Maryland determined to prove it can be on equal footing in Big Ten

Matt Charboneau
The Detroit News

Randy Edsall has been through this before, but he does admit, making the move from the ACC to the Big Ten comes with its share of challenges.

And as the coach at Maryland, he’ll be overseeing it all as the Terrapins begin their first season in their new conference home.

“We have new opponents that we have to prepare for,” he said. “So the spring and the summer has been a whirlwind for us as coaches from the standpoint of getting to know the teams here in the Big Ten that we’re going to be going against and understanding their personnel, understanding their schemes and what they like to do.”

It’s the same thing Rutgers is going through as both teams join this season to bring the Big Ten to 14 teams.

Edsall referenced his time at Connecticut and making the move from Division I-AA to playing at the highest level and eventually in the Big East. The difference in this move is he has a team that has the potential to be competitive right out of the gate.

The Terrapins struggled to a 7-6 mark last season that ended with a loss to Marshall in the Military Bowl. But injuries were more the story after the team started the season 4-0. An ugly 63-0 loss to Florida State followed and things spiraled from there.

All-American wide receiver Stefon Diggs was the biggest loss, but the upside to the injuries is all of the experienced talent back for this year, especially on offense. Diggs is joined by equally talented receiver Deon Long, providing two outstanding targets for quarterback C.J. Brown.

Brown is in his sixth season, and while not a superstar, he is a dual-threat that has been steady enough to lead a potentially potent offense. In 2013, he threw for 2,242 yards and 13 touchdowns while becoming the first Maryland quarterback to throw for more than 2,000 yards and run for 500 in a season.

“We expect big things out of him this year as we look forward to this season,” Edsall said of Brown.

Defensively, there are plenty of playmakers around, especially at end, where senior Andre Monroe is back after recording 42 tackles and 9.5 sacks last season, and junior Quinton Jefferson had 47 tackles, including 7.5. And while the Terrapins likely will count on some true freshmen to contribute in the secondary, there are solid starters, including Will Likely at corner and Sean Davis at safety.

Depth will be the key for the Terrapins, as it was last season. But if they’re healthy, they will have a shot to make some noise in the East.

It won’t be an easy task either way considering the schedule the Terrapins face. Ohio State, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Iowa all are up and will put Maryland through quite a first-year test.

But the Terrapins are convinced they’ll be a factor this season and beyond.

“We want to make noise,” Brown said. “We want to go out there and win and compete and make Maryland even more relevant than it already is -- and show that we do belong.”

About Maryland

Main campus: College Park, Maryland.

Undergraduate enrollment: 25,000.

Total enrollment: 35,000.

Colors: Red, white, black, gold.

Motto: None.

Endowment: $875 million.

Famous alums: Muppets creator Jim Henson, ESPN baseball reporter Tim Kurkjian, Under Armour founder Kevin Plank.

Nickname: Terrapins.

Mascot: Testudo the terrapin.

Sports teams: Eight men’s teams, 11 women’s teams.