As the college football season gears up, many Northeast eyes turn to Maryland’s National Collegiate Athletic Association Football (NCAAF) programs. The state, known for its rich sports tradition, houses several formidable teams that compete fiercely on the gridiron. These programs work diligently to recruit top talent, develop innovative strategies, and cultivate a winning culture every year. Let’s look at the top contenders and what we can anticipate from them this season.
Colloquially known as the “Terps,” the Maryland program seems to be moving in the right direction. Their 15 combined wins over the last two seasons are the most since 2002-03, and their eight wins in 2022 were the most since 2010. After ending the season on a positive note by winning the Mayo Bowl, the Terrapins believe they can go toe-to-toe with the likes of Ohio State and Michigan.
The challenge comes with the influx of new and inexperienced talent. Only five starters from 2022 return, and they will also have to replace quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa. But unlike previous years, Maryland ranked well in recruiting, and the coaching staff feels they have the talent to go toe-to-toe with the top teams in the Big 10 and potentially challenge for the title.
The Midshipmen’s goal is to find the form that saw them go to 15 bowl games in 17 seasons from 2003 to 2019, including eight bowl wins. During that stretch, they emerged triumphant, winning the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy 11 times, signifying their dominance over Army and Air Force. During Ken Niumatalolo’s first 10 years as head coach, the Mids had nine winning seasons, including upset victories over Notre Dame in 2009, 2010, and 2016.
But since their 11-win season in 2019, things have turned south for Navy. They’ve won just 11 games combined since 2020 and fired Niumatalolo after the 2022 season. Their run against Army has also turned; after winning 14 in a row against their biggest rival, they’ve now lost five of the last seven.
But Navy has plans to turn it all around and will start a new era in 2023 behind head coach Brian Newberry, who coached under Niumatalolo as defensive coordinator. Newberry faces a monstrous challenge immediately, facing Notre Dame in Ireland to kick off the season on Aug. 26. This season could see some growing pains as the team tries to transition from Niumatalolo, including adding wrinkles to the infamous triple-option attack that Navy has had for years.
The Tigers’ most significant achievement in Division I football came in 2011. That year, the Tigers clinched the CAA Championship with a commendable conference record of 7-1, making NCAA history as the first team to participate in the playoffs at all three levels of competition (DI, DII, and DIII).
Following the 2011 season, Head Coach Rob Ambrose received the prestigious Eddie Robinson Award, honoring him as the top coach in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision. At the same time, exceptional freshman running back Terrance West was honored as the most outstanding player in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision by being presented with the first-ever Jerry Rice Award. Then, in 2013, the Tigers made it all the way to the FCS National Championship, where they lost to North Dakota State.
Since their 10-3 season in 2013, however, the Tigers have had just two winning seasons. They are looking to return to their winning ways in 2023. With a team that blends experienced leadership with fresh talent, they are expected to make significant waves in the NCAAF spreads.
The complexity of football is not limited to the action visible on the field. Behind the scenes, the coaching staff plays an intricate game of chess, formulating and implementing strategies that can potentially determine the outcome of a game. For each of the top Maryland NCAAF contenders, unique strategies are crafted based on their respective strengths, weaknesses, and the characteristics of their opponents.
The Terps’ coaching staff utilizes their athletes’ versatility, employing a balanced approach between offensive and defensive plays. Their strategy is all about flexibility, adapting to the ever-changing dynamics on the field to outmaneuver their rivals.
The Midshipmen are renowned for their disciplined approach, which reflects their military education. Their strategies typically involve methodical execution of their triple option plays and maintaining a solid defensive line that is tough to breach. Resilience is their mantra, and their game plan often involves wearing down their opponents.
Lastly, the Tigers thrive on unpredictability. Their coaching strategy often involves a mix of traditional plays and innovative schemes designed to keep their opponents guessing. The goal is to disrupt the rhythm of the opposing team and capitalize on moments of surprise.
These strategies are not static but dynamic, evolving with every game, every quarter, and every down. This unseen chess match played behind the scenes, is as integral to the sport as the athletes themselves. As the season unfolds, the success of these strategies will play a crucial role in determining which team has the right combination of physical prowess and strategic genius to emerge victorious.
In the captivating world of NCAAF, it’s the athletes who command the spotlight. Let’s turn our attention to the rising stars from Maryland’s football scene who are poised to make headlines this season.
Leading the charge for the Terrapins is redshirt junior Delmar Glaze. After starting all 13 games last season, Glaze carries the weight of being the team’s most NFL-ready blocker. Standing at an impressive 6-foot-5 and weighing 328 pounds, Glaze offers the size and strength needed in a true Big Ten offensive lineman. With 27 games under his belt, Glaze looks set to anchor the Terrapins’ line this season.
The Terps’ backfield, led by Roman Hemby, is another exciting area to watch. Hemby, on the cusp of a 1,000-yard campaign last season, and his team contributed to Maryland’s average of over 141 rushing yards per game last season, ranking seventh in the Big Ten. With an additional year of experience, Hemby and the backfield are primed for a standout season.
As we cast our gaze forward, the Maryland NCAAF season promises to be a thrilling showcase of football characterized by fierce competition, compelling narratives, and unparalleled sportsmanship. Whether it’s the Terrapins’ quest to win the Big 10, the Midshipmen’s demonstration of unwavering resilience, or the Tigers’ potential to return to their winning ways, every game is a new chapter in an unfolding story.