Scott Garceau: Local College Football Preview
The Terps move to The Big Ten after a 7-6 (3-5 ACC) season that ended with a 31-20 loss to Marshall in the Military Bowl. This should be Randy Edsall’s most talented team, but can they survive a nasty Big Ten schedule and the physical demands that go with it. Quarterback C. J. Brown leads a talented offense; the 5th year senior completed 59% of his passes last year throwing for 13 touchdowns with only 7 interceptions. Brown is a big threat on the ground last season he rushed for over 700 yards and 12 TD’s.
Maryland’s receivers rank among the best in the conference. Stefon Diggs is one of the most exciting players in the nation and appears to be fully recovered from the broken fibula he suffered last year. Starting with Saturday’s opener against James Madison it’s vital the Terps get off to a fast start. The first 5 games, including their Big Ten debut September 27th at Indiana, are winnable after that it’s welcome to The Big Ten newbies. Starting October 4th how about this 6-pack of fun.
Oct 4- H- Ohio St.
Oct 18- H- Iowa
Oct 25- A- Wisconsin
Nov 1- A- Penn St.
Nov 15- H- Michigan St.
Nov 22- A- Michigan
If they’re still standing after that they finish at home with Rutgers. The Terps look like a better team in 2014, they’ll have to be to match up with the best of The Big Ten.
The Midshipmen kick-off their season Saturday in Baltimore facing 5th ranked Ohio State. Navy is coming off a 9-4 season that ended with a 24-6 win over Middle Tennessee in the Armed Forces Bowl, the 2013 season included a tough 38-34 loss at Notre Dame.
Navy returns eight starters on offense and seven on defense. They have a legit star in quarterback Keenan Reynolds. The junior from Tennessee has been named one of the top 25 players in the nation, last year he rushed for 1,346 yards and 31 TDs (NCAA record for QB’s) and had six games with at least 100 yards rushing, including two 200-yard games.
Ken Niumatalolo is entering his seventh season as Navy’s head coach. His Navy teams have gone 49-30 (.620) and he stands third all-time at Navy in career wins. Navy schedule highlights include at Air Force October 4, Notre Dame at FedExField November 1, and the traditional battle with Army, December 13 in Baltimore.
The Tigers are coming off their most storied season in school history. Coach Rob Ambrose’s 2013 version won a school record 13 games including 3 playoff games to advance to the FCS national title game. That’s the good news; the bad news 8 starters from last year’s powerhouse offense are gone including all-world back Terrence West who now does his running for the Cleveland Browns.
Next man up in the run game looks like Sophomore Darius Victor, the 2013 CAA Offensive Rookie of the Year, rushed 98 times for 629 yards and seven touchdowns as a freshman. Connor Frazier takes over at QB for the Tigers, he came off the bench to help Towson win a playoff game at Eastern Washington.
Rob Ambrose has built a solid foundation at Towson despite all the graduation losses the Tigers are ranked No. 7 in the national preseason FCS Coaches’ poll. They open Saturday night at home against Central Connecticut then travel to West Virginia.
The Bears open their season Saturday at Eastern Michigan. Lee Hull a former Maryland assistant takes over as head coach. As wide receivers coach at Maryland Hull helped develop Ravens top receiver Torrey Smith. Morgan State returns 17 starters from a 5-7 season, but all 5 wins came in the MEAC Conference good for a 3rd place finish.
The all-time winningest coach in Hopkins football history, Jim Margraff is entering his 25th season as head coach at The Hop, and my guess is he’ll have another fine football team. The Blue Jays are the pre-season favorites to win their sixth straight Centennial Conference title. In 2013 Hopkins spent the season ranked among the nation’s top 15 teams; they finished with a 10-1 record and set a school record averaging 40.5 points a game. The tradition of excellence should continue in ’14. They open September 6, at home with Randolph Macon.
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