By week 3 of the 2017 season the Maryland Terrapins had lost both their first and second string QBs. In fact, the injury bug has been so bad for head coach DJ Durkin that he has had 7 different QBs at the helm of the offense in the last 2 years. Fortunately, the tide seems to be turning, as Maryland will be heading into the 2018 season with what seems like their “healthiest” team they have had in a long time.
The Terrapins kicked off the 2017 season with a bang as they beat Texas in a 51-41 thriller on the Longhorns’ home turf. They followed that up with a 63-17 blowout over FCS opponent Towson, and expectations were sky high. However, it was all downhill from that point. The only two wins for the remainder of the year were against bowl-less teams Minnesota and Indiana, both of which were at the bottom of the barrel in the B1G last season. Despite the disappointing collapse, it seems that the 1st 2 games are a better indication as to where DJ Durkin is steering the program. With two Top 30 finishes in recruiting in the 2016 and 2017 classes, the coaching staff is beginning to reel in the talent that they need to succeed.
With Matt Canada joining the Terrapins coaching staff as their new offensive coordinator, Maryland’s offense will look brand spankin’ new. It seems that Canada might have been dropped into the perfect situation to succeed, as the returning talent could play into his pro-style schemes perfectly. Maryland has one of the deepest offensive lines in the B1G this year. The OL is headlined by all-conference tackle Derwin Gray, and the others aren’t far behind. These lineman will pave the way for RBs Ty Johnson and Lorenzo Harrison. Both combined for about 1,500 yards rushing last season, and they will be looking to build off that. Also, RB Anthony McFarland will be looking to make a name for himself after being out with the injury bug all last season. McFarland was a Top 100 recruit in the 2017 recruiting class and #3 RB in the nation.
Although QB Kasim Hill may not have former Terrapin & current New York Giants’ WR DJ Moore to throw to, the running game will certainly help him in his success. Look for Taivon Jacobs, DJ Turner, and Rashad Lewis to fill the big shoes that Moore has left at the WR position. Also, with the implementation of the pro-style offense, the Terrapins will be looking for the TE more. This could be a recipe for disaster for opposing defenses, as senior TE Avery Edwards is ready to go. Edwards is a 6’4″ 240 pound tight end that has excellent hands. He will be one heck of a match-up to account for.
At this point it seems sophomore Kasim Hill will be the man getting the nod at the QB position. Hill is the more polished passer and will fit in perfectly in the new scheme. Kasim was a highly touted recruit and was Gatorade Player of the Year for Washington DC in 2017. Look for OC Matt Canada to draw up some packages that include backup QB Tyrrell Pigrome as well. Pigrome is absolutely dangerous with the ball in his hands. In fact, he could be the most athletic QB on the team. Barring the injury bug doesn’t strike as it has the past two years, the Terrapins look good at the QB position for 2018.
Equally as important as returning a heathy QB, the Terrapins are finally returning a healthy “Buck” end. Jesse Aniebonam was the all-star of the defense in the 2016 season. It was a special year as he ended up with 9 sacks and 14 TFLs. However, he missed the rest of the 2017 season after being injured in the opener against Texas. In his absence, Maryland had a measly 16 sacks on the year. Of those 16 sacks, 14 came in just 3 games, leaving only 2 for the rest of the entire year.
The other side of the defensive line will be filled by former Auburn DE, Byron Cowart. Cowart was a 5-star prospect in the 2015 class and the #3 player in the nation. If he is able to live up to his potential, the Maryland defensive line will be MUCH improved this season
The Terps will be looking to replace All B1G LB Jermaine Carter this season. Illinois grad-transfer Tre Watson looks to be the main player to fill that void. Watson turned heads during the spring and looks ready to jump right into the starting lineup. It seems like coach Durkin has been replacing starters with players from other schools, as CB Marcus Lewis seems to be atop the depth chart as well. Lewis is a former FSU player and is ready to gear up for the Terps.
Despite the less-than-mediocre record in 2017, it still seems to be a step forward for the Terps. Who knows what might have been had the injury bug not hit? Due to the injuries, Durkin was able to build some depth and now Maryland has solid options at most positions. While the Terps will continue to take a step forward, they won’t be a B1G contender in the 2018 season just yet. However, do not fret Maryland fans. It takes ~4 seasons for a head coach to build their foundation through recruiting, and this will only be Durkin’s 3rd year. Trust the process, Terps. You guys are headed in the right direction. Although it will certainly be close, we fully expect for Maryland to make a bowl this year.
Projected Record: 6-7