Maryland and Rutgers will bring along a lot of familiar faces when
they enter the Big Ten this fall. The hard part will be getting to know
their new opponents.
The Terrapins return 18 starters, nine on each side of the ball, from
the team that finished fifth in its division in its last year in the
Atlantic Coast Conference.
The experience is a big advantage for Maryland, coach Randy Edsall
said. "We fully expect to be able to compete as we come into the Big
Rutgers, which tied for sixth in its one year in the American
Athletic Conference, has nine starters back on offense and seven on
Scarlet Knights coach Kyle Flood, like Edsall, is confident his team
can hold up in the Big Ten. He'll know for sure after a mid-season
stretch of games against Michigan at home, Ohio State and Nebraska on
the road and Wisconsin at home.
Maryland winds up spring practice Friday and Rutgers on April 26. The
next task for Edsall and Flood will be to study opponents they'll
encounter for the first time.
Edsall said he and his staff already have started breaking down video
of Big Ten teams. Flood said he'll start that project in in May, a
month earlier than he typically delves into opponents.
Flood said he already knows one thing about the Big Ten. "It's going to be physical. That's for sure."
A look around the Big Ten East:
INDIANA: The Hoosiers' top priority is shoring up a defense that
allowed 528 yards and 39 points a game. Brian Knorr takes over as
coordinator after holding the same job at Wake Forest the past three
seasons. He inherits nine starters. Coach Kevin Wilson said Knorr has
been trying to instill a "culture of competitiveness" among his charges,
and progress has been apparent this spring.
MARYLAND: The move to the Big Ten might cause a little friction in
C.J. Brown's family the week of the Nov. 15 game against Michigan State.
Brown, the first QB to throw for 2,000 yards and run for 500 at
Maryland, is the son of Clark Brown, who quarterbacked the Spartans in
1983-84. "He's a Spartan fan," C.J. said. "When we play them, I expect
him to be in red, and he'll be cheering us on." C.J. will be a
sixth-year senior. He received a medical hardship for an ACL tear in
MICHIGAN: After last year's 7-6 campaign, all eyes are on the offense
and new coordinator Doug Nussmeier. The Wolverines struggled to move
the ball while losing six of their last eight games, and they were no
juggernaut in last week's spring game. Coach Brady Hoke said if the
season started tomorrow, incumbent Devin Gardner would be the QB. But
Shane Morris was good enough to carry the competition over to the fall.
MICHIGAN STATE: The Big Ten champion Spartans are looking for more
from QB Connor Cook, who was second-team All-Big Ten and the Rose Bowl
offensive MVP in his first year as the starter. Coach Mark Dantonio said
Cook has had an "outstanding" spring and is looking to become more
productive as a runner. The Spartans also return 1,400-yard rusher
Jeremy Langford, four of the top five receivers and five starters from
the Big Ten's top defense.
OHIO STATE: QB Braxton Miller led an offense that set a Big Ten
rushing record, and he'll be going into his fourth year as the starter.
Coach Urban Meyer's biggest worry is protecting Miller. Only one starter
returns on the offensive line, and the unit didn't impress Meyer this
spring. "We've had the luxury of having a very good offensive line the
last two years, and you hope some guys step up and get better," he said.
"We've got two guys playing offensive line and you need five. That's an
area we aren't where we need to be."
PENN STATE: Allen Robinson is gone after accounting for almost a
quarter of the Nittany Lions' offense in 2013. His departure should give
6-foot-1, 200-pound Geno Lewis a chance to become a prime target for QB
Christian Hackenberg. First-year coach James Franklin said he's been
impressed with Lewis' leaping ability this spring, especially on deep
balls. "Him and Hackenberg are building a rapport and chemistry with
each other, and that's going to have to continue to grow," Franklin
RUTGERS: First-year offensive coordinator Ralph Friedgen is sorting
out a red-hot QB competition, with Mike Bimonte and Chris Laviano
challenging Gary Nova. Nova was benched the last three games last season
after starting 23 in a row. Eleven players are out this spring because
of injury, including top running back Paul James.