Forgive Maryland if it would like to forget the second half of the 2012 season.
It was a disaster for the Terrapins.
After starting the season 4-2 overall, including 2-0 in the ACC, Maryland lost its final six to finish a disappointing 4-8 and missed the postseason for the second straight year.
It goes without saying that Year 3 of the Randy Edsall era is critical in terms of silencing the critics after two straight losing seasons and winning back a fan base who are thinking whether Edsall is the right man for the job.
If Edsall’s Terrapins, who are a combined 6-18 the last two seasons, are to improve in 2013 – its final season in the ACC – they must have a quarterback emerge from what’s a clouded situation at the position.
There’s captain C.J. Brown, who missed all of the 2012 campaign due to an ACL injury suffered in August, Perry Hills and Caleb Rowe. Both Hills and Rowe started games in ’12 before both were victims, too, of season-ending knee injuries.
In addition to that trio, transfers Ricardo Young and Dustin Dailey figure into the mix as does Shane Cockerille, one of the top QB recruits in the Class of 2013.
Due to all the injuries, Young and Dailey will be atop the depth chart when spring camp opens. However, keep an eye on Cockerille who has a legitimate shot at being the starter in the fall if he can beat out Brown and Hills. If Edsall can get the quarterback situation straightened out, the Terrapins could reverse their fortunes from the last two seasons. Helping matters will be the return of all four running backs.
On the flipside, two of the Terps’ best wide receivers and three top tight ends are gone, so it won’t be easy improving an offense that ranked last in the country, averaging 284.8 yards per game. Another area of concern is the offensive line, where a couple starters need to be replaced from a unit that was one of the worst protecting the quarterback. Maryland gave up a whooping 40 sacks in 12 games, one of the worst figures in the nation.
As for the defense, it was good enough to win with in 2012, but there will be a couple gaping holes to fill as two of the ACC’s best d-linemen in A.J. Francis and Joe Vellano have exited. Making things even more challenging for Edsall and his staff is the departure of a couple key linebackers. The back end of the defense will be the expected strength of the unit as most of the Terps’ DBs return.
All in all, though, if – and it may be a big if – someone can step up at the quarterback position and provide consistent production you can expect Maryland to be back in a bowl game in 2013. The one caveat: As long as the Terps can stay relatively healthy.
Looking even further into the future, things look bright for Maryland’s program when it joins the Big Ten in July of 2014. That’s because there are some extremely talented freshmen on board and you have to believe Edsall’s system will be successful in College Park.
Doug Griffiths is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the US Basketball Writers Association. Doug is a columnist/writer for RantSports. Follow him on Twitter @ISLgriffiths and Facebook.