TGIF and TGFAPSFP! Oh, you aren’t familiar with that last one? Thank God For Another Pre-Season Football Preview! If you haven’t already, make sure to check out our previous 6 previews leading up to our home match-up with FSU on October 6th!
Maryland has traditionally been a problem child for NC State. Last season it took a last minute comeback to beat the Terps and secure a bowl bid. The season before that, NC State suffered a 7 point loss to #23 Maryland. The season before that NC State barely scraped out a win amidst a 4-game losing streak. Maryland has always been a worrisome game whether it’s O’Brien, Amato, or acne-ridden teenagers playing EA Sports NCAA football games. Last season, the Terps looked to be a push-over, winning one two of their previous 11 games against Miami and Towson. Still, it took NC State until the last quarters of the game to decide they wanted to win.
A REBUILDING PROGRAM
The irony, of course, is that Terp fans use to complain about now-NC State athletic director Debbie Yow not getting along with head football and basketball coaches Friedgen and Williams, then when a new athletic director took up the position in College Park, the first thing he does is let’s go National Champion Gary Williams and ACC Coach of the Year Friedgen.
Whatever, Maryland. You keep doing your crazy thang.
In year two, Randy Edsall needs to make some big moves to quiet the natives. First seasons are usually rough, especially when the previous coach already had a solid system in place. But keep in mind that Randy Edsall isn’t some bum lobbiest that athletic director Kevin Anderson picked-up off the streets of Washington. Edsall lead UConn’s transition from a I-AA to a I-A program in 2001, and subsequently got the Huskies to a bowl 5 of his last 7 seasons there. This guy knows how to coach and he’s no stranger to change and transition.
By the time we play Maryland, there may be a bigger force at work: injuries. Maryland had 12 players leave the roster last season under what appears to be Edsall’s “ground up” rebuilding of the program. In fact, Maryland returns only 15 starters overall, split almost evenly between offense and defense. This has the rest of the team worried and fans pissed. What we have to watch out for by October is (a) whether Maryland still have the bodies to compete and (b) if the team is starting to “gain strength through adversity” and solidify. This could be another classic Maryland game where NC State finds itself on the unfavorable side of a surprising contest.
It’s hard to tell if Randy’s offense didn’t work because it was a crappy offense or if it was because he was trying to run an ACC game as if it was a Big East game. Edsall believes in the run. In fact, at his last season, he was out-passed by his opponents by almost 1000 yards while demolishing his opponents with a 2270-1860 yard gap on the ground. Mix that up with a strong red-zone defense and you can really do some damage to opponents. The problem is that the ACC, much like many of the other larger conferences out there, is looking to the air and as such, Edsall was a bit of a fish-out-of-water.
Characteristically of an Edsall team, Maryland allowed their opponents more yards than them with a higher accuracy. Their passing was a respectable 53.7% accurate and averaged a well-below-average 5.82 yards per completion. With Danny O’Brien, former starting quarterback who controversially fought for a release from the program, no longer under-center, C.J. Brown will have to step up. Ironically, Brown is probably a better fit for Edsall’s style of play than O’Brien ever was, being a far more mobile quarterback in the pocket.
Despite Edsall’s normal offensive M.O., it appears he is trying to conform to the trends of the ACC… by landing top WR prospect Stefon Diggs. This is a young player who will undoubtedly see playing time in the already-thin Terp roster.
Will the Terps be a predicted threat this season? Hell no. Will the Terps be the same Terps they always are that gives NC State fits? That’s probably a safe bet…
Defensively, Edsall just couldn’t get his Maryland team to out-perform their opponents. Allowing 564 carries and 2637 yards on the season, Edsall’s defense allowed their opponents to defeat the one thing Randy is so use to relying on: the run. In the end, Maryland’s defense would allow 31 touchdowns on the ground and 18 in the air (compared to Maryland’s 16 on the ground and 14 in the air).
Last season, Maryland stuck with the 3-4 offense. Obviously this left them vulnerable to attacks from the rush. It will be interesting to see if Maryland decides to stick with this style of offense to reduce risk to their linebackers or if they will attempt to stiffen-up.
Maryland isn’t going to be a good team this season. Then again, Maryland wasn’t a good team last season and they still beat Miami and almost beat us. This is one of those teams that you can preview and research until the cows come home, but at the end of the day you are going to have to play them as if you were playing Ohio State or Oregon. These guys have a nasty habit for popping up mid-to-late season and disappointing people. If Tom O’Brien has a classic “what the fuck” game, this game gets my vote.