Anyone making it out this year to the spring game this year? I'm very interested to see the reports and all the video that come from the game. I'll go ahead and break down what I'm looking for on offense and defense after the break.
Quarterbacks - This is really a non-issue at this point. If CJ Brown can't fend off a DII walk-on who never threw a ball in DII, I'm scared for this season. I'd like to see him make some strides in terms of accuracy and consistency however. He has the arm to throw it, as he was considered a sleeper threat to become a very good spread or pro guy coming into MD. How pissed Tyler Smith must be for transferring to Elon...
Running Backs - Another non-issue to me. Pickett has the de-facto starting job and is being backed up by Brandon Ross. This competition won't heat up until Wes Brown and Albert Reid arrive. What I'm more interested in is if Ross has developed enough to become a viable 3rd running back. Perhaps we could RS Reid and space out the scholarships if this does occur. Although, Edsall is big on the best player making the field and isn't afraid to burn redshirts (as witnessed last year), so we'll see how that plays out.
Wide Receivers - Can somebody catch the ball?!? I really want to see the development of King and Leak, who were two high 3 star recruits out of the 2011 class who were supposed to impress.
Offensive Line - How are the tackles going to hold up after shuffling earlier in spring practice? I'm hoping that they have shown some strides in the off-season and put on some bulk so we don't need to burn Madaras' redshirt this season a la Max Garcia, but we'll see how spring goes first. Is this the year that Pete White can finally break into the starting lineup and show that 4 star potential he had coming out of high school? Who is going to step up at center?
Tight End - Meh, who else is there besides Furstenburg and Campbell? If one gets injured, it will become a bigger issue, but TE is a position that MD has depth at, and quality depth as well.
Defensive Line - This is the position that is of most question and potential at the same time. AJ Francis appears to have taken over the NT position, which is of great importance in the 3-4. Can he become a force in the middle to take up two blockers as he needs to? I think he can, but in the 3-4 he is probably more suited to play a 3-4 end. Nevertheless, if he can prove to be effective in the middle this probably does wonders for him in terms of pro potential. There are so many 3-4 teams in the NFL now that they almost take a flyer on any NT coming out. The DE positions are also of question. Both ends are hurt going into the spring game, so we don't get to see what hte starting ends will do. Monroe is starting at DE in the spring game and many will look to see if he brings the tenacity he did as a freshman. The bigger question to me is whether he can occupy an OT in the 3-4 system like he needs to so that the LBs can make plays. He is very undersized to play DL (but he was as a 4-3 DT too), and probably would fit best as a 4-3 end in the mold of Mathis or Freeney. As a 3-4 end I'm not too sure he will excel in what he needs to. He has the quickness to penetrate, but that isn't what a 3-4 end does. The other starting end is Vellano, and I think we all know what he brings. He is undersized for a 3-4 end as well, but I think he adapts better.
Outside Linebackers - This is the fun position to play in a 3-4. Do Alex Twine and Drakeford develop further into that rush LB that the 3-4 requires? I'm hoping so, but for there sake they better as well because Edsall went LB crazy in the 2012 class. Literally, he brought in 8 players that could play LB (2-3 are ILBs). While Twine and Drakeford battle it out for the one spot, the other side belongs to Kenny Tate (unfortunately..). At MD, Tate is probably better suited at Safety where he can excel now, but for his future I have to give Edsall credit for realizing he is too big to play Safety in the NFL and moving him to OLB. I hope Kenny has put on some bulk this off-season to play the 3-4 OLB (not STAR, thank god). I think he can excel at the position, given the time to learn it. I'm not sure last year counts as a year to learn it, as the STAR position is some made up figment of Brafors imagination. Tate is out for the spring game, so expect Twine to take the majority of the starter snaps. Drakeford is out for academics as well, so the LB corps is a little hard to predict. We'll see how our depth does, for sure.
Inside LB - Cole Farrand and Hartsfield have the inside spots locked up in the 3-4 for Stewart. The depth behind them is suspect, but I think that improves with the LBs coming in as freshman. Expect Abner Logan (our favorite tweeter and recruiter) and Stefan Houston to push to get into the depth chart as freshman here. Logans frame looks college ready, so we'll see how he translates to the college game, but I'm expecting big things out of him in his Terps career.
Cornerbacks - Well, this positions is a bit thin, but should be improving. Jeremiah Johnson and Dexter Mcdougle have the positions locked down, but the depth behind them is a little suspect. With Graham transferring (which makes no sense, he would of been the nickel corner), Issac Goins looks to be the de-facto nickel corner. I'm wondering here if Edsall looks to a true freshman to take up the depth. Does he make the bold move of trying to see if Albert Reid wants to play corner? He played it at Friendship and was projected as either a corner or RB in college.
Safety - Matt Robinson and Eric Franklin are back. Two starters with experience, so that is a good thing. Many wanted to see Tate take Franklins spot, but Franklin won't do terrible with a year under his belt. The depth at FS behind Franklin is suspect, with Undray Clark (what a name), a former 2 star safety from FL, his backup. MD brought in some freshman at safety, so expect a push for that backup spot. The transfer of Titus Till is starting to hurt for depth.
So, what is everyone's thoughts? I really am interested in the defensive transition, and I think the defense is going to cause the Terps fans most heartache this year. It isn't hte lack of skill that concerns me as much as the transition to a 3-4 that does. The DL is key in a 3-4, and we don't necessarily have the right pieces to make that work. That doesn't mean it won't, but it does make it harder. LB is the deepest position we have on defense right now, so I'm expecting some big plays from them this year. I don't think they will get run over like they did against Temple again. Corner could be interesting, with McDougle making many boom or bust plays last year, so if he can become consistent we could have a solid corner on our hands.
Anyways, I guess I should do something at work this morning, so comment away, I'm sure I'll have more thoughts later on this.