In what shouldn't come as a shock to any Terps fan, Maryland's football team was picked to finish in 5th place in the ACC's Atlantic division by the ACC's sports writers at today's ACC Football Kickoff. I think the ACC writers are second only to the Baltimore Sun in their hatred of Maryland Athletics, but I digress...
In case you couldn't tell, I don't really care that much about what the ACC writers think because in my opinion they know as much about football as a five year old school girl. But the fact that the writers think Maryland will finish behind a Boston College team that lost their star quarterback, a Florida State team who still is deciding who their quarterback will be, and a Wake Team that I'm not sure has another 9-4 season in them (but, as my dear colleague pointed out in an earlier post today, Wake does have the easiest schedule in the ACC), is somewhat concerning. Granted, Maryland has the toughest schedule in the ACC and 15th hardest in the nation, but I still don't think that justifies a 5th place finish in the Atlantic. Maryland is also predicted to finish behind Clemson, who is the pre-season favorite to not only win the Atlantic Division, but to beat Va. Tech in the ACC title game and capture the league's birth in the Orange Bowl. Although I think Clemson is a good team that could win the Atlantic Division, I also think they are the "safe" pick for the writers. Wake could surprise us again and I think Maryland should be viewed as a dark horse in the Atlantic.
The ACC writers seem to forget that Maryland will have one, if not the best, receiving corps in the ACC this year. Additionally, expect to see another two-headed monster at running back with Da'Rel Scott and Morgan Green, both of which should perform better than the Keon Lattimore and Lance Ball duo from last season. Put all of that together with a now experienced offensive line that finally should have some depth, and I see an 8 win team rather than one that will finish only ahead of NC State in the Atlantic Division.
Additionally, the return of James Franklin to the Terps coaching staff (Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator/QB coach), who spent the last two seasons as offensive coordinator at Kansas State, should prove to be a huge boost to the Terps offense. Expect the Terps to put a lot of points up on the board in much the same way Kansas State did last season.
The addition of Franklin should allow the Fridge to again focus on his head coaching responsibilities and hopefully better prepare for upcoming opponents, as he'll no longer be handling the play calling and offensive coordinator duties that he's been handling the past few seasons.
I also expect Franklin to really help Chris Turner and Jordan Steffy develop their games at QB, with Turner likely winning the starting job to begin the season. Franklin's recruiting talents, which he displayed back when he was MD's WR coach from 2000-2004, should also prove to be a huge plus for Maryland in the upcoming years.
I don't think this team is going to win the Atlantic Division, but I also don't expect them to finish second to last in the Atlantic Division. We'll know a lot about the Terps after the Cal game. If the Terps win that, there is no reason they can't get on a roll and finish with 8 or 9 wins this season.