The Maryland Terrapins football program of old died in 2015, and with it the hope of a new and Big Ten-worthy era rise in 2016. After just a few months in to the season, Randy Edsall was out and a long search resulted in the hire of D.J. Durkin as the new head coach.
Given the change that the top and all over the coaching staff, what could 2015 possibly tell us all about 2016?
You’d be surprised…so let’s relive 2015 (even if you don’t want to) for the Terps.
Considering the 2015 season ended with the Terps holding a 3-9 record, it is hard to really call anything good. However, getting a measure of revenge on the team they’ll always be linked with, Rutgers, had to be the high-point of a miserable season.
In fact, it was an easy choice for the “good” of 2015, as the Terps not only took down the Scarlet Knights 46-41 in Piscataway, New Jersey, they did so in crazy fashion. After going down by 21 points in just under a quarter and a half, Maryland made the comeback that Rutgers did to them a season ago and scored the game-winning touchdown in emphatic fashion as well.
The winning touchdown came via an 80-yard scamper by senior running back Brandon Ross with 4:40 to play. It was the third rushing touchdown of the fourth quarter for the Terps as well.
Given all that had happened, not backing down and coming back for the win said a lot about the character of the players on the team.
Ironically, the worst thing to happen to this team in 2015 didn’t even happen on the field of play. Instead, it happened with the loss of Mike Lockesly as offensive coordinator and then head coach. As Locksley left, so did the biggest quarterback recruit in Terps history.
Of course, we’re talking about Maryland native and the No. 7-ranked pro-style quarterback and No. 88-ranked overall player in the country, Dwayne Haskins. With Locksley’s time coming to an end the new coaching staff never had a chance.
Making matters really bad, Haskins jumped ship and signed a national letter of intent to play for East division foe Ohio State. While Durkin did a good job keeping most of the class together, there were some big losses thanks to uncertainty on the coaching staff.
Some of it was to be expected, but clearly Durkin and Co. wanted Haskins bad, as they put in a huge effort to keep him in the fold. Instead, the Terps settled for 3-star signal caller Max Bortenschlager — a far cry from what could’ve been for Maryland.
No thing was uglier for the Terps in 2015 than the play at quarterback. Three different players started at least one game, they combined for barely 2,000 yards and had 29 interceptions to go with just 15 touchdowns.
That’s about as ugly as it gets, with Perry Hills leading the way with 1,001 yards and eight touchdowns to 13 interceptions.
We don’t have to tell you that throwing more interceptions than touchdowns is a negative, but Maryland was just one of two Big Ten teams tow throw more interceptions than touchdowns and lower than 50 percent of their passes (Northwestern was the other in both categories).
U-G-L-Y was hardly the word that describes Maryland’s quarterback performances.
What it Tells Us about 2016:
Erasing the bad feelings, memories and habits of the Randy Edsall era will be key, but 2015 was also a great learning opportunity thanks to all the adversity this team faced. Pulling together for a 21-point comeback win in a meaningless finale certainly speaks volumes for how together this team can be at times.
That kind of fight and determination combined with a new energy of a new coaching staff is something to be excited about. However, there were also plenty of things to not be too happy about from 2015 and that certainly includes the mess that was quarterback.
With Durkin’s defensive reputation and plenty of new parts to work with on that side of the ball, this upcoming season is more likely about whipping the slate clean than dwelling on what happened last year.