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Maryland has experience and talent at running back. Can they finally produce?

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The Terps return the same core unit from last season, but will hope for some increased production in C.J. Brown's absence.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Last year, Maryland ranked 12th out of 14 teams in the Big Ten in rushing offense at 121.8 yards per game.

The Terps are returning the same backfield as last season, with one noticeable absence from their running game: quarterback C.J. Brown.

Brown led the team in rushing last year with 539 yards on 161 carries, 57 more carries than Wes Brown, the second-most frequent ball-carrier.

With a new quarterback and inexperienced wide receivers, an effective running game will be necessary for the Terps' offense to compete in the Big Ten and take some pressure off Caleb Rowe, who is a pocket-passer and not nearly the running threat that Brown was.

The Terps do have experience, and while they lack depth, they have two talented guys at the top of the depth chart, both of whom could start for many Division 1 programs.

Starter(s):

Brandon Ross (Senior, 5'10", 205 lbs.)

The senior was the team's starting running back for each of the past two seasons, but will enter this year trying to prove he should keep that job. Ross isn't exactly explosive, but he's led the team's running backs in rushing yards each of the past three seasons. Last year, he had 419 rushing yards and his 4.9 yards per carry were the best of any back on the team with more than 20 carries. He has the second-most catches and receiving yards of any player returning this year, although his 90-yard touchdown catch against Syracuse accounts for almost half of his yardage. Ross is a reliable if not flashy threat to run or catch the ball out of the backfield.

Wes Brown (Junior, 6'0", 210 lbs.)

Brown had a solid season as in 2014 after missing the 2013 season due to suspension, and will be breathing down Ross's neck for the starting spot (or at least a share of the starting spot). Brown led all running backs in carries last season despite only starting four games, and finished with 356 yards and six touchdowns on 103 carries with an average of 3.3 yards per carry. Brown also has the most catches of any returning player for the Terps at 21, and had 198 yards receiving on the season. He will be another threat to catch passes out of the backfield, and you can never have to many of those. Even if he's not the starter, expect Brown to split carries with Ross at around a 50/50 clip.

Kenneth Goins Jr. (Junior, 5'9", 230 lbs.)

Goins will serve as the team's fullback. He appeared in all 13 games last year and started four. His main contributions will come as a blocker in front of Ross and Brown. Goins only had 14 carries last year, and unless the backfield is hit hard by the injury bug, he will primarily serve as a blocker this year as well.

Backups:

Ty Johnson (Freshman, 5'10", 173 lbs.)

The three-star recruit would have been a prime candidate to redshirt the season in order to bulk up a bit, but after the departures of Albert Reid and Jacquille Veii, Johnson will occupy the third running back spot, and should see some playing time. Don't be surprised if Randy Edsall gets him some carries early in the season against non-conference opponents in order to get his feet wet.

Joe Riddle (RS Junior, 210 lbs.)

Riddle has yet to receive a carry as a Terrapin, with all of his in-game contributions coming on special teams. Riddle has been named scout team player of the week several times in his three years at Maryland, and his experience could help vault him over Johnson on the depth chart if he performs well in preseason practice.

Andrew Stefanelli (RS Junior, 5'10", 240 lbs.)

Stefanelli has yet to appear in a game for Maryland. He'll probably only see game action if Goins gets hurt, and even if Goins gets injured, the redshirt junior still might not see game action.