Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Bilo's 2017 College Football Previews: Maryland Terrapins
The Terps showed some major signs of improvement in year one under former Michigan and Jim Harbaugh assistant DJ Durkin, who may be one of the faster rising stars in college football. Of course, they also finished the season rather roughly, losing seven of their last nine games, including a bowl loss to Boston College. Still, getting to a bowl in year one of the Durkin era proved that exciting times may very well be ahead for this program, but only if they can start getting more competitive against the hierarchy of the Big 10. They lost to every team that finished 3rd or above by double digits. Fixing that is the next step in rebuilding Maryland football.
What To Be Excited About: Offense
Maryland returns three full time starters on the line, and a fourth who made three starts last fall. The line could show major improvement across the board this fall. Damian Prince (RT), Brendan Moore (C), and Terrance Davis (RG) all return this fall, and Derwin Gray, who started three games last fall, is the likely LT as we get into fall camp.
Ty Johnson broke the 1000 yard mark at RB last fall, and will return as well. He did so while averaging just 8.46 carries per game. He averaged a whopping 9.13 yards per carry, and scored six times. Lorenzo Harrison also returns after rushing for 633 yards and five scores. He averaged 7.19 yards per carry, and gives the Terps two home run capable backs.
DJ Moore returns at WR, and led the team last fall with 637 yards receiving on 41 receptions. He averaged 15.54 yards per reception, and gives the QB group a downfield threat.
What To Be Concerned About: Offense
The passing game could be in a bit of trouble, even with the return of Moore at WR. There will be a battle at the QB position between two rather inexperienced players in Tyrrell Pigrome, a sophomore, and North Carolina transfer Caleb Henderson. Neither has any real experience to speak of, but Pigrome does have one start under his belt.
At WR, there is another void of returning starting experience, but Jacquille Veii has appeared in 24 games at Maryland, but sat out last season after he transferred back to the program after leaving to play at Towson in FCS football for a short time. Taivon Jacobs is coming back as well after missing all of last season due to injury. He started four games in 2015.
The Terps also have a worry at PK, as Adam Greene returns after hitting just 9/14 FG attempts last season.
What To Be Excited About: Defense
Maryland returns four players on the line that all had starting experience last season, but nobody started all 13 games. Despite that, there were some solid breakout moments. Jessie Aniebonnam is back at DE after finishing with 14 TFLs and Nine sacks. Kingsley Opara is back at NT, and had a very nice season in 2016. He finished with 41 tackles, and 11.5 TFLs. Cavon Walker is back at DT, and was also solid last fall, as he finished with 30 tackles and 8.5 TFLs, providing pressure up the middle. Brett Kulka will be the second starting DT, and started five times last season.
There are three LBs returning to the lineup this season. Jermaine Carter, Shane Cockerille, and Jalen Brooks all return. Carter is a two time All-Big 10 selection, and has startd 25 consecutive games He finished with 110 tackles last fall, and has 23 career TFLs. Cockerille had a huge season in 2016, as he finished with 108 tackles, and added eight TFLs. He averaged nine tackles per game last season. Brooks is a three time All-Big 10 academic selection, and started in four games last fall. He has been very productive over his career, with 100 total tackles during his time with the Terps.
Chandler Burkett is back at the BUCK position, and was quite productive, finishing with 32 tackles, four TFLs, three PBUs, and two blocked PATs on special teams. Ravon Davis started four games at NB last fall, and finished with four PBUs, with 24 tackles. JC Jackson is back at CB, and started 11 games last fall. He finshed with 40 tackles, six PBUs, and a pick. Darnell Savange exceled at Saftey last fall after moving over from CB. He finished with 59 tackles and four INTs.
What To Be Concerned About: Defense
Maryland needs to grow as a unit as a whole. They allowed over 29 points per game last season, and the offense never caught up with that, which was a huge problem the second half of the season and in Big 10 play. The script has got to flip this fall if Maryland is to make a push to get closer to the top three in the division.
The major glaring problem is at Punter, where Wade Lees struggled at times as a freshman last season. He finished by averaging 39.83 yards per punt last fall, and that needs to improve this fall.
2017 Schedule: 9/2 at Texas, 9/9 Towson, 9/23 UCF, 9/30 at Minnesota, 10/7 at Ohio State, 10/14 Northwestern, 10/21 at Wisconsin, 10/28 Indiana, 11/4 at Rutgers, 11/11 Michigan, 11/18 at Michigan State, 11/25 Penn State
Maryland had a long way to go when Durkin took over last fall, and he made major strides in year one. Maryland made a bowl game in year one, and that is a good step, but they have to push a little harder in year two, and so they will work on both sides of the football to get there, because there is still work to do. Maryland started out strong last fall, but really fell off sharply after the midpoint. I don't see that Maryland has enough tools to push into the top three in the East, but they have enough tools to scare some people, and maybe even pull off an upset here and there.