College football never ends, and during the next few weeks teams will be getting ready for the 2013 season in their spring practice sessions. Here's a look at the Maryland Terrapins and what they'll be working on this spring.
Spring practice began: March 2
Spring game: April 12
2012 record: 4-8 overall, 2-6 ACC
Returning starters: 12 (seven offense, five defense)
The Least You Should Know about Maryland This Spring
-- Can Ricardo Young shake up the quarterback competition? The Maryland quarterback position took on new levels of infamy in 2012 when season-ending injuries to the first four QBs forced freshman linebacker Shawn Petty under center. Petty is back to the defensive side of the ball in 2013, and C.J. Brown -- the 2012 starter before a noncontact knee injury in fall camp -- is expected to compete for the starting job once he is cleared for full contact. Until then the spotlight is on transfer quarterback Ricardo Young. Young, a Washington, D.C., native, has had stops at Virginia Tech, New Mexico, and Iowa Western Community College on his way to rejoining Mike Locksley at Maryland. It will be interesting to watch Locksley as he continues to develop Young and wide receiver Deon Long, also a transfer from New Mexico by way of Iowa Western, alongside all-everything wide receiver Stefon Diggs. While many fans are quick to believe Young is the future, Randy Edsall will likely wait to give Brown a fair chance with starter's reps before handing over the keys to the offense.
-- Can Brandon Ross be an every down back? When the quarterback issues forced desperation late in the season, redshirt freshman running back Brandon Ross stepped up with 337 rushing yards in the final four games. Ross earned the starting job for the final game of the season and enters spring practice with higher expectations from the staff. Edsall told reporters that he wants Ross to be an "every-down guy."
"First, second, third down, short yards, goal line -- we want him to really be able to do it all," Edsall said of Ross. "He's out there running hard. I think he's playing with a lot of confidence. I think he understands the offense, and with that understanding and the confidence he gained from last year, we expect his production and his play to go to a higher level."
Ross averaged 4.59 yards per carry in limited action last season. Regardless of who starts at quarterback, a consistent running game will be necessary for the Terps to bounce back from one of the most frustrating offensive performances in recent history.
-- Matt Robinson's move from safety to SAM linebacker. Matt Robinson broke on to the scene as a freshman in 2010, appearing in all 13 games as a key reserve in the defensive backfield. Robinson's sophomore campaign was ended after three game due to a season-ending shoulder injury and injuries continued to nag through 2012. Edsall and defensive coordinator Brian Stewart have moved Robinson to the SAM linebacker position for 2013, giving a much-needed boost the depth at linebacker in Stewart's 3-4 system. When healthy, Robinson has been a versatile defender with a knack for racking up tackles. The safety-turned-linbeacker has not been cleared for contact in spring practice, but Edsall did say that he can already tell "it's a better position for [Robinson]."
-- Can the defense replicate the success of year one under Stewart? The disappointing 4-8 record and widely publicized offensive struggles masked a fantastic first season under defensive coordinator Stewart. Stewart moved the Terps to a 3-4 scheme, and the result was a unit that ranked No. 3 in the ACC in total defense. The concern for 2013, particularly in spring practice, is looking for new faces to step in after a mass exodus of defensive leaders. Six of the top 10 tacklers from 2012 have graduated, which means Stewart not only needs bodies but also leaders. Many of the likely candidates to fill those roles, like Robinson or defensive lineman Andre Monroe -- a freshman All-American in 2011, will be limited in spring participation. The offense has nowhere to go but up, so the pressure will be on the defense to reload and repeat the effort from last season.
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