Tom Dienhart, BTN.com Senior Writer, April 16, 2015
Maryland enjoyed a successful Big Ten debut in 2014, going 7-6 overall and 4-4 in conference play. That allowed the Terps to finish in third place in the uber-tough East Division highlighted by roads victories at Penn State and at Michigan. Now, it?s time to keep developing.
The Terps have some holes to fill, beginning with two yawning openings at receiver with Stefon Diggs and Deon Long gone. And the defense has a new coordinator in Keith Dudzinski, who has scrapped the old 3-4 and installed a 4-3. The unit must improve after ranking 97th in the nation in total defense last season and 93rd in scoring defense.
And is Caleb Rowe the answer at quarterback? He didn?t see action this spring while still recovering from a knee injury. Shane Cockerille and Perry Hills got plenty of work in the spring as a result.
I caught up with Maryland boss Randy Edsall-who is entering his fifth season in College Park, Md.–to get his thoughts on spring drills.
Q: What were some of the things you were pleased with this spring?
A: I thought we got better on both sides of the ball in terms of everyone having a good grasp and knowledge of what our bread-and-butter is. We feel good about being able to execute that. The kids feel good about knowing it inside and out on both sides of the ball. Our guys have a lot of confidence in knowing who we are, what we are going to be and what we are going to do.
Q: Any position groups you are pleased with?
A: I think our secondary is good when you look at Sean Davis, Anthony Nixon, A.J. Hendy and Will Likely, those guys ? (new defensive backs coach) Darrell Perkins came in and did a good job with them. They are communicating well, playing new techniques well, they understand the techniques we are playing. Darrell has been really consistent with them. We have three young linebackers in Jalen Brooks, Jermaine Carter and Abner Logan, guys who can develop. We didn?t have everyone out there on the defensive line, so a lot of young guys got work. I thought our offensive line came together and got a lot better. I thought (new running backs coach) Terry Richardson came in and did a good job with the running backs. We didn?t see the ball on the ground much this spring, which was a big improvement for us. At receiver, we had some guys out, so we weren?t at full strength.
Q: What are your biggest concerns entering the offseason?
A: We have a bunch of guys who missed the spring because of surgeries. It?s a matter of getting everyone back, making sure we don?t lose any depth. We had (defensive lineman) David Shaw who had surgery and (offensive lineman) Derwin Gray had surgery, we hope they come back healthy. As long as we don?t lose our depth and can stay healthy, that?s my biggest concern.
Q: How does the quarterback spot look?
A: Caleb (Rowe) is the quarterback. Perry (Hills) is No. 2 and Shane (Cockerille) is third. We are going to look to see if we can add anything to our roster as we move forward with fifth-year guys. We won?t discount any position. If there is an area we can help ourselves in any position, we?ll look to do it. The rules allow it.
Q: You have now been in the Big Ten for a season. What have you learned about the conference?
A: I wanted to finish better than we did, but I think our kids understand what we have to deal with. We could tell them what they were going to face because some of our coaches had faced Big Ten teams before. But until they go through it and experience it, they won?t know first-hand. Now, they know what they have to do. We had to get bigger and stronger and had to recruit more athletic linemen. It?s a lineman league and a league that will run it more than some of the teams we faced in the other league (ACC). We have to buckle it up more and get bigger and stronger. Then you need that strength to finish the season so you don?t wear down as the season goes on.
Q: Why the change at defensive coordinator?
A: I felt with our personnel, we were more suited to a 4-3. It fits us better. I have had a lot of experience with that. (Defensive coordinator) Keith (Dudzinski) has had experience with it. And Darrell Perkins knows all the techniques and terminologies, and he has added some things. The big thing was we needed to be in a 4-3 because of our personnel. And we need to play more consistently week in and week out.
Q: Is this your most talented team since taking over the program in 2011?
A: Once we incorporate our freshmen, it will be. It?s a young team. But there is more talent here top to bottom from what we have had here before.
|About Tom Dienhart||BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men's basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.|
And if you want to leave a comment on this post, use the box below. All comments need to be approved by a moderator.