Maryland 2013 season preview

Maryland won nine games in 2010, but that wasn't enough for coach Ralph Friedgen -- a Terps alum -- to keep his job. The Terps had a disastrous 2011 season, going 2-10. Things got a bit better last season for coach Randy Edsall, as Maryland went 4-8 despite an injury-riddled campaign that saw the Terps use five quarterbacks.

After having five players drafted in 2009, Maryland had a total of five players selected from 2010-13. The senior class again is weak this season, but Edsall has brought in some talented underclassmen, including rising star WR Stefon Diggs. Edsall prefers to win with defense and a strong rushing attack, but he has loosened the reins on offense to the extent that the Terps will be a spread team this fall. Expect Diggs to put up big numbers -- if, that is, injuries don't disrupt the quarterback situation again. If a rebuilt defensive front seven holds up against the run, the Terps will have a legitimate shot at a bowl bid.

Top senior prospect

CB Dexter McDougle: McDougle (5-foot-11, 195 pounds) is heading into his third season as a starter for a Terps team that likely won't rely on many seniors on defense -- and, frankly, doesn't have that many good seniors on the roster. McDougle was third on the team with 71 tackles last season and has three interceptions and 14 pass breakups in his career. He needs to show better range and coverage skills.

Top underclassmen

WR Stefon Diggs: Maryland has had some productive receivers in its history, but Diggs could (should?) go down as the best. Diggs (6-1, 185) arrived with a ton of hype out of high school in the Baltimore area, and he began to live up to it last fall as a true freshman. Despite working with five quarterbacks -- none of whom, frankly, could be considered a quality signal-caller -- and being a marked man on offense, Diggs had 54 receptions for 848 yards and six touchdowns. He also was effective as a return man (two touchdowns on kickoff returns). Diggs flashed big-time speed, great explosiveness and elusiveness. He must become a better-rounded receiver, but he has the tools to eventually be an All-American.

ILB Cole Farrand: He made three tackles as a seldom-used reserve when he was a true freshman in 2011, but emerged as a tough, physical inside 'backer last season. Farrand (6-3, 245), who has added about 20 pounds since signing with the Terps, tied for the team lead with 78 tackles. He struggles when asked to play in space, but he is solid against the run and has good instincts. He forced three fumbles and had six tackles for loss last season. Farrand is the only returning starter at linebacker.

CB Jeremiah Johnson: Johnson (6-0, 190) was a first-time starter as a sophomore last season. Jackson lacks elite speed, but did have 43 tackles and eight pass breakups last season. Johnson is instinctual, athletic and has been praised by coaches for his work ethic.

NT Darius Kilgo: He was a first-time starter as a sophomore last season and did a nice job as a run stuffer. Kilgo (6-3, 310), who is the only returning starter along the line, holds up well at the point of attack and has improved his ability to get into an opposing backfield. He certainly isn't an explosive player, but Kilgo did have five tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks last season.

WR Deon Long: The well-traveled Long (6-1, 180) is a Washington, D.C., native who is on his fourth college. He signed with West Virginia out of high school but never played a down, and moved on to New Mexico to play for then-Lobos coach Mike Locksley. Long had a solid season as a redshirt freshman in 2011, with 47 receptions for 809 yards and four touchdowns. Locksley was fired after that season and became Maryland's offensive coordinator. Long played last season at Iowa Western CC, putting up phenomenal numbers: 100 receptions for 1,625 yards and 25 touchdowns. He went through spring practice at Maryland and will be a junior this fall. He has good speed and should team with Diggs for a nice 1-2 punch. But Long has some work to do to become a more refined receiver.

OT Mike Madaras: He was Diggs' teammate in high school and also made an impact last season. Madaras (6-5, 290) started eight games at left tackle, becoming the first true freshman to start on the offensive line for the Terps since 2009. Madaras had an uneven season as a high school senior, but showed well for the Terps. He has quick feet and understands how to pass block. He needs to gain weight and bulk, but he has ample time to do just that.

OLB Matt Robinson: Shoulder injuries in the each of the past two seasons have cost Robinson (6-4, 230) all but eight games. He has moved from strong safety to outside linebacker this season as a junior, and, if he can stay healthy, coaches expect some big plays. He is rangy and can run. Robinson had 10 tackles last season against Clemson and picked off a pass against Florida State. His size/speed combination will intrigue some teams if he can stay healthy.

Three must-see games of 2013

Oct. 5 at Florida State: Maryland isn't going to be able to hold down FSU's offense, so to keep this one close the Terps need to score a ton of points. That's where Diggs and Long come in. But FSU has the best secondary in the ACC.

Oct. 26 vs. Clemson: This is another game that the Terps would have to win in a shootout, putting some pressure on Diggs and Long. McDougle can garner some attention if he can handle Clemson WR Sammy Watkins.

Nov. 16 at Virginia Tech: The Hokies have a good secondary, meaning this is another test for Diggs and Long. The Hokies always want to run the ball, so Kilgo and Farrand must play well. Madaras vs. Hokies defensive end James Gayle should be a good matchup, too.

Follow Mike Huguenin on Twitter @MikeHuguenin

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