1) The race for the third-best team in the ACC is up for grabs. There are two studs in the ACC: Florida State and Virginia Tech, both of which should have gaudy records — partly because of their schedules — by the end of the regular season. The best-of-the-rest distinction matters little, but Maryland and a full-strength Miami team should be in the hunt.
2) Depth, depth, depth. From the start of preseason camp, depth at linebacker loomed as one of Maryland’s biggest problems. Now depth along the defensive line also figures to be an issue, at least the next few weeks. End Isaiah Ross will have surgery and will be out indefinitely. Lineman Justin Anderson already will miss the next few weeks recovering from a foot injury. We will likely see what true freshman Keith Bowers can do against West Virginia on Sept. 17.
3) Maryland had better get its kickoff coverage in order. Everyone knows that West Virginia standout Tavon Austin had a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown on Sunday against Marshall. Miami had eight returns for 170 yards. Maryland Coach Randy Edsall called that “not acceptable.” Something to watch.
4) I thought Miami may have found its quarterback against Maryland. So I was surprised to see that Coach Al Golden named Jacory Harris as the starting quarterback against Ohio State. Stephen Morris, who battled Harris in camp before Harris was suspended one game, completed 19 of 28 passes for 195 yards and two interceptions against Maryland. He also didn’t have wide receiver Travis Benjamin. But Golden feels the offense can be better.
5) As fast-paced as Maryland’s offense was, expect it to operate at an even quicker tempo in the future. Edsall said that the offense was slowed because officials were too slow at times spotting the ball. Offensive players said they are in excellent condition and that practice tempo is much faster than what we saw in the Miami game.
6) The punting position was a question entering preseason camp. Nick Ferrara got just one opportunity against Miami, but he registered a 48-yard punt, which is good news for Maryland.
7) What do you make of the offensive line? It definitely performed well against Miami. Quarterback Danny O’Brien was not sacked, although he was pressured a few times. That said, keep in mind that Miami was missing three of four defensive linemen as well as star linebacker Sean Spence.
8) Fundamentally, this team looks sound. For a first game against a quality opponent, the Terrapins looked particularly strong fundamentally. They committed just four penalties for 35 yards, and that includes a false start penalty on each of their first two drives. And Maryland forced four turnovers and committed just one, O’Brien’s ill-advised end-zone throw. After thriving in turnover margin last season, Maryland is off to a good start again in that department.
9) Don’t expect too much injury information. Always polite, Edsall will say only what he has to. It was interesting that he did not even wish to disclose the nature of the injury to Ross, even though it was obvious Ross was favoring his leg when being helped off the field.
10) The West Virginia game will feature a clash between two innovative and explosive offenses. This one should be fun. WVU QB Geno Smith threw for 249 yards in a truncated victory over Marshall. O’Brien threw for 348. Maryland’s secondary will be tested far more than it was against the Hurricanes.
11) I’m sure you had circled the Oct. 22 game at Florida State before the season. Go ahead and circle it once more with a black marker. Things could change, of course, and college football is among the more unpredictable sports, but the stakes figure to be extremely high when the Terps visit Tallahassee. If Maryland wins it, it is in the driver’s seat to win the division. If Maryland loses it, FSU would have to lose at least two ACC games for Maryland to win the division. With a favorable schedule, FSU may not lose two.
12) The ACC has been quiet on the realignment front. That may not change in the near future. When and if the legal concerns over Texas A&M’s move to the SEC subside, then Oklahoma/Oklahoma State must decide whether they want to head to the Pac-12/16. Then does Texas go as well or become an independent? The Big 12 would be in pieces. The Big East, perhaps, would pick up some of those pieces, namely Kansas. Does the ACC even make a move at that point, other than trying to keep its existing league whole?