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B1G 2015 // Maryland Cocktail Party

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We resume the B1G 2015 series with the Maryland Terrapins who are coming fresh off their first full season in the Big Ten

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome back! We resume the B1G 2015 series with Maryland, who is fresh off of their first season in the Big Ten where they finished 7-6 after dropping their bowl game to Stanford.  2014 surprised a lot of Big Ten fans who were skeptical about Maryland, but they did what they should have until they stumbled down the stretch losing to Rutgers by beating the teams they should have and losing to the big guns.

About last season

The Good News..

Maryland did much better than many pundits expected.  There were many doubters, not that many who thought they'd break even, and even less who thought they'd have a winning record.  If you subtract that second half meltdown against Rutgers, they would have went 8-4 and have beaten Michigan and Penn State, both at their own place.  Not bad for a team many had written off, even if it is beating some teams in their down year.

The Bad News...

Maryland was absolutely obliterated by the top of the conference.  Sure, OSU won the national championship, but Maryland was never in the games against Michigan State, Wisconsin or Ohio State.  There was clearly a few tiers in between Maryland and the top of the conference.

On the Offensive Side of the Ball

The Good News...

The offensive line should be much bigger this year with redshirt freshmen blue chip recruits Derwin Gray and Damian Prince both working their way into the lineups. The bigger line should give some better pass protection and hopefully assist the anemic run game from last year that struggled against bigger fronts. 10th 6th year senior CJ Brown has finally graduated, which will put gunslinger Caleb Rowe firmly into the starting position at quarterback.  This gives Maryland a QB with no fear and the arm to put it anywhere on the field, something that CJ Brown time and time again showed he couldn't do.

The Bad News...

Stefon Diggs and Deon Long both graduated while Marcus Leak has left the program and Juwan Winfree is no longer enrolled at the University.  What was a position of strength for Maryland at WR has now become a big unknown with Levern Jacobs, Tavon Jacobs, Amba Etta-Tawo and Will Ulmer now expected to take the majority of the snaps.  Levern and Etta-Tawo both have big experience but Levern was suspended all last season and Etta-Tawo has shaky hands.  Tavon and Ulmer both run sub 4.4 40s and have huge potential but are unproven.  CJ Brown is gone, which depending on who you ask is either good or bad while Caleb Rowe takes over.  I'm on the Rowe bandwagon, but the issue here is that he has never stayed healthy.  He has torn his ACL twice and has yet to practice this spring but should be ready for summer camp.

On the Defensive Side of the Ball

The Good News...

Maryland should have one of the better secondaries of the Big Ten.  Will Likely is a big time corner while lacking a bit in height, and Sean Davis has transitioned from Safety to Cornerback after excelling at free safety the past two seasons.  The backups at corner both started at various points last year, giving a nice veteran presence behind the two starters while Anthony Nixon and AJ Hendy are veteran safeties who should be more than adequate behind Likely and Davis.  Maryland also returns two great pass rushers in Yannick Ngakoue and Jesse Aneibonam.

The Bad News...

Maryland is switching from a 3-4 to a 4-3 and breaking in a new defensive coordinator after Brian Stewart left to coach the secondary at Nebraska.  Both Ngakoue and Aneibonam are moving from the Will LB spot to opposite DEs, who will form a formidable pass rush but Maryland will be breaking in three new LBs while moving Quenton Jefferson inside to DT and breaking in a new DT opposite him.  Maryland will have the pass rush down solid, but in terms of run stopping it is a really big unknown at this point how the inside of the line and LBs will fare against their opponents.

Special Teams

The Good News...

Graza Award winner Brad Craddock is back to boot in all the FGs.

The Bad News...

Who is the punter? We've recruited a ton but it doesn't sound promising out of the spring.  Maryland also has to replace Diggs in the return game, although that Will Likely not be too big of an issue.

On the Schedule

Date Opponent
Sept. 5 Richmond
Sept. 12 Bowling Green
Sept. 19 USF
Sept. 26 at West Virginia
Oct. 3 Michigan
Oct. 10 at Ohio State
Oct. 17 Bye
Oct. 24 Penn State (at M&T Bank Stadium)
Oct. 31 at Iowa
Nov. 7 Wisconsin
Nov. 14 at Michigan State
Nov. 21 Indiana
Nov. 28 at Rutgers

5-1 sounds good heading into the Bye week (speaking of which, didn't we have two last year?), but that would mean that Maryland handled both West Virginia and Michigan.  Maryland hasn't won in Morgantown since 2002 while they do get Michigan at home, who will probably be much better under their new head coach.  I mean really, it's hard to be worse, but Hoke showed us never to doubt Michigan about being worse.  That aside, realistically Maryland at worst should be 3-3 heading into the bye.

After the bye, Maryland gets a "home" matchup against Penn State in Baltimore followed by heading out to take on two B1G West opponents.  After the bye, Maryland could feasibly go 4-2, but they always derp a game they should win and I'm not so sure how they'll do in Baltimore.  I guess we are looking at 6-6, but given a wholesale defensive scheme change and a new QB with unproven WRs, that isn't so bad.

If you're talking to a Maryland fan...

do mention:

Crabcakes, the mens basketball team, Kevin Anderson somehow getting a stellar buyout clause for Randy's extension, practice facilities and pretty much all non-revenue sports sans wrestling.

don't mention:

Is Randy really better than Ralph?, AMDQBHG, Penn State (really, don't, or you won't hear the end of the conversation).