2010: 9-4 (5-3)
Returning starters: 13 (six offense, seven defense)
Preseason All-ACC selections: LB Kenny Tate
Last year's match up: Miami 26 Maryland 20 The Canes, led by Stephen Morris in his first college start, predictably shot themselves in the foot with turnovers early. But Morris hit Leonard Hankerson for a majestic 35-yard touchdown with 37 seconds left to give the Canes the lead.
Offense: With new coach Randy Edsall at the helm, it's still unknown what precisely Maryland's offense will look like. Regardless, the Terps have talent on this side of the ball. Though he had a poor game versus Miami last season, quarterback Danny O' Brien shined as a freshman in 2010, with 22 touchdowns and only 8 interceptions. It would be no surprise to see him named as the All-ACC First Team quarterback at the end of the season. Edsall leaned on his running game at UConn, and we should expect him to do so at Maryland, but the running back corps is a slight mystery as the season opens. Starter Davin Meggett is talented and had a good game against the Canes last year, but the Terps lost second leading rusher Da'rel Scott to graduation and projected back up and short yardage specialist D.J. Adams to suspension. Behind Meggett tonight will be two freshmen.
Defense: The Terps defense was pretty good last season, and this year they'll feature a mix of returning starters and new faces. At corner, Maryland returns two starters in seniors Cameron Chism and Trenton Hughes, although Hughes lost his starting job to talented freshman Jeremiah Johnson. The aforementioned Tate, easily Maryland's most talented defender, slides down from safety to linebacker in what should resemble some sort of hybrid role. Both safeties will be new this year, with one being sophomore Matt Robinson and the other, according to Maryland's preseason depth chart, still undecided. On the defensive line, Maryland boasts one of the best defensive tackles in the conference in 285 pound junior Joe Vellano. In terms of the pass rush, the name here is sophomore David Mackall, who had three sacks last season and may be poised for a breakout year this season.
Match up in Miami's favor: The Canes, as we know, are missing players all over the field, especially on defense. Maybe no position group on the field is more unproven than Miami's corners, comprised of the unproven Brandon McGee, a transfer in Mike Williams who couldn't crack the starting line up at Wake Forest, a converted running back in Lee Chambers and a true freshman in Thomas Finnie. The slight good news here is that Maryland's wide receivers are almost as inexperienced. Torrey Smith, Maryland's Leonard Hankerson in 2010, is gone, as is second leading receiver Adrian Cannon. The starters tonight will be Kevin Dorsey and Quinton McCree, both of whom flashed potential last season but combined for only 31 catches. If Miami's mystery corners can win the battle on the outside tonight, it will make the job of the defense as a whole much easier.
Match up in Maryland's favor: Davin Meggett ran for nine yards a pop versus the Canes last year, and that was with Miami boasting one of the best defensive lines in the whole country. The front seven that Miami will trot out tonight is returning only two starters— LB Ramon Buchanan and DT Micanor Regis— neither of whom are superstars. Replacement starters include senior defensive ends Andrew Smith and Marcus Robinson, senior LB Jordan Futch and JUCO transfer defensive tackle Darius Smith, and that's to go along with new starting linebacker Jimmy Gaines. Maryland will likely try to pound the ball down Miami's throat, and with two situational pass rushers at the ends and a dearth of experience everywhere else, it's quite possible that they will be successful. If the Canes can't stop the run tonight, they might not be able to stop Maryland at all, and then it may get ugly.
Thanks to the invaluable Pre-Snap Read as well as UMD's SBN blog Testudo Times. There will be a game thread posted later.