener against FCS opponent James Madison. Where else can you check out an FBS college football team for $4? On August 30, the answer is nowhere.

Terps' Biggest Challenge in 2014: Staying Healthy

On the verge of the first season as newcomers to the Big10, the Maryland Terrapins football team undoubtedly faces many uncertainties in the coming months. Perhaps the greatest uncertainty does not involve facing new opponents in an overall more talented football conference. It does not have anything to do with traveling to and playing in new stadiums, some packed with 20,000 more screaming fans than the most of any ACC stadium. It does not concern how head coach Randy Edsall’s style of coaching will pan out in a new power conference. The primary uncertainty, in light of the past two season of Terrapins football, is if the Terps can stay healthy.
In the first game of 2013, junior starting cornerback Jeremiah Johnson suffered a broken toe which sidelined him until the final game of the season. Johnson had started all 12 games for the Terps in 2012. In week three, Maryland’s remaining starting cornerback Dexter McDougle suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in a win at Connecticut. The injury ended the senior’s streak of 27 consecutive games started at cornerback and his collegiate athletic career. McDougle was on fire to start the season, recording three interceptions and returning one for a touchdown through the first three games. Despite being injured for the final nine games of the 2013 season, the New York Jets took the cornerback in the third round of the 2014 NFL draft.
Stefon Diggs and Deon Long, the team’s top two wide receivers, both suffered broken legs during a loss to Wake Forest in week seven. Diggs’ value to the team is unparalleled. It is widely assumed he will forego the 2015 season to enter the NFL draft and is projected to be a late first round or early second round pick. That is, if he can stay healthy and produce as well as he has the past two years despite average quarterback play. As a freshman in 2012, Diggs caught 54 passes for 848 yards and six touchdowns. He was the lone bright spot for a Maryland team with an overall anemic offense that finished the season with just four wins. Throughout seven games in 2013, he was on pace to surpass his impressive freshman statistics. Diggs snagged 34 passes for 587 yards and three touchdowns before his sophomore season was cut short. The wideout has also played a role in the return game the past two seasons, which further increases his value to the Terps in 2014 (and to NFL teams in 2015). In 2012, Diggs returned 22 punts for 221 yards and 25 kickoffs for 713 yards, a 28.5 yards/return average, and two touchdowns. In his seven games last season he averaged 23.4 yards in his 12 kickoff returns.
Deon Long stepped up as the Terps’ number two receiver last season before he, like Diggs, suffered a broken leg in week seven against Wake Forest. In his shortened season he caught 32 balls for 489 yards and a touchdown.
Terrapin starting quarterback C.J. Brown, now entering his sixth season with the team, missed two games due to a concussion suffered during a lop-sided defeat by eventual National Champion Florida State. Linebacker Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil suffered a season-ending pectoral injury in the fifth week of the season after recording 18 tackles, three sacks, and an interception. He was recently selected to the Butkus Award watch list for the 2014 season, which is given to the nation’s best linebacker. Safety-converted-to-outside-linebacker Matt Robinson was leading the team in tackles through five games last season before missing two games due to a shoulder injury. The senior has spent much of his collegiate career playing through injury, and this was a determining factor in the decision to make the switch from safety to linebacker prior to the 2013 season. Linebacker Cole Farrand became the team’s leading tackler through eight games last season before missing two of the next three games due to a concussion and a shoulder injury.

After missing all of 2012 and two games in 2013, Maryland starting quarterback C.J. Brown will need to remain healthy for the Terps to compete in the Big10 in 2014.
After missing all of 2012 and two games in 2013, Maryland starting quarterback C.J. Brown will need to remain healthy for the Terps to compete in the Big10 in 2014.

The 2013 parade of hobbled Terrapin contributors came after WR Markus Leak decided to take a year off from football and RB Wes Brown’s season-long suspension for his involvement in a drive-by shooting.
And while injuries are obviously nothing to make light of (especially for a Terps fan who is hoping for good karma in the 2014 season), the amount of injuries suffered in the 2012 season, particularly at the quarterback position, were even more outrageous. Just ask Shawn Petty, who quarterbacked for the final four games of 2012. After reigning starter Danny O’Brien transferred to Wisconsin prior to start of the 2012 season, four Terrapin quarterbacks fell to season-ending injuries which pushed Petty into the starting QB role. Petty was a freshman… and a linebacker. First-string QB C.J. Brown went down before the season began with a torn ACL. Backup QB Perry Hills, also a freshman, started the first six games of the season before suffering a torn ACL. Backup to the backup Devin Burns saw his demise from a Lisfranc injury to his left foot. Fourth-stringer Caleb Rowe tore his ACL ending his year, which led to Petty taking over under center. Burns has since transferred, but Brown, Hills, and Rowe all remain Terrapins. Petty has also transferred, although he saw significant time at linebacker last season and was presumed to compete for the starting gig in 2015.
If Maryland plans to compete in the Big10 in 2014, those aforementioned Terrapins still with the team will need to remain healthy. The defensive unit has the potential to be solid if linebackers Cudjoe-Virgil, Robinson, and Farrand can stay on the field. Terps fans have seen what the offense can do at times behind the dual-threat ability of a running quarterback in Brown, and in Diggs’ explosive downfield ability and NFL-worthy talent. If the Terps can stay healthy on both sides of the ball, this team could have surprising success in the upcoming season.