By John Langley @Langley486
The Terps open up their season on Saturday against the Florida International Golden Panthers, welcoming in another football year.
The Terps have new pieces to their offense that could bring that could bring fireworks with quarterback CJ Brown returning this season. Brown will bring a dual-threat option, keeping defenses on their toes, mixed in with the big time play ability of sophomore sensation Stefon Diggs.
With the season about to be upon us, here are a few things to look for when the Terps take the field on Saturday:
1. How do the running backs perform, and how does Mike Locksley split their reps?
It is without question that Brandon Ross will start and see the majority of time at running back, but the question is, how will they use the other running backs behind him? Albert Reid will also see some time, but the Terps wanted to use Jacquille Veii this season in certain situations, but he is suffering from an injury. If the running backs struggle, look for CJ Brown to take a bit more of the load rushing.
2. How does Stefon Diggs open up his sophomore season?
Diggs had a very impressive freshman year, even though he never truly had a viable option at quarterback. Diggs did it all; whether it was returning kicks and punts or catching the ball. As big of a playmaker as Diggs was, one can’t help but wonder whether or not the Terps want to leave him susceptible to injury. If the Terps want to cut down the injury risk, this would involve taking him off of special teams. It is doubtful that Randy Edsall would do this, but it is worth monitoring.
3. How does the defense look after losing key players?
The Terps lost some serious talent with the graduations of AJ Francis, Joe Vellano, Kenny Tate, Darin Drakeford and Demetrius Hartsfield. They will have to plug those positions, but the Terps have some deep talent at those positions. A few players to watch for are Yannick Kudjoe-Virgil, Marcus Whitfield, Cole Farrand, and Alex Twine. Darius Kilgo will man the middle of the defensive line, and Quinton Jefferson will be coming from the defensive end position. If those players can live up to expectations, with a returning veteran secondary, the Terps could have a sold defense.
4. Can the Terps finish off games?
The Terps were very close to being a six win team last season, if they could have finished off a couple games. It is easy to point to missed field goals, but as a team, they allowed big plays and stalled on offense at some very big times. If the Terps can fix some things, they should be a surprise team this season.
The opening game this season is no cake walk, and will be a tough game for the Terps. On paper, the Terps should walk away with a victory, but this is where everyone gets to see what the Terps have as a team. If they live up to expectations within the team, there is no question they should be bowl-bound. Playing complete games and limiting the mistakes will be key going forward.