As college football season approaches, I noted how difficult it was to pick someone to win the ACC’s Atlantic Division. On the flip side, I could easily argue the case against every team. The “slow season” for Wolfpack news is an ideal time to explore this in more detail. Previously, we talked about Clemson, Florida State, and Wake Forest. Today, we look at the always mysterious Maryland Terrapins.
This is by far the most difficult preview/case against to write. It’s not even close. Why? Because you never know what to expect with Maryland. They’re good (or at least hang around the periphery of good) when you expect them to be shitty. They’re mediocre when you expect a breakout season. Or, as CFN puts it, the Terps have been “a model of inconsistency” since blowing up Philip Rivers’ senior day in 2003 (which we discussed in excruciating detail here).
Even beyond that, recent vintage Maryland has been a boring football team that I neither love nor hate. This does not exactly make them “must see TV” in the BJD95 household. The one Terp game I really wanted to see last year wasn’t f-ing televised (to add insult to injury, we were at a party sans radio coverage for the last 4 minutes of regulation, and had to follow it by rudely and constantly refreshing SFN on my blackberry). The games I watched (even the close ones, like the upset win at Clemson) sucked for the unaffiliated viewer. So, I really don’t know how they looked in 2008.
Yet argue the case we must, and it’s not that complicated. First up, personnel. Maryland returns a senior starter at QB – which would be really impressive if he was any good. He’s also likely to be running (slowly) for his life, as Maryland loses more starters to graduation (well, exhaustion of eligibility at least) than any other ACC team, including most of its offensive and defensive lines. Being weak/thin on one line is bad enough – on both, it’s a recipe for disaster. I can’t name another returning Terp starter, but CFN says they have a good tailback and a good linebacker. Huzzah. Said LB (Alex Wujciak) is the Terps’ lone pre-season all ACC team member other than their punter (who expects to get alot of work this fall), and he almost certainly doesn’t make it if not for Nate Irving’s gruesome injury.
The schedule looks to favor Maryland – it’s the only Atlantic Division team who gets to play both Coastal Division bottom dwellers – Virginia and Duke (on the flip side, only Florida State gets neither). But can you really bank on that being an advantage when the uber-crappy 2008 Wahoos pantsed the Terps by a 31-0 margin? I think not. Most of the pundits rate every Atlantic team other than Boston College ahead of Maryland – and Big Ralph faces 3 of those 4 on the road in 2009. That doesn’t sound like a title winner to me, especially if tiebreakers come into play.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Friedgen rode off into the sunset with another bowl win. But I will be very surprised if that’s BCS (or even Peach or Gator) level. At least he’s well-insulated for another possible trip to Boise.