Making a bowl game was a highlight goal for the first year of the Maryland Terrapins’ D.J. Durkin era. That happened after a 6-6 regular season led to a berth in the Quick Lane Bowl.
With year two on the horizon, how does one top last season, especially in the rough and tumble Big Ten East division? Perhaps the answers lie in some more confident offensive play. But, is that something the Terps are capable of?
The answers will lie in the work this team puts in during the summer heading in to fall camp. What happens to be the setup Walt Bell and Co. will be working with?
Key Returning Players: Ty Johnson, RB; D.J. Moore, WR; Tyrrell Pigrome, QB; Damian Prince, OL
Key Players Lost: Levern Jacobs, WR; Michael Dunn, OL; QB Perry Hills
New Coache(s): Tyler Bowen, Offensive Line
Let’s take a look at the good and bad news for the Maryland Terrapins offense in 2017.
The Good News is…
Maryland returns one of the most explosive and dangerous running backs in the Big Ten. Ty Johnson ended last season with “just” 1,004 yards rushing, but he did it on just 110 carries. That resulted in Johnson leading the nation in rushing average (for those with 100 or more carries) at 9.1 yards per carry.
It certainly was a surprise season for the sophomore, but he won’t be sneaking up on anyone this season. That’s ok though, because he didn’t sneak up on people once Big Ten play started and it didn’t really matter. He ran for over 100 yards in just five games last season, so this year consistency needs to be king.
Some of that inconsistency can be chalked up to the fact that there were so many other running options last season. Now sophomore Lorenzo Harrison II also had a good start to his career, racking up 633 yards on just 88 carries and fellow sophomore Jake Funk could be in the mix for carries after putting up 136 yards on just 29 carries last season.
If you want to know where things are going to start for the Terps offense in 2017, look no further than the diverse and dangerous ground game that is developing in College Park, Md.
The Bad News is…
While the run game is going strong, quarterback is completely up in the air. The hope coming in to spring is that one of either Tyrrell Pigrome or North Carolina transfer and former four-star recruit, Caleb Henderson, would win the job.
That didn’t happen and now it appears the window is wide open for incoming freshman Kasim Hill to win the job through his play in the summer and in to fall camp.
There’s no doubt that in order for Walt Bell’s offense to take off, there needs to be a quarterback who can use his arm first. Henderson showed flashes, but also showed why he was beat out for the starting job at UNC in 2015. Pigrome is a great run-first option, but continues to show issues in terms of accuracy and ability to cut down on turnovers.
Hill seems to be the quarterback Bell and Co. want to win the job, but it is such a big leap for a true freshman quarterback. One has to wonder if they’ll take the year of growth and lumps while they know the run game is good and move on from there.
The Good News is…
D.J. Durkin identified the issues on his team quickly and is taking drastic steps to correct them. After just one season, Durkin pulled the plug on his first offensive line coach and went out and got up and coming coach Tyler Bowen in the mix.
Bowen returns to the school where he played his college ball and is in FBS football after spending the last two years as the offensive line coach and offensive coordinator last season at Fordham. He’s well versed in what Bell wants to accomplish, but most importantly is a highly regarded offensive line coach.
For all the success the Terps had in the run game, amazingly things could’ve been way better with more consistent play on the offensive line.
There is plenty of talent to work with, including anchor Damian Prince and a nice group of young players coming in to the program over the last two recruiting classes. Will it all add up to an improved unit in 2017? We’ll have to wait and see, but the foundation seems to be there.
The Bad News Is…
All of this may not matter much in 2017, and that is largely thanks to the Terps having a crazy schedule this season. Maryland took advantage of a really beneficial schedule in 2016, but this season won’t be as kind.
Texas and UCF are on the upswing and are certainly more quality non-conference opponents than Florida International and Howard. Even Towson is an increased FCS opponent as well. Adding Wisconsin to the West division games and having to play Northwestern at the height of its progress isn’t good news. Either is having to play at both Ohio State and Michigan State.
Perhaps the worst news for this offense is the fact that it will have to face Michigan, MSU and Penn State to finish off the season. Those are arguably three of the best defenses in the Big Ten and a win in one of those games is likely going to be necessary to get to .500 this season. I don’t like those odds.
Maryland at Ohio State: Is Maryland Ready To Close The Gap?
When: Sat. Oct. 7; 4:00 pm ET
Where: Columbus, OH; Ohio Stadium (104,944)
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.
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.
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.
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?
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)
All-Time Series: Maryland leads 1-0
Last Meeting: Terps 30, UCF 24 (2ot) (2016)
Line: Maryland (-4)
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Our Philip Rossman-Reich breaks down the game for you.
talking10 Power Poll: Surprises galore in Week 1 poll
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?
- 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?