At long last, college football season is here.
Almost. Sort of.
Conference media days are underway, with the SEC providing some entertainment in the latter half of this week. The ACC, which will gather its scribes on Sunday and Monday in Greensboro, is among the leagues that will soon take their respective turns.
With that in mind, here's seven Maryland subplots coach Ralph Friedgen, wideout Torrey Smith and linebacker Alex Wujciak might hear about from the assembled media horde
1. Is this Friedgen's last trip to this event? It's the question that will hover over the entire season for the Terrapins, and it will be much more pronounced than in the past.
Some wondered why Friedgen didn't face more pressure earlier. But between a hefty contract and the absence of a dreadful season during his tenure, it really was a non-issue.
Not anymore. Just one year at roughly $2 million remains after this season, and last year's 2-10 experience remains fresh in everyone's minds.
Friedgen likes to mention how no one came to his table during his first ACC Kickoff nine years ago. He might not be saddened if this event goes the same way, given the tenor of some of the questions sure to come.
2. What was last year's impact? This will be the out-of-towners' question for the likes of Smith and Wujciak, who are among the most notable players returning from the first 10-loss team in school history.
They'll say the right things, but last fall's stumbles will be invoked repeatedly until Maryland can demonstrate it moved past them. It might not be a thrilling Q&A session, but that figures to be the general thrust of storylines from writers who see the Terps once or twice a year.
3. Who's game for a quarterback competition? It will be interesting to see how Friedgen goes about discussing his situation under center. Only one QB in the program played last season at the college level (Jamarr Robinson), but Danny O'Brien caught the eye of coaches from almost the moment he arrived.
So how safe is Robinson's status? He's probably the favorite to get the nod in the opener against Navy, but who knows how a guy will fare as a full-time starter. Friedgen's choice of words will be dissected for the next couple weeks, so that's something to look forward to on Monday.
4. Is the defense better? Wujciak will no doubt get a few questions about entering year two in defensive coordinator Don Brown's scheme. The natural answer is to say things will be better, because no one wants to sound like a pessimist.
In reality, the Terps should be better defensively. They return their three starting linebackers, and the defensive line has plenty of young guys who played more than anticipated last season. Cornerback could be the X factor for Maryland, and whether those guys can develop quickly enough is going to be an unknown entering camp.
5. Is the offensive line better? It'll only dictate the course of the season. No biggie. There's also three sophomore expected to start, which in general terms isn't always a sign of immediate prosperity.
Friedgen, a former offensive line coach, doesn't need to be reminded about the position's importance. But after last year's struggles up front, it's a topic he's sure to hear about.
6. Can Torrey Smith make a run at the NCAA kickoff return record --- as a junior? Why not? He only needs a little more than 700 yards to pass the current record-holder, and he's rolled up more than 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons.
Between his receiving and return work, Smith is one of the conference's more electrifying players. Whether that can translate into some extra attention in spite of Maryland's problems last year remains to be seen.
7. Who isn't along for the ride? Since spring ball, Maryland has lost three players to academics (Caleb Porzel, Lamar Young and Javarie Johnson), a drip-drip-drip of bad news that has ever-so-slightly eroded the Terps' roster.
By now, Friedgen usually has a decent idea who else might not be sticking around for much longer --- or not arriving on time. With the Terps already down to 85 scholarship players, every loss from now to the beginning of the season will further eat into Maryland's shrinking depth.