Maryland looks to rebound after rough 2011 season
Published: Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, June 13, 2012 01:06
This fall, West Virginia and Maryland will continue one of the longest-running rivalries in college football when they meet at Mountaineer Field Sept. 22.
Last season, both the Mountaineers and the Terrapins kicked off the latest chapters in their storied programs with new coaches at the helms, but the season’s cumulative results dictated that the two schools’ football programs may ultimately be headed in completely different directions.
For head coach Dana Holgorsen and West Virginia, the coaching transition was a monumental success, with the Mountaineers finishing in a tie for first in the Big East conference to go along with a record-breaking BCS bowl win that will forever echo in Mountaineer lore.
But Maryland head coach Randy Edsall and the Terrapins’ lackluster 2-10 season didn’t exactly send shock waves through College Park.
"I’ve been through this before," Edsall said last November amidst the conclusion to a disappointing first year. "I know how to handle it. I know what to do. There is no panic. It was like this the first year when we put the team together in Jacksonville. It’s Connecticut all over again, 13 years ago. Jacksonville Jaguars all over again. It’s going to Boston College when we were there.
"I’ve been through all of this. This isn’t earth-shattering. It doesn’t have me discouraged. I have a vision of what we’re going to do, and I know we’re doing things the right way."
Edsall’s confidence in his new team hasn’t necessarily been reciprocated by the program’s players, however. In fact, the Terrapins have lost at least 25 roster incumbents to various circumstances since Edsall took control of the program early in 2011, including quarterback Danny O’Brien, who transferred to Wisconsin this February after taking a majority of the snaps under center for Maryland last season.
Junior C.J. Brown, a dual-threat quarterback who saw action later on in last year’s season, is expected to be Maryland’s starting quarterback to open 2012, at least at this point, because he’s literally the only scholarship quarterback on the roster.
In 2011, Brown passed for 842 yards with seven touchdowns, was the team’s second leading rusher with 574 yards, led the team with five rushing touchdowns and even broke the school’s single game rushing record.
He will be accentuated by returning senior wide-receivers Kevin Dorsey and Kerry Boykins, who combined for 82 receptions and more than 1,000 yards in 2011.
The Mountaineers are 25-21-2 all-time against Maryland in an historical series that spans back to 1919 but have also won five straight contests against the Terrapins, including a hard-fought 37-31 road victory last September in which West Virginia withstood a furious second-half Maryland comeback.
It was a critical test for Holgorsen early in his young head coaching career, and you have to at least contemplate what a different result would have meant for both programs.
Edsall and Maryland would have moved to 2-0 with early marquee wins against Miami and then-ranked No. 18 West Virginia, and one more loss for the Mountaineers in 2011 would have likely erased any hopes of reaching the Orange Bowl.
This year the stakes will be steep for both teams, as the two face off the final week before intraconference play begins. For West Virginia to have a chance at the Big 12 crown in their pioneer year in the conference, they’ll have to be able to handle the Terrapins in what some are already deeming a rebuilding season in College Park.
But after last year’s memorable run, it’s likely West Virginia will start off 2012 with a target on their back, and a win for Edsall and the Terrapins could be just what the team needs to speed up the aforementioned rebuilding process and allow the players to share the same level of confidence their coach revels in.
"They look at how many you win and how many you lose," Edsall said after last year’s tumultuous season. "That’s the business that we’re in, and I understand that. But I look at the big picture because when you’re installing a program, there’s more than just wins and losses.
"We’re winning in a lot of areas; we’re just not winning on the field right now. But that will happen, I’m confident of that."