ACC Week 1 preview
There's one lasting image of Maryland's kicking game from the 2012 football season.
That's kicker Brad Craddock, then a freshman, sprawled out on the field at Byrd Stadium with his hands on his helmet, stunned and in disbelief after his 33-yard field goal attempt for the win doinked off the left upright against N.C. State on Oct. 20.
Craddock lay there as the Wolfpack rushed off the field in celebration of their 20-18 victory and the momentum of Maryland's two-game winning streak promptly stopped, followed by five other losses to end the season.
This season, there is clarity and consistency. Then there is not. Then there is, which ultimately, one could reasonably conclude, means there's actually no consistency at all.
Like that old used two-door hatchback you bought from the shady dealership down the street with your first paycheck fresh out of college, sometimes the engine will roar when you turn the key, while other times there will be only a few sputters before you realized you'd likely be late for work.
That's Maryland kicking game.
Here's coach Randy Edsall on Aug. 5:
“[The kicking game] was very inconsistent," he said. "Brad started off really well and all of a sudden he got into a rut."
Then on Aug. 9, when he posited that perhaps an outside force was to blame:
"We were inconsistent today," he said. "It’s just a matter of getting them to come out here and all of a sudden there’s wind, a little sunny out, might be a young lady in a bikini over there or something. They get distracted too easily."
But that old two-door was roaring on Aug. 15.
"I thought Brad had a really good day today," Edsall said. "He was really good last night when he kicked. I think he’s back in the groove..I think Brad’s the guy."
Not so fast, just five days later on Aug. 20:
"He’s been like a tease to us a little bit," Edsall said. "He comes out here and one day he’s not as you’d like and then he comes out the next day and hits everything, and it’s like, that wasn’t the same guy as the day before."
So where does it stand, heading into Week 1 against Florida International?
"I think we’re...getting more consistency out of Brad with the field goals," Edsall said on Tuesday. "It’s a team that’s going to get better every time that we practice and every time that we play."
Craddock and the Terps' kicking game may not be an issue on Saturday, as it was on that Saturday night in October against N.C. State, because Maryland is favored by 22.5 points against FIU.
But having been picked to finish fifth in their division in the ACC in the preseason, close games could mean the difference between the first bowl berth in the Randy Edsall era and a finish similar to last season.
The sophomore, Craddock, is listed as the starter for Saturday on Maryland's two-deep depth chart, with freshman Adam Greene as the backup.
Maryland kicks off against Florida International on Saturday, Aug. 31 at 12:30 p.m. The game will air in high definition on Comcast SportsNet.