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1) The Vegas lines are already favoring Cal by 21 for the opener. Thoughts? Too high? Not nearly high enough?
This is a difficult question to answer. From a Vegas point of view I guess it seems about right if you completely detach yourself from the situation and have no vested interest or real knowledge about the teams. Of course, lines are established to elicit betting and are not a real estimation of outcomes. Now, considering I'm a Maryland blogger and an alum, I don't think Cal is 21 points better than Maryland. Yes, the Terps lost a lot of talent from last year but you can never know with this team. During Ralph Freidgen's tenure, the Terps have found a way to beat teams they were supposed to lose to and lost to teams they were supposed to beat. Last season was a perfect example of how up and down the team can be. Early season matchups prove this especially. Beating Cal was a little surprising to some. Losing to Northern Illinois in 2003 and Middle Tennessee State last year prove you never know which team will show up. Ultimately I think Cal wins but not by 21.
2) On offense, Maryland has lost its biggest playmaker in 1st round draft pick Darius Heyward-Bey (eternally doomed to the hell that is the Raiders franchise), a number of veteran offensive linemen, but do return a senior QB in Chris Turner and RB Da’Rel Scott. Honestly, what do you hope to put up against Cal, which features one of the better defenses in the country?
Without really getting a feel for this year's team yet, I can see them putting up 14 or 21 points. I'm basing this of off last year's 35 points against Cal. Given that Turner and Scott are back, and there is some depth at receiver, Maryland could put up 35 again and I wouldn't be surprised. With Friedgen at the helm Maryland has made a habit of beating teams no one expected it to.
3) Who is the top player on offense and defense the Bears should be concerned with come the season opener?
Heyward-Bey is gone so Cal just key in on him so that would leave Turner as the one player Cal should be most concerned with. There will be some uncertainty as to where the ball will be going on each play because of the depth at wide receiver so the defense should be prepared for the run or the pass on every snap. Also, don't overlook Torrey Smith as a returner. On defense, Alex Wujciak is the latest standout linebacker to play in College Park and he is definitely the best defender this year.
4) Who is one player on offense and defense from Cal that you could choose to suit up for the Terrapins for the opener?
The only Cal player I am really familiar with is Javid Best and he is pretty much all I need to know. Kevin Barnes is with the Redskins this year so Best doesn't have to worry about throwing up on the field again. I'm confident in Da'Rel Scott as the starting tailback but having him and Best in the same backfield would be great to watch.
5) What is one aspect of the team or a specific player that you think is flying uner Cal’s radar? That is, is there one thing or person that we should be a bit more worried about?
I go back to Torrey Smith as being the most under the radar player. The sophomore set the ACC record for return yards in a season with 1,089 and is fifth in school history with that mark now. He is speedy and will be dangerous as a receiver and on special teams. Of course it is not like no one has heard of Smith but I imagine Cal would be more worried with Turner and Scott.
6) Your predictions on the score?
My prediction is 28-14 with Cal coming out on top. I don't see any field goals coming here. Of course, Maryland could win 31-28 and I wouldn't be surprised. Only one touchdown went to Heyward-Bey last year so I believe Maryland could still get good production from its team this year. For a win to happen, Scott will probably have to carry the load.
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