The Sports Xchange

By Jack McCarthy, The Sports Xchange

Maryland on a learning curve this season

CHICAGO -- Maryland and the Big Ten will quickly find out a lot about each other in their first year together.

Terrapins coach Randy Edsall said he's already initiated a steep learning curve on teams that Maryland has -- for the most part -- rarely, if ever played.

"The biggest challenge is getting to know all the teams that you're going to play in a short amount of time," Edsall said at the Big Ten football media days on Monday. "We have 10 new opponents to prepare for, so the spring and summer were a whirlwind for us from the standpoint of getting to know the teams ... and understanding their schemes and what they like to do."

Maryland went 7-6 overall, 3-5 in its final Atlantic Coast Conference and dropped a 30-21 decision to Marshall in the season-ending Military Bowl. The school joined Rutgers as the Big Ten's newest members on July 1.

Edsall set a direct tone at his introductory appearance.

"We've got to be who we are," the fourth-year Terrapins coach said. "We're not going to change who we are just because we're going into the Big Ten. We've recruited to a philosophy and style we believe in and we're going to continue to do that."

A media poll projects Maryland fifth in the Big Ten East while conference coaches named returning wide receiver Stefon Diggs one of five players to watch in that division.

Diggs made the most of seven games in an injury-plagued 2013 season with 34 receptions for 587 yards and three touchdowns.

Diggs is among the nine returning offensive and defensive starters and two special team players.

Quarterback C.J. Brown returns for a sixth year after earning offensive player and team MVP honors last year while throwing for 2,242 yards and 13 touchdowns.

"Hopefully he has all the injuries (shoulder in 2010 and ACL in 2012) behind him now," Edsall said. "He had a good year last year and we expect big things out of him this year."

Defensive back Jeremiah Johnson is also fully recovered from injuries that cost him 10 games last year. In 2012 he had 43 tackles, including 32 solo.

The Big Ten revamped and renamed its conference divisions and assigned Maryland and Rutgers to the East. Division champs play in the Big Ten championship game on Dec. 6 at Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Stadium.

Maryland opens at home against James Madison on Aug. 30 and makes its Big Ten debut on Sept. 27 at Indiana. The first conference home game comes a week later against Ohio State.

NOTES: Head coach Randy Edsall said his prime recruiting emphasis remains the Maryland/Washington D.C. market, reflected in 33 local athletes among 63 signed since 2012. ... Among new Big Ten foes, Maryland has played Penn State 37 times, the last in 1993. Next is Michigan State with five meetings. ... Edsall said there was no temptation to check on his old conference during last week's ACC media day. "No, I was in St. Thomas and I was enjoying the heck out of it."

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