MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — For some perspective on the Maryland team West Virginia will face Saturday, MetroNews talked with Dave Lomonico of Terrapin Times. He believes in the future of Randy Edsall, likes the Terps’ defense and is fine with Maryland shifting this week’s game to The Stadium Trent Dilfer Built. Our interview:
Moving this game to Baltimore versus staging it in College Park: Are the Terrapins sacrificing some on-campus atmosphere and some home-field advantage?
Lomonico: Not really. Terps fans showed out well the last time Maryland played at M&T Bank, facing Navy before some 60,000 fans, and I expect more of the same this time around. The atmosphere will still be charged, and there are plenty of Maryland fans in the Baltimore area. It’s not a large state, so those from the College Park area won’t have far to go to make it to Baltimore. Fans will still be able to tailgate outside of M&T Bank Stadium. The only thing the Terps might lose is some student presence, but they should make up for it with other fans they will gain by playing in the Baltimore area. And, as always, the program is trying to engage the city of Baltimore and its residents more and more, so this is a natural venue.
This feels like a must-win season for Edsall, who’s in the third year of a six-year deal and sporting a 9-18 record. Does his fate hinge on Maryland at least making a bowl game this season?
Lomonico: After the last two seasons, starting 4-0 this week would do a good bit more for the confidence of fans and recruits, while getting to six wins and a bowl is very possible and likely with this group. They would have reached a bowl last year if not for the devastating QB injuries. Taking into consideration the positives Edsall has brought to the program—high-character recruits, discipline, an emphasis on academics, etc.—and this year’s fast start, no one is talking about him on the hot seat or his fate right now with the postseason very attainable.
Additionally, Maryland is poised to land several more elite recruits if the season continues on this trend, after adding four-star defensive end Jesse Aniebonam last month, and now prospects like Jalen Tabor, Damian Prince, Juwann Winfree and others possibly next.
Given the final woes of the athletic department, Edsall’s buyout check might bounce anyway, right? How much of a bind has the ACC created by withholding league revenues?
Lomonico: All those things are still working themselves out in court, and there has been no talk of any Edsall buyout with three years left on his contract, and the program seemingly headed in the right direction.
Speaking of this bon-voyage season, how nasty a sendoff are the Terps expecting in their final ACC roundabout? And what has Maryland fans most excited about moving to the Big Ten?
Lomonico: I am sure it will not be pretty, and already some subtle things and slights have crept into the mix. But it was to be expected, and right now I am sure the Terps are looking ahead to July of 2014 and not dwelling on any short-term inconveniences. But they did have two ACC Players of the Week this week, so it can’t be all that bad! But yeah, fan reaction and what not in their final season of road games will be ugly at times I am sure.
We know about the fantastic duo of Stefon Diggs and Deon Long on the offensive side, but who are a few defensive guys who could be disruptive Saturday?
Lomonico: There are plenty of defensive players who have done well this season. Up front, Marcus Whitfield has been a terror creating pressure on opposing QBs and has come into his own as a three-down defender. Nose tackle Darius Kilgo is a pure plugger who eats up multiple blockers and frees up the linebackers. Cole Farrand anchors the linebackers and is as solid as they come tackling and limiting yards after contact. Former walk-on linebacker Yannik Cudjoe-Virgil has become a tackling machine, while Matt Robinson has made a smooth transition from safety to linebacker. On the back end, Maryland lost its top two cover corners, JJ Johnson and Dexter McDougle, who was playing extremely well, but backups Isaac Goins and Will Likely are no slouches. In fact, both of them had played well enough in nickel and dime defenses to start on many squads. Lastly, safety Anthony Nixon is a steady, solid performer who does his job and rarely gets beat deep.