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West Virginia opponents, Game 3: Maryland

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fifth in a series of previews on West Virginia and Marshall football opponents.

Date with WVU: Saturday, Sept. 13, time TBA

Site: Byrd Stadium (51,802, FieldTurf), College Park, Md.

Series: WVU leads 26-22-2

Last meeting: Maryland defeated WVU, 37-0, on Sept. 21, 2013 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore

Coach: Randy Edsall (4th year, 13-24; 16th year overall, 87-94)

Checking them out

Maryland’s win totals under Randy Edsall have increased each year. That’s the good news. But is slow growth (two wins, then four, then seven) enough to allow Edsall to keep his job?

Well, it might be tough to keep that growth going as the Terps begin play in the Big Ten this season. The non-conference portion of the schedule isn’t especially taxing and league play begins with Indiana and ends with fellow newcomer Rutgers, but the meat of the slate is Ohio State, Iowa, Wisconsin, Penn State, Michigan State and Michigan. It won’t be easy.

Still, there seems little question that Edsall has Maryland headed in the right direction. The Terps have been absolutely ravaged by injuries the last two seasons (playing a freshman linebacker at quarterback in 2012 and losing their two best receivers last year, among a host of others), yet still have improved. If the injury situation improves, this could actually be a pretty good football team.

It starts with 6-foot-3, 210-pound quarterback C.J. Brown, back for his sixth year. If he can stay healthy (a big if) he’s a run-pass threat who has around him plenty of skill weapons. The best of the bunch is certainly receiver Stefon Diggs, who spent his first two seasons being compared to Tavon Austin when he wasn’t hurt. The other wideout who was hurt last year is the well-traveled Deon Long, who began his career at WVU. And all those who filled in after Diggs and Long were hurt also return.

Maryland also might be as deep at running back as West Virginia and the offensive line has five players with starting experience, although that group still needs big improvement.

The defense didn’t have quite the injuries as the offense, but the ones that did occur were significant, namely to both starting cornerbacks. This year, the front seven is absolutely loaded with experience and the back end is deep and experienced with five upperclassmen among the top six players at corner and safety.

The Terps are also experienced and talented in the kicking game. Both punter Nathan Renfro and kicker Brad Craddock return, and Diggs and sophomore CB William Likely are terrific in the return game.

All-conference candidates

Offense: WR Stefon Diggs, WR Deon Long

Defense: LB Cole Ferrand, CB William Likely, LB Matt Robinson, DE Andre Monroe, S Sean Davis

Special teams: K Brad Craddock

Notes

This is the second of two straight home games for Maryland against WVU, which traveled to Baltimore a year ago to play. But then the 2015 and 2016 games are both scheduled in Morgantown. Games against West Virginia have accounted for two of the five largest crowds in Byrd Stadium history, including what remains the largest crowd there since 2005 — 53,107 in 2007. WVU won both of those large-crowd games, the other in 1983 in front of 54,715. That’s not unusual, though, given that the Terps have lost each of the games played in front of the five biggest crowds at the facility (Penn State in 1975, Virginia Tech in 2005 and Alabama in 1974 were the others).

2014 schedule

Date Opponent 2013

Aug. 30 James Madison DNP

Sept. 6 at South Florida DNP

Sept. 13 West Virginia W 37-0

Sept. 20 at Syracuse L 3-20

Sept. 27 at Indiana* DNP

Oct. 4 Ohio State* DNP

Oct. 11 Open

Oct. 18 Iowa* DNP

Oct. 25 at Wisconsin* DNP

Nov. 1 at Penn State* DNP

Nov. 8 Open

Nov. 15 Michigan State* DNP

Nov. 22 at Michigan* DNP

Nov. 29 Rutgers* DNP

* Big Ten Conference games

2013 record: 7-6 overall, 3-5 ACC (lost 20-31 to Marshall in the Military Bowl)

Dropped: Florida International (W 43-10), Old Dominion (W 47-10), Connecticut (W 31-21), Florida State (L 0-63), Virginia (W 27-26), Wake Forest (L 10-34), Clemson (L 27-40), Virginia Tech (W 27-24, OT), Boston College (L 26-29), North Carolina State (W 41-21)


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