Maryland could be ‘trap’ game for Mountaineers
Published: Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Updated: Tuesday, June 7, 2011 22:06
When West Virginia takes on Maryland at noon on Sept. 17, the Mountaineers will be looking for their sixth straight win over the Terrapins in a series that has been hotly contested ever since the teams' first meeting in 1919.
This year's meeting will be a bit different, though. For the first time, WVU will face a Maryland team that is led by former Connecticut coach Randy Edsall, who took over for Ralph Friedgen following the 2010 season.
Connecticut, of course, was the victor of last year's matchup against West Virginia. That game was the spark that led the Huskies to a Big East Conference title and BCS bowl bid.
Edsall obviously knows what he's going up against when the Mountaineers come to town, but will he know enough about his own team to make it a game?
The key on offense for Terrapin quarterback Danny O'Brien, who had a sensational freshman season after being named the ACC's Rookie of the Year.
West Virginia fans will remember O'Brien as the signal caller that Mountaineer defensive end Bruce Irvin clobbered prior to halftime.
That was a bad day for O'Brien, who didn't attempt a pass at Milan Puskar Stadium on that afternoon.
But, he had many good days last fall, as well. He eventually overtook starter Jamarr Robinson after the Mountaineers played the Terrapins and ran with the position.
He passed for 2,438 yards and 22 touchdowns as a freshman. In the team's spring game, O'Brien was the star. He threw for 199 yards and two touchdowns including a 65-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage.
Maryland got a gem when former LSU offensive coordinator Gary Crowton decided to leave Baton Rouge, La., for a new job in College Park, Md. His offense is multi-dimensional and should adapt well to the players who are already in place at Maryland.
O'Brien will have to find some new receivers to throw to, however, as the team's top two pass catchers, Torrey Smith and Adrian Cannon, graduated. Smith was a two-time all-ACC choice, so his loss will easily be felt the most on the offense.
To take their place, Maryland will look to junior receiver Kevin Dorsey, a pair of senior receivers Quintin McCree and Ronnie Tyler and junior tight end Matt Furstenburg.
Those four caught a combined for 56 catches, 730 yards and five touchdowns a year ago.
Maryland loses starting running back Da'Rel Scott, who rushed for 708 yards and five touchdowns last year.
But, the Terrapins return their leading rusher from 2010, Davin Meggett, who rushed for 720 yards and four touchdowns as a junior. They also return the team's biggest red zone threat, sophomore running back D.J. Adams, who had 11 touchdowns on the ground to lead the team last season.
Maryland returns four starters on the offensive line, led by two-year starter Andrew Gonnella.
Maryland returns seven starters from last year's defense, which finished as one of the better units against the run last year but struggled against the run.
What will work in the Terrapins' favor is that they return three starters on the line led by junior defensive tackle Joe Vellano, who was a second team all-ACC selection a year ago.
The other two starters, tackle A.J. Francis and end Justin Anderson are solid, as well. Maryland will start three new players at linebacker. The lone returning starter is Demetrius Hartsfield, who is a two-year starter and ranked third on the team in tackles last year.
The Terrapins must find a replacement for linebacker Alex Wujciak, a three-time all-ACC selection (first-team in 2009 and 2010).
Maryland returns starting cornerbacks Trenton Hughes and Cameron Chism, which is normally a good thing. But, the Terrapins struggled so much against the pass that a change might have been needed. Two new starters at safety, junior Eric Franklin and sophomore Matt Robinson, will be in the defensive backfield.