By Zach Lutz | @zachlutz6
Since arriving in the Big Ten in 2014, saying it’s been an uphill battle for Maryland is an overstatement. Going into 2017, the Terps had realistic hopes of improving on a season where they finished 7-6 after a bowl victory, however, injuries cleaned out their entire QB rotation and the team struggled down the stretch to do much of anything. High hopes for growth and improvement returned to College Park this summer as QB’s Kasim Hill and Tyrone Pigrome grew healthy, but just weeks before the season kicks off, Maryland football is turned on its head once again. This time it’s not an injury but a death of a player and an investigation into the culture of the Maryland football program. With HC D.J. Durkin currently placed on administrative leave, any sort of positive expectations for this team’s performance could be squandered.
However, we must consider the positives and what the Terps are still capable of achieving. It is possible that journeyman interim HC and OC Matt Canada can turn the tide of the alleged “abusive” and “toxic” culture. From a pure football standpoint, Kasim Hill is healthy and ready to translate his projected talent into a full season’s worth at QB, their speedy leading rusher over the past few seasons in Ty Johnson is back, and they return an entire offensive line that can only improve. The O-line is a low point, but it should be fun watching Hill and Johnson doing their thing without a whole lot of help. Senior WR Tavion Jacobs will need to step up in a big way for Hill to establish any sort of threat through the air.
On defense, the Terps will welcome heavy contributions from transfers such as DE Byron Cowart, LB Tre Watson, and CB Marcus Lewis. S Antoine Brooks is considered the star player on this defense and he will fly around the field in a variety of positions doing what he can to get stops. Overall, the defense has more talent than last year and should be improved from arguably the worst defense in the conference.
On offense, the Terps must create the big play, on defense, limit the big plays. On offense, convert more third downs, on defense, get stops on third downs.
Unfortunately, Maryland will have Texas as a non-conference foe and the annual four beasts in the East. Expect to pencil in 5 losses with definite room for more. If Maryland gets 6 wins in this environment, they will have achieved a truly successful season.