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For the first time since his decision to attend Maryland, Davin Meggett will headline the Terps backfield. And with Randy Edsall's traditional run-first offense implemented, it may just be a perfect match.
Meggett has turned heads every season in College Park, with his junior season finally a breakout year that many anticipated. Despite splitting carries to a near 50-50 ratio with Da'Rel Scott, Meggett racked up a career-high 731 yards with four touchdowns, averaging 5.7 yards per carry. His eight plays of 20-or-more yards was second on the team only to former wideout Torrey Smith.
Consider this: Meggett not only outproduced Scott, but was most effective in the team's biggest contests.
Against Navy in the team's opener, Meggett averaged over 13 yards per touch, including a 67-yard endzone burst, in a 105-yard effort. In what could be heralded as the team's most meaningful game in the regular season, Meggett ran for 72 yards against Florida State, the No. 29-ranked defense against the pass. Meggett averaged over six yards per carry, more than double the team's season average.
Although Boston College and West Virginia, the No. 1 and No. 2 best defenses against the rush, Meggett failed to post statistics near his season average, it can attributed to the team's tendency to stray away from the run.
"We've got to stop hurting ourselves to give ourselves a chance. The longer yardage you're in, the longer throws you have to make, the longer you have to protect. We're being our own worst enemy," offensive coordinator James Franklin said after falling to Clemson, 31-17. "We're having way too many offsides penalties on first and second downs, so now we get into a situation where it's third-and-long every time."
The Terrapins were penalized 10 times for 93 yards against the Tigers during their mid-October showdown. Overall, they finished 10th in the Atlantic Coast Conference with 102 total penalties, costing the team an average of 68.5 yards per game.
Aside from penalties hurting the down-and-distances, though, consistency in the running game was essential to the team's success. In eight games in which Maryland rushed the ball at least 30 times, the team was 7-1; when the team failed to reach the 30-carry plateau, 2-3.
Now that Edsall is the head coach and Gary Crowton is at the helm of the offense, expect a more consistent dedication to the rushing attack. In four seasons running LSU's offense, the Tigers set team records in rushing touchdowns (35), touchdowns scored (64), points per game (38.6), points in a season (541), total yards (6,152), total plays (1,054) and first downs (316).
Crowton has helped groom NFL backs such as Jacob Hester (San Diego Chargers), Quinn Johnson (Green Bay Packers), Charles Scott (New York Giants) and recent third-round pick Stevan Ridley (New England Patriots).
Last year, Edsall's Huskies finished second only to the Mountaineers in rushing attempts and finished second in the Big East in yards per game (174.7). Connecticut's 20 touchdowns were second to Pittsburgh's 24.
With a more run-friendly scheme implemented, as well as a thin core of running backs behind Meggett on the depth chart and a group of untested wide receivers and no proven tight end threat in the passing attack, Meggett's numbers and overall effectiveness are expected to improve.
Earlier this spring, Edsall named Meggett one of the four team captains for the 2011 season, crediting those four players as ones who are expected to set the bar for their teammates with hard work both on and off the field.
Meggett has played in 38 straight games for the Terrapins, which amounts to every game since arriving on campus. Despite only six career starts prior to this year, Meggett will have the opportunity to move higher in the school record book. Currently 20th in Maryland history in rushing yards (1,515), Meggett could surpass a number of Terps greats with another 700-yard campaign. That would amount to ninth on the career rushing yards list.
Projected to finish on the All-ACC 4th Team by Phil Steele, Meggett was rated the seventh-best back in the ACC by ESPN , a large factor in the No. 6-rated backfield. Meggett is also being scouted as a potential NFL-caliber player in the 2012 Draft. Meggett's father, Dave Meggett, played for three NFL teams, including a five-year stint with the New York Giants.
Without a doubt, Meggett will be one of the key components to the Maryland offense and a catalyst to the success of the season in Edsall's first season. With Orange Bowl aspirations, Meggett will have to propel the eighth-best rushing attack in the conference to a greater gear in 2011. The first opportunity comes Sept. 5 when Maryland hosts ACC foe Miami.