Maryland has reached the midpoint of its regular season, and the Terrapins are not in a good position.
First-year Maryland coach Randy Edsall has said this is not a rebuilding year and that there would be zero excuses. The team sits at 2-4 overall and 1-2 in the ACC. For the Terrapins to reach a bowl game, they need to win four of their final six games. All but two — Boston College and Virginia — are away from Byrd Stadium. The rest of the way, Maryland may be favored in just one game: Boston College on Oct. 29.
The offense showed signs of effectiveness Saturday because of quarterback C.J. Brown’s mobility. The sophomore ran for 162 yards in the loss to Clemson. But there are still issues in the passing game, including imprecise passes and dropped balls. And here comes probably the best rushing defense Maryland will face all season: Florida State ranks ninth nationally against the run.
The injury-depleted defense started five freshmen and looked overmatched against Clemson’s explosive offense. In fairness, show me another ACC team that can contain the Tajh Boyd-Sammy Watkins combination. That said, if not for Cameron Chism’s interception or Watkins’ fumbled punt, Clemson likely would have broken the 60-point barrier Saturday night.
The special teams units have largely been a disaster. Nick Ferrara has generally punted well. But Maryland ranks among the nation’s worst in several categories, including punt return defense (95th), kickoff return average (105th) and kickoff return defense (118th).
And perhaps the biggest problem is that a team that had little depth to begin with continues to be decimated by injury. Linebackers Kenny Tate, Demetrius Hartsfield and Darin Drakeford and defensive lineman Andre Monroe all missed the Clemson game. Wide receiver Kevin Dorsey, linebacker Avery Graham and wide receiver Tyrek Cheeseboro suffered apparent injuries in the game, as well.
As for players returning to the field against Florida State, “It does not look like it right now as I talk to you today,” Edsall said Sunday. “I know we have guys who won’t be out there who were out there [against Clemson]. I don’t know if anybody will be back who was out these last couple games.”
That is an ominous statement if there ever was one. Florida State is a 17-point favorite in Saturday’s game.
How do you think Edsall has done so far? And please e-mail if you have any thoughts/questions on the team or on the job Edsall has done thus far: email@example.com. I always enjoy hearing from readers.