The first three games of the year as always for the Terps are against non-conference opponents who include the Delaware Blue Hens, the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders, and the Golden Bears of California. Now I don’t know about the rest of you but I am pretty happy about this opening three game slate that we have. Fortunately for Maryland we will not be playing against the 6’6’’ behemoth Joe Flacco from Delaware because he entered into the 2008 NFL draft and was taken by the Baltimore Ravens (I still question the pick because I think Troy Smith is their guy). We will also avoid having to contain their monster running back Omar Cuff (398 carries for 1945 yds last season) who has graduated and is currently trying to make an NFL roster.
This game will be pretty exciting because of the close proximity of the two schools and the fact that we have not faced off since 1948. In the all time series, Delaware owns a 5-3-1 record against the Terps, but Maryland has won the last three times. Hopefully the game and the atmosphere will allow both schools to continue to compete against each other. Delaware is a good team that went 11-4 last season and lost in the FCS Championship Game to Appalachian State.
In the second game of the year the Terrapins will face off against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders whose last game against Maryland was in 2006. The Terps defeated the Blue Raiders 24-10 in that game by scoring 17 first half point and adding an insurance TD in the second half. Two key drops by Blue Raider receivers that would have been touchdowns helped propel Maryland to a victory even though Middle Tennessee outgained the Terps in total yards. This is a team that always plays Maryland hard and would love to come away with an upset in College Park.
The last of the opening three games will be at home played against the Golden Bears of California in the first meeting ever between both teams. Cal had a 7-6 record last year despite starting the season ranked in the top #25 and even being ranked as high as 2 behind the eventual National Champions LSU. The Bears have lost key players to their team who include All-American and Heisman hopeful wide receiver DeSean Jackson who has been drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles. They have also lost wide receiver LaVelle Hawkins who was a great number 2 receiver to Jackson and running back Justin Forsett who led the Pac-10 in rushing td’s last year. They do however still retain their gun-slinging QB Nate Longshore who threw for over 2500 yds and 16 Td’s last season. It remains to be seen how well he can produce after losing three offensive studs in Jackson, Hawkins, and Forsett.
This will be an exciting game for both Cal and Maryland who coming off of last year’s seasons, are two teams with a lot to prove. Both teams had talent and showed flashes of greatness but did not capitalize on it for a number of reasons i.e. injuries and inexperience. From last year, Maryland looks to be the stronger team with more of its core players still here. Cal has lost its offensive spark and will need to find a player to step their game up in the way DeSean Jackson did last year.
These first three games look to be exciting tests for the Maryland Terrapins and should be a good indicator of where this team may be in November. My hope is that the Delaware and Middle Tennessee State games will provide us with enough of a lead to put in backups and hopefully give them some valuable game time experience. The better prepared everyone on this team is, the better our outlook for the 2008 season will be.