Last season the Maryland Terrapin football team as well known-- even nationally-- as the most inconsistent and confusing team in the nation. Fittingly, it is very hard now to know which direction the Terps are going in. They have lost a bevy of senior talent, are competing in a now much-improved conference, are welcoming in a new defensive coordinator, and have a second year with offensive coordinator James Franklin. So how should Terps fans feel: encouraged or discouraged?
I say encouraged, because most of the losses the Terps have sustained since the end of last season could have positive end results. For one, this team seems to be (based on reports from practice) far more consistent in their effort and their intensity now that so many players from last year are gone. While senior leadership has its benefits, last season it was those older players who failed to bring their best when playing against older competition. This team might be more raw and susceptible to other kinds of mistakes, but I think that with their youth and observation of last year's failings, Maryland has a chance to break that inconsistent reputation. It also doesn't hurt that the Terps have a couple of good recruiting classes in their freshman and sophomore classes to lean on.
Another departure that I believe will cause an immediate improvement is that of defensive coordinator Chris Cosh. I know he's a figure that inspires strong opinions from both sides, but I can't tell you how tired it got watching Maryland play the same vanilla defense throughout every game (rush four drop seven, repeat. and I don't care that the blitzer was always coming from a different spot) and continuing to watch players failing to tackle low. I know he was a good players coach, and I honestly don't care. The fundamentals were not there and neither was the scheme. This year it looks like Maryland will start to mix up and make some attempt to keep opponents off balance, and that's improvement in my book.
The Terps are stacked with youth at receiver, top talent at running back, have an experienced quarterback, but the offensive line does give cause for worry. This will be the biggest factor in Maryland being a contender this year, because the loss of Edwin Williams more than anyone else could be disastrous. The Terps need to find a reliable starting five at the very least; everything is predicated on protection, anyone who knows football knows that. So the Terps are going to need a couple of very green players to get acclimated awful fast in order to compete in the ACC.