Critiquing CFN's Maryland Football Preview

CFN does a rather popular preview of every single FBS team in the country before each year. It's a great resource because it gives a general, good overview of each team, but like most general resources, it makes a few mistakes in every preview. It's a simple symptom, created by their separation from every team. Like a bunch of other blogs have done with their teams, we'll critique and correct CFN's Maryland preview, offering a second opinion formed out of more team-specific knowledge.

So let's kick it off, eh?

What to look for on offense

What CFN says:

The introduction of the option. No, Maryland won't be doing an impression of one of the service academies, but it will look to leverage the athleticism of likely starting QB Jamarr Robinson. When the Terps were peaking under Ralph Friedgen, they used Shaun Hill as a multi-dimensional threat from behind center. Robinson has similar traits, possessing a strong arm and the quickness to do a lot of damage outside the pocket. As a backup last season, he third on the team in rushing, beating Virginia Tech and Florida State for 187 yards in consecutive weeks.

This is rather overlooked by most fans, but potentially correct. Friedgen mentioned it at the end of the year last season, and with a fast backfield and slimmer line, Maryland has the personnel to do it. I'd also add that Torrey Smith should be looked out for as a potential Wildcat option; it was given a try a few times last year with limited success, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him given another shot.

Testudo Times says:

I still think Maryland needs to determine a QB before they can fully accept the option as an option (hehe). The other major thing to look out for is, obviously, the offensive line. I don't quite believe this requires explanation, but just like last year, Maryland's offensive line has the potential to derail any offensive gameplan, option or not. In terms of something new to look for, I'd say to look for more two tight end or three or four WR sets. With Devonte Campbell and Lansford Watson, Maryland has two starter-level TEs, and has a load of depth at WR. A Cory Jackson-less FB position, meanwhile, is less than confidence-inducing.

What to look for on defense

CFN says:

The linebackers. There won’t be a ton of reasons to monitor Maryland this season. On offense, WR Torrey Smith and RB Da’Rel Scott can be real exciting. And on defense, the Terps have cobbled together one of the most underrated collections of linebackers in the nation. Most fans outside of ACC country wouldn’t be able to pick Alex Wujciak, Adrian Moten, or Demetrius Hartsfield out of a lineup, but all three are playmakers, with the potential to keep playing on Sundays once they’re through in College Park.

Yessir. The linebackers are always one of Maryland's strengths, and honestly this is a top 15 unit in the country. You won't hear that much after last year's campaign, but all three starters would likely start on almost every other team in the country. Wujciak and Moten are almost certain draft picks, and Hartsfield as the potential to become a marquee player.

Testuo Times says:

In addition to the linebacker, I'd keep an eye on the safeties and Don Brown's scheme. Brown is well-known for his blitz-heavy defensive teams, but last year it had mixed success (and, some would argue, mixed implementation). Its worth looking out for different and/or more blitz packages.

Meanwhile, Maryland's safeties are one of the biggest areas of flux from last year. Both starters are gone, which would normally mean that the succeeding unit is worse. But Maryland's new safeties - Kenny Tate and Antwine Perez - are both former All-Americans and are likely two of the most naturally talented players on Maryland's team. They're also two of the most mistake-prone if last year is any indication, so they're make-or-break. Considering the fragility of Maryland's team next year, they'll be one of the most important, and overlooked, groups on the team.

This team will be far better if...

CFN says:

...it can find a way to win a few more of the close games. Yeah, the Terps were just 2-10 last season, but peeling the onion reveals that in seven losses, they were within a touchdown in the fourth quarter. With a third down conversion here and a defensive stop there, maybe Maryland doesn’t author one of its worst seasons in school history. This program won’t blow anyway out, save for maybe Morgan State, making late-game execution especially critical for overall success. 

 Hey, didn't I already say this? Yeah, I did. And just like then, I still believe it. With a little bit of luck, Maryland is pushing for bowl contention last season. hopefully they'll get it this year.

Testudo Times says:

...and if it can keep Torrey Smith involved. Last year, there was a five or so game stretch where Torrey Smith got basically nothing in the way of touches. As Maryland's best offensive player by a country mile at the time (Da'Rel Scott was injured), that's simply unacceptable. He needs to be getting several touches a game, and I don't care how he gets them. This offense isn't a guaranteed scoring machine, but Smith is a legitimate threat every time he touches the ball.

The schedule

CFN says:

If the Terps can get by Navy in the season opener at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, the first half of the season should be terrific with winnable games against Morgan State, FIU, and Duke before the break in early October. There's a road trip to West Virginia thrown in there, but a 4-1 start is a must with the brutal part of the slate kicking in with four road games in five weeks going to Clemson, Boston College, Miami, and Virginia with a home date against Wake Forest thrown in the middle. Closing out against Florida State and NC State isn't going to be easy, but those are home games that the Terps must split. On the plus side, getting Duke and Virginia from the Coastal is a huge break (but the other interdivisional game is against Miami).

Basically.

Testudo Times says:

What else do you want me to say? Maryland got off easy with the division schedule and the OOC schedule is manageable. No bowl would be a failure.

Best offensive player

CFN says:

Junior WR Torrey Smith. Smith isn't just a big reptile in a small pond. No, he'd make plays on offense and special teams for any program in the country. Far more than just a physically-gifted 6-1, 200-pounder, he has the work ethic and desire to get better that make coaches wish they had 10 more just like him. Despite getting mediocre support from the quarterbacks, he still caught a team-high 61 passes for 824 yards and five touchdowns. Oh, and he was also honored as both a second All-ACC receiver and kick returner.

Correct.

Testudo Times says:

Again, this one's right. Torrey Smith is a top-flight player. Then again, you don't need us to tell you this; we're the campaign managers, after all. He should arrive on the national scene this year as long as the QB is good enough and he receives enough touches each game.

Best defensive player

CFN says:

Senior LB Alex Wujciak. As a sophomore, Wujciak led the Terps with 133 tackles. As a junior, he had a team-best 131. Expect more of the same from a 6-3, 245-pound defender, who can sniff out running plays and lower the boom about as well as any inside linebacker in the country. Entering his final season in great shape and eager to impress pro scouts, he’s a textbook tackler at the position, rarely letting a ballcarrier get out of his grasp.

That's going to be tough to argue with. Did anyone else get on the Nagurski watch list? Didn't think so.

Testudo Times says:

There are a few other options, I guess. Adrian Moten and Demetrius Hartsfield could push if they progress much; so too could Cam Chism. And like I said earlier, Perez and Tate are two of the most purely talented players on the team, regardless of position or productivity. They're well worth watching.

Key player to a successful season

CFN says:

Senior RB Da'Rel Scott. Two years ago, Scott was an All-ACC first teamer, with half of his amateur career still in front of him. Injuries, however, have been like a stick in his spokes, limiting him to just 85 carries in 2009. When Scott is Scott, everyone on the offense, from the blockers to the quarterback, are better. Especially with an unproven hurler under center, Maryland needs a feature back, who can extend drives and keep the spotty defense from having to be on the field for extended periods of time.

This is right, but it makes a couple of assumptions, mainly that the OL will improve. It it doesn't, I don't really know if Scott's ultimate success will be entirely in his own hands, or even all that important. That said, if Scott finds success, it's likely that Maryland will, too.

Testudo Times says:

If I'm writing this without CFN's preview to base off of, I'd probably say Jamarr Robinson, even if Scott works too. The biggest reason is if Scott fails, for whatever reason, Maryland's depth at running back is good enough to cover. In fact, Davin Meggett might have a higher ceiling next year than Scott. He was certainly the darkhorse for that last year, and I wouldn't be surprised to find that he starts, even over Scott.

This season will be a success if...

CFN says:

...the Terrapins can stem the recent tide and make it back to the postseason. Even with a schedule that has Morgan State and Florida International visiting Byrd Stadium, six wins might be a tall order. The road schedule is very tough, and the program doesn’t show much of a propensity for delivering upsets. Still, it’s imperative that the program gather up a little momentum or else it stands to fall into an even deeper funk.

That's certainly my low threshold for success.

Testudo Times says:

Completely agree, a bowl is the success/failure mark for next season. Get to a bowl, we should be satisfied. Don't, the year's a failure.

Key game

CFN says:

Sept. 6 vs. Navy. Right out of the gate, the Terrapins will be playing for local bragging rights and an opportunity to pick up a head of steam in front of a huge audience. This is the first meeting between these two Maryland programs in five years and just the second since 1965. Against Ricky Dobbs and the vaunted Midshipmen option attack, the Terps will know right away whether the rebuilt defensive line made enough strides in the offseason. An embarrassing loss in Baltimore could be the beginning of the end for Friedgen.

You can't really argue with it. It's nearly universally-accepted that the opener is the most important.

Testudo Times says:

If Maryland loses, then yes, this is likely the key game. If they win, then there will be several key games after it, including at UVA, at home against Wake Forest, and at home against N.C. State. Those are likely toss-up games, and may determine how good or bad of a bowl Maryland goes to.

 The rest of the preview is also worth reading, but we won't critique all of it. Read the offensive preview, the defensive preview, and the depth chart.

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