Team: Maryland Terrapins
W-L: 2-10 (1-7)
Top Offensive Performer: Davin Meggett, RB
Top Defensive Performer: Demetrius Hartsfield, LB
After hiring former Connecticut head coach Randy Edsall, Maryland was supposed to take the next step and contend for their first ACC title (and BCS game) since 2001. Instead, the program dropped to the familiar depths of 10-loss seasons and enough ineptitude to turn away even the most diehard Terrapins supporters. Of the Terps’ two victories, just one was against FBS competition (Miami), and even that one can be partially discounted due to how many players were suspended for the Hurricanes that night in September. Losers of their final eight games, even when things appeared to be going right for Maryland (second half vs. West Virginia, first half vs. Clemson and most of the NC State game), the bottom would just inevitably fall out in catastrophic fashion.
With a quarterback controversy on their hands for most of the season, Maryland’s offense finished a putrid 87th in the FBS, putting up just 23.1 points per game. The Terps would be held under 20 points six separate times during 2011, and if not for two separate 40-point outbursts (in defeat, no less), their average would be even worse. As one may guess, with all the deficits Maryland would face, the running game was used sparingly late in contests, however the team still managed to finish third in the ACC in rushing with nearly 170 yards on the ground per game. With no margin for error in most second halves though, the passing game — averaging just 210 yards per game — was trusted with the reigns, falling on its face more often than not.
Rather than simply being content with a mediocre offensive attack, Maryland’s defense was downright ugly in 2011. The unit, which was at or near the bottom of most defensive categories in the ACC, finished 102nd in the country in allowing 34.3 points per game. Eight different teams would score more than 30 points on the Terps, and four put up 40 or more. Most notably, after building a 27-point lead against NC State on the season’s final weekend, the Wolfpack battled all the way back in the fourth quarter to win by 15. In spite of all this, Maryland was one of just six teams in the ACC with a positive turnover margin, at plus-4. They had 27 takeaways (second in the league), compared to 23 giveaways (also in the lower half of the 12 ACC schools).
Putting the pieces back together after an absolutely horrendous season won’t be easy for second-year coach Edsall, but he’ll have to do so in order to keep his position. Most importantly, the quarterback controversy between Danny O’Brien and C.J. Brown must be decided in camp. From there, someone — anyone — needs to go to work on this defense. Cracking down on third down (where they finished last in terms of opponents’ conversion rate), and stopping the run (they allowed over 2,600 yards in just 12 games) should be first priorities if this team expects to even come close to a .500 record. As mentioned earlier, Edsall will not be afforded the luxury of building this thing up from the ground, so change must happen on the fly, and quickly.