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Maryland Terapins Football Preview: State of the 2017 Defense

We take an in-depth look at all things Maryland Terrapins defense for 2017.

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We continue our week-long look at the Maryland Terrapins, but the focus turns defensive this time around.

With head coach D.J. Durkin being a defensive-minded coach, one would expect this group to be the calling card of his era. If that is the case, it wasn’t a good start. But, transition can take some time. So, we’ll be watching to see how the transition takes place heading in to year two.

Preview Week: Lessons from 2016 | State of the Offense | Bold Predictions | talking10 Podcast | Impact Players |

Let’s take a look at the good and bad news facing the Maryland Terrapins defense in 2017.

Key Players Returning: Jesse Aniebonam, DE; Kingsley Opara, NG; Jermaine Carter; ILB

Key Players Gone: Will Likely, CB; Alvin Hill, CB

 

The Good News Is…

Things can’t get much worse for the Terps defense. No seriously, they can’t. Maryland finished last season 11th in scoring and rushing defense, 9th in passing defense and 12th in total defense. That’s simply not going to cut it for a team that is looking to compete with the likes of Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State.

With the head coach being a defensive guy like Durkin is, certainly he is going to figure out a way for the defense to be more competitive for the upcoming season. Part of that is the hope that players who made the transition last year make a leap with the extra comfort level as to what is going on.

A year of film, coaching and understanding each other should help the returning players, and then add in a full class of recruits that fit what Durkin is trying to do. That’s a recipe that could be successful going forward.

At least this group knows what not to do to be successful on the defensive side of the ball.

The Bad News Is…

Those who are in a position to make the changes for the defense may be a year or two away from making an impact. Names like Jesse Aniebonam, Jermaine Carter and Shane Cockerille are leaders for this defense, but they all were inconsistent at best last season.

In order for this group to move up like we have talked about they need to be pushed to a higher level. That competition is likely a bit too far off for that to realistically happen this year. Talented young players like Deon Jones and Breyon Gaddy may be in the two-deep this year, but are new recruits ready to also step in quickly?

We’ll have more on the recruits who could have an impact on this team in 2017, but overall the question for the defense seems to be if there’s enough quality competition to push this group forward. I don’t think the answer is yes, at least not for another year and another quality recruiting class in place.

The Good News Is…

There is a senior defensive line to work with. Sure, Aniebonam, Kingsley Opara and Cavon Walker weren’t stellar last season as a group, but they are the most experienced and talented group on the defensive side of the ball.

In fact, if Aniebonam shows up this season like he did late in 2016, the Terps may have a player opposing teams really have to gameplan around. Opara is also a candidate to make a big impact for the defense, as he grew in to his position and showed an ability to eat up space in the middle. Can he also keep up the pace in getting in to the backfield?

He certainly did it last season with 11.5 tackles for loss and three sacks. That kind of production is a good foundation to build on. Now add in another offseason of coaching and getting the weight room right and we could have a star in the making.

The Bad News Is…

Will Likely is no longer on the team and neither is Alvin Hill. Few players on the Terps squad the past few years were as impactful as Likely was though. He was an excellent cornerback, but was also valuable to this team as a punt and kick returner.

Losing his abilities across the board is going to have a big impact on the 2017 season. Youth is likely to be served at both the cornerback and returner positions to say the least. Can that youth rise to the occasion and be impactful in a positive way? It is one of the big questions for the defense heading in to this season.

Hill’s graduation means both cornerback positions will have new starters and that can be a scary good or scary bad thing depending on what is left behind them. In the case of the Terps defense, there is a lot of uncertainty because only two other defensive backs recorded an interception last season.

JC Jackson appears poised to take on one of the starting roles and he is one of the two DB’s to have recorded an interception last year. But, is there depth beyond him seems to be the major question ahead and that’s not a fun one to have to find out the answer to as game time approaches.

What Does It All Mean?

All of the information that we know about the Maryland defense heading in to 2017 points to a team in need of an infusion of productivity. The talent seems to be there across the board, but most of said talent didn’t live up to potential last season.

There are individual parts to like or see potential in, but is this a group that is ready to make a step up as an entire unit? If not, it could be the reason this team doesn’t get back to a bowl game this season.

Overall, this defense could surprise or disappoint — we simply don’t know which way the talent will develop. Answers really didn’t come in the spring.

Andy Coppens is the Founder and Publisher of Talking10. He's a member of the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) and has been covering college sports in some capacity since 2008. You can follow him on Twitter @AndyOnFootball

Buckeyes Football

Maryland at Ohio State: Is Maryland Ready To Close The Gap?

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When: Sat. Oct. 7; 4:00 pm ET
Where: Columbus, OH; Ohio Stadium (104,944)
TV: Fox
All-Time Series: Ohio State leads 3-0
Last Meeting: Ohio State won 62-3 last year
Line: Ohio State (-31)

Join our Andy Coppens as we take an in-depth look at the questions to be answered, key stats to watch and of course the key players as the Maryland Terrapins travel West for a matchup with the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Some wonder just where the Terps place is in the Big Ten pecking order…we’ve got the answer…well sorta.

Don’t forget to subscribe and enjoy all our video chatter of all things Big Ten. Buckeyes fans can also support all things talkingBuckeyes by copping this amazing state stripe shirt!

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Kasim Hill’s injury spells end to promising 2017 for Terps

Maryland’s worst fears were realized on Tuesday as a second quarterback is out for the year with an ACL tear.

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One thing was made abundantly clear following Kasim Hill’s injury on Saturday afternoon against UCF. This team needs a dynamic quarterback to be a winner.

The worst of fears about the extent of Hill’s injury were realized on Tuesday, as head coach D.J. Durkin announced Hill had suffered a season-ending ACL tear. He suffered the injury after throwing just one pass for 8 yards in the first quarter of the game.

UCF was going to be Hill’s stiffest test on defense, but he never had a chance to get going as this injury happened so suddenly and so early in the game.

Durkin let us know that Hill’s character was already shining through in this tough situation while addressing the media on Tuesday.

“He’ll bounce back,” said Durkin “He’s got a bright future in football both here and beyond. I think that’s pretty clear. That guy’s a phenomenal talent and that doesn’t even compare to the type of person he is. He’s got a great attitude about it, he’s looking this thing right in the face saying let’s go get it. He’ll have surgery, rehab and be back with us when time allows.”

On Saturday, junior Max Bortenschlager stepped up in Hill’s place. Let’s just say there is a reason he was third on the depth chart heading in to the season.

Bortenschlager isn’t that dynamic quarterback Maryland needs to be successful to say the least, throwing for just 132 yards and a touchdown to two interceptions against the Knights on Saturday.

Sure, he didn’t have the luxury of a full-week of game prep, but he’s been the backup quarterback since Week 1 and should’ve been ready to go in to the game. He’s also had plenty of experience coming off the bench and being part of a quarterback rotation prior to this weekend.

The problem is, Maryland’s formula for winning this season has largely been based off of a dynamic quarterback who can keep defenses honest, run the ball and thus allow the rest of the running backs room to roam too.

Now what for the Terps offense and the 2017 season?

It is time for Walt Bell to totally re-think his offensive scheme going forward. Whether it is Bortenschlager or even Caleb Henderson taking the snaps going forward, both are better suited as pocket passers than spread read-option first quarterbacks.

It’s like the Terps have to flip their offensive 180 degrees and must do so with no time to prepare ahead of the Big Ten season.

Maryland’s saving grace here? Well, it may be in the fact that having to go through quarterbacks like it is going out of style is actually old hat for them. This weekend will mark the fourth time in six seasons that the Terps have had to start three different quarterbacks in the same season.

Is it any wonder they haven’t been successful in the past, and seem to be dead in the water for 2017 too?

We’ll see if the run game is enough to carry this team to bowl eligibility, because the Terps defense seems unable to stop anyone so far this season.

But, it is hard to see Hill’s injury as anything but completely devastating to Maryland’s chances of contending at all in 2017.

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UCF Knights at Maryland Terrapins: Preview, predictions and prognostications

Maryland and UCF played a wild one in 2016. Can we expect more of the offensive fireworks in the re-match?

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What’s better than feasting your eyes on our weekly previews here at talking10? How about feasting your eyes and ears too? That’s exactly what we’ll bring each week going forward as we flip our previews over to talking10TV every week.

Same great formula, just a new format.

Up first is our look at the UCF Knights traveling to College Park, Md. to take on the Maryland Terrapins.

When: Sat.; Sept. 23; 3pm ET
Where: College Park, Md.; Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium (51,802)
TV: FS1
All-Time Series: Maryland leads 1-0
Last Meeting: Terps 30, UCF 24 (2ot) (2016)
Line: Maryland (-4)

*Don’t forget to visit our friends at mybookie.ag to get up to a 100% cash bonus upon your first deposit using code: TALKING10

Our Philip Rossman-Reich breaks down the game for you.

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talking10 Power Poll: Surprises galore in Week 1 poll

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We’re back…after a long offseason, the staff is finally back to watching football, crunching numbers and giving you our opinions on all things Big Ten football.

It also means our weekly staff Power Poll is back as well.

This season we’ve got five staff members voting every week. That includes the following names:

Andy Coppens@AndyOnFootball

Phil Harrison@PhilHarrisonCFB

Philip Rossmann-Reich – @RiseNU

Dave Fitzgerald@BuckeyeFitzy

Zach Worthington@Worthyton

Normally the opening week of the season provides little in the way of knowledge, but that certainly wasn’t the case in 2017. Dare we say the first week of action for the Big Ten was highly entertaining?

You can say that, and we did over at the #B1GRewind Show.

But, how did all of that excitement shake out when it came time to vote? Let’s take a look at the official poll for Week 1:

Let’s just say things were a bit wackier than usual, huh?

Takeaways:

  • Only three teams lost this week, yet it was a winner, Illinois, coming up dead last and it wasn’t even close. The Illini’s unimpressive three-point win was also our winner for “Disappointment of the Week” on the #B1GRewind show…so perhaps their last place finish in the power poll this week was really warranted. It also appears that hanging tough with ranked teams meant a lot to our voters.
  • While the rest of the college football world is in love with Ohio State…our staff is much more in love with the Nittany Lions…well not “much more” but they won out with three first place votes and OSU falling outside the top two in one voters mind.
  • It appears there is going to be an interesting battle for the middle of the pack over the next few weeks. Michigan State was No. 7 in this poll, but had just a three-point lead on No. 10 Nebraska. Let’s just say the next few weeks should shake out the middle a bit more.
  • Speaking of close fights…the battle between Michigan and Wisconsin for the third spot should be an interesting one indeed. Can Wisconsin’s offense keep up the high-scoring and keep UW ahead or will Michigan’s exciting youth movement grow up fast enough to challenge for the top of the East division and thus our poll as well?
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