Preview 2017: Maryland Terrapins
Previewing and looking ahead at the Maryland Terrapins season – and what you need to know.
What You Need To Know About The Maryland Offense
After starting out with so much promise and so much production, everything fizzled against the better teams in the middle of the season.
The passing game couldn’t find its footing, mainly because the quarterback situation wasn’t settled – again. The ground attack was explosive at times, but it wasn’t consistent for a team that managed 14 points or fewer in five games in seven.
Can the Terps finally find a steady quarterback who can take the job by the horns? There might be a few different options, but everything is on hold until superstar recruit Kasim Hill can show what he can do.
The running back situation is fantastic – with Ty Johnson and Lorenzo Harrison a dangerous tandem, combining to average close to eight yards per pop – while D.J. Moore is a good target who needs to be fantastic for a rebuilding receiving corps.
Can the O line do its job? Three starters are back, along with a good backup in Derwin Gray who can fill in at either tackle spot. Now that line needs to …
Biggest Key To The Maryland Offense
Be better in pass protection. Yeah, the running game was devastating at times, and Ty Johnson tore off 1,000 yards and averaged over nine yards per carry, but the line got the quarterbacks killed, allowing 49 sacks – that’s 24 more than 2015.
Time and again, promising drives were stuffed by key plays on passing downs. Now the veteran offensive front has to give the backfield more time to work.
What You Need To Know About The Maryland Defense
It’s a loaded defense – at least in terms of experience – with ten players back who could be counted as returning starters. Three of the top six tacklers are gone, though, but eight of the top 11 are back along with a bulk of the pass rushing production.
Equally mediocre in both areas, the Terps allowed 215 rushing yards and 212 through the air each game, and now – considering all the veterans back – they have to do something at a high-level to go along with the strong pass rush.
The linebacking corps is a fantastic place to start with Jermaine Carter and Shane Cockerille combining for 218 tackles. It’s quietly going to be among the best groups in the conference, with depth, a rotation, and potential all-stars at all three sport.
There’s decent, Big Ten-level size and athleticism up front in an all-senior starting four to make life easier for the back seven, and there’s tackling ability in the secondary, but …
Biggest Key To The Maryland Defense
Coming up with more picks would be a big plus. There’s no question the pass rush is going to be terrific again – 30 of the 38 sacks from last season return – and now the secondary has to start taking advantage of all the help from the pressure.
The Terps got picked clean at times over the second half of the season, and there weren’t nearly enough big plays to help the cause. Maryland came up with just five interceptions on the season, with one over the final eight regular season games.
Maryland Will Be Far Better If …
The turnovers stop, and yes … you heard this one before. What was the biggest problem in 2015? Turnover margin, going a massive -18 on the year as the team never, ever seemed to be able to stop screwing up. But that was nothing new for a Maryland program that was -34 in turnovers from 2012 to 2015, and a far, far cry from being +15 in 2010.
But that was all supposed to change with the new coaching staff. For a while, it did, going a +5 over the first three games, and then Maryland was Maryland again, going -12 over the final ten games.
This isn’t hard – the Terps were +6 in the six wins, and -13 in the seven losses. Change that, and they’ll be at least two wins better.
Best Maryland Offensive Player
RB Ty Johnson, Jr. – He took over the offense at times last year, starting over the back half of the season and leading the way with 1,004 yards and six scores, averaging a whopping 9.13 yards per carry. He can catch a little, too, with 16 grabs and a score.
Feast or famine, he destroyed Purdue for 204 yards on just seven carries, but followed it up with 11 yards against Penn State. He ran for 115 yards or more in four of the last seven games, but couldn’t crack the 25-yard mark in those other three. Smart, fast, and with 5-10, 205-pound size, he’s got the upside to do even more.
2. WR D.J. Moore, Jr.
3. RB Lorenzo Harrison, Soph.
4. OT Damian Prince, Jr.
5. QB Kasim Hill, Fr.
Best Maryland Defensive Player
LB Jermaine Carter, Sr. – The team’s second-leading tackler behind Shane Cockerille, the 6-0, 235-pounder has been a mainstay for the defense for the last few years as a tackling machine for the front seven.
The leader of the D, he’s the man in the middle, coming up with 106 stops with six sacks and nine tackles for loss, while taking his one interception for a score against FIU. He’s got the range along with the pass rushing ability to do it all for what should be a solid linebacking corps.
2. LB Shane Cockerille, Sr.
3. DE Jesse Aniebonam, Sr.
4. DT Kingsley Opara, Sr.
5. S Darnell Savage, Jr.
Key Player To A Successful Season
QB Kasim Hill, Fr. – There might be plenty of options for the quarterbacking gig, but it’s been aß revolving door over the years. Four different quarterbacks saw significant time last season – there hasn’t been a rock-solid No. 1 option for almost a decade.
This year, Caleb Henderson had a good spring, Max Bortenschlager is a big option, and Tyrrell Pigrome is a dangerous second-year man who ran well last season. But the hope is coming from the recruiting class.
The star of a terrific haul for Maryland this recruiting season, the 6-2, 230-pound Hill has the look and skill to be the top guy who leads the program for the next few years – and he’s expected to get a shot right away. Wanted by the Big Ten big boys, he’s mobile with a next-level arm. The QB situation won’t be settled until he can show what he can do this August.
The Maryland Season Will Be A Success If …
It’s another bowl season. There’s a building process happening with bigger things coming in a few years after the excellent recruiting classes mature. Get to at least six wins and a bowl appearance – beat Towson, UCF, and Indiana at home and Rutgers on the road for he base – and all will be fine in the progression.
Key Game To The Maryland Season
Sept. 30 at Minnesota How much better will the Terps be in Big Ten play? After losing 31-10 last year, Minnesota is an early measuring-stick game to see if there’s any real improvement.
It’s an interdivisional battle on the road, but it’s a winnable one to open up conference action. If all goes well, Maryland is at least 2-1 to start the season, with a win in Minneapolis making it a fantastic start before having to go to Ohio State. With Northwestern after that, and a trip to Wisconsin to follow, 0-4 in the Big Ten is more than possible with a loss to the Gophers.
2016 Maryland Fun Stats
– Interceptions Thrown: Maryland 9 – Opponents 5
– Time of Possession: Opponents 32:13 – Maryland 27:47
– Maryland 2nd Quarter Scoring: 113 – Maryland 3rd Quarter Scoring: 55