Maryland Preview 2016: D.J. Durkin might bring a turnaround right away.
– 2016 Maryland Preview
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It might not take that much before Maryland can become a real, live, dangerous Big Ten football program under new head coach D.J. Durkin.
Ralph Friedgen proved it’s possible to come up with good seasons in College Park, and the program has gone to six bowl games in the last ten years. That might not seem like much, but it’s not like the Terps were totally miserable until last season.
The quarterback situation was never okay, there were way too many interceptions, the defense fell off the map, and then came the freefall as the season slipped away in a 3-9 disaster.
It wasn’t just that Randy Edsall couldn’t generate the wins last year; it was that his team wasn’t even close, getting blasted in ugly blowouts in six of the nine losses, and playing well overall to even get into games.
The recruiting area is good enough to bring in the talent to eventually build things up to a higher level, but for now, Durkin should be able to come up with a few little tweaks to get the program back on track.
First, the offense has to stop turning the ball over. The wheels came off when Maryland screwed up game after game giving up 36 times. If the offense can at least give the team a shot by not giving the ball away and being far stingier, that should be good enough for at least two extra wins.
The defense that gave up 31 points or more eight times should be far, far better on coaching alone. With Durkin a brilliant former defensive coordinator, and with former Virginia head coach Mike London and former Syracuse head man Scott Shafer helping the cause, that should be enough to overcome the massive personnel changes needing to be overcome.
The horrible secondary needs several new starters and the line has to find a steady rotation, but the linebacking corps is good enough to build around.
The offense has the potential to be night-and-day better with nine returning starters, but the quarterbacks have to be great. The receiving corps is full of veterans, and there’s a good stable of backs working around a line with decent upside.
So how quickly can Durkin turn this around? With Howard, at FIU, at UCF, and Purdue to start the season, Maryland should have more wins than 2015 by October 1st, and they should be just strong enough to get to six wins and a bowl game.
Call that the start in the right direction, and then the sky might be the limit if Durkin really is the great young coach he’s expected to be. He surrounded himself with strong former head coaches, he’s going to get time to build the program up, and very soon, Maryland might not be the Big Ten East’s designated also-ran.