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B1G 2016 // Maryland Terrapins Cocktail Party Preview

Taking a look at what Maryland Terrapins football will look like in 2016

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

While I wish that Maryland's placement in the series was due to record, it in fact was not but Jesse is awesome and swapped week's with me.  Thanks!

So, to Maryland football if we have to.  It's time for the Maryland Terrapins Cocktail Party preview where we can at least all rejoice that Randy Edsall is gone from the conference and Maryland appears to have done something competent in the coaching search.  I'd rather just spend the week discussing DJ Durkin, basketball and lacrosse while avoiding the current state of the team but someone has to do it.

Last Season

The "good" news...

It's over, right? Randy Edsall was taking a team fresh off of a 7-6 season and looking to continue it's progress through the daunting B1G East schedule.  Welp, that went well and Randy was out by October.  Thanks Urban for doing us all a solid and helping the administration understand he needed to go!

From a players perspective, there wasn't a ton to look forward to on a good news perspective other than Will Likely can do a little bit of everything.  When interim head coach Mike Locksley stepped in he made the choice to use Likely on the offensive side of the ball as well, giving the team a jolt of offense and at least giving Maryland fans something to watch other than Perry Hills chucking up a wobbling throw or otherwise running the ball.  The defensive line was unexpectedly solid last year, finishing in the top 5 in sacks which may or may not have been a result of being on the field a majority of the game due to the offenses ineptitude.

The bad news...

Last season still exists in my head and that's bad.  I'd rather just forget that season all together.  Maryland failed to address the QB position in recruiting for years on end and ended up with a dual threat QB that was really just a running threat and therefore made them easy to defend.  That's not to say that Perry Hills didn't have some spectacular runs along the way but when you can't throw the ball past 10 yards it really makes you easier to defend.  Oh, did I mention he was a junior so he's the presumptive starter this year? Awesome.

Despite Will Likely being one of the better corners in the conference, Maryland's secondary was one to forget last season.  Safety Sean Davis was moved to cornerback for lack of better options and teams frequently took advantage of his lack of agility as an easy way to not target whoever was matched up against Likely.  And speaking of him, he wasn't so hot at the end of the season either when he was dual hatting with offense, which I expect to end this year under new head coach DJ Durkin.  Will Likely was simply gassed when playing offense, defense and special teams, as anyone would expect.  Anyways, with Sean Davis at corner the safety play really struggled as well and it was an all around disappointment in what looked to be a decent group on paper before the season started.

On the offensive side of the ball...

The good news...

Do we want to know the one thing Randy was good at? Recruiting offensive linemen.  For whatever reason, he did convince at least two blue chip OL to come to Maryland every year for the past three years.  That will begin to pay off as he also made the smart move of redshirting said OL when they came to campus even though the OL was in dire straights.  Hey, he did something right, being positive here!

Maryland also returns an above average RB corps with Wes Brown and Ty Johnson along with Virginia Tech grad transfer Trey Edmunds.  Expect early enrollee and Maryland Gatorade Player of the Year Jake Funk to get into the mix as well, although my preference would be to redshirt him with the talent in front of him since minimal snaps would just be a waste of a year of playing for him.

I'll take a page out of Jesse's book here and not go too far out on a limb when I say this: RUN. THE. DAMN. BALL.

The bad news...

Remember how Maryland was laughable at best when passing the ball this year? Yep, I do.  Well, both Perry Hills and Caleb Rowe are the two primary QB's competing for the starting spot this year along with true freshman Tyrrell Pigrome, who was the Alabama POTY but lacked the height to really be considered a blue chip prospect.  He has an absolute cannon of an arm but true freshmen rarely compete right away to start at QB and I'd expect him to redshirt.

Oh, we thought we had one of those though.  Kindly see yourselves out, all of you Ohio State fans.

(I'm not that bitter but I wanted to use that gif)

On the defensive side of the ball...

The good news...

Will Likely returns and the entire secondary is a year older with experience.  Darnell Savage was forced into playing time as a true freshman and while he didn't impress the experience should help the once highly recruited prospect as he competes for a starting job opposite Will Likely this year.

The bad news...

You might be thinking: damn, that wasn't a lot of good news.  Well, there isn't a lot of good news.  Maryland lost two starters on the DL this year (one to the draft, one to graduation) as well as Sean Davis (who was a better safety anyways).  Then you look at what Randy Edsall did "recruiting" on the defensive side of the ball.

Yep, that about sums up defensive recruiting in the secondary and on the DL. The DL recruiting just lacked in any high end quality other than perhaps Adam McClean (hasn't played yet) and Jesse Aneibonam.  David Shaw has been intriguing at DT when he's on the field but has been hampered with injuries on and off throughout his career.  I suppose the starting DL could be at least serviceable, if not above average, but there is about zero depth as witnessed by the intent of DJ Durkin to sign at least 4 DL in the 2017 class from what I can tell so far.

The secondary recruiting under Edsall? Almost a complete after thought.  It's like he thought the secondary wasn't even part of the football team if you look at the way he recruited.

About special teams...

The good news....

Brad Craddock is gone, so we'll just focus on how Will Likely is one of the best punt returners in the country when people want to kick to him.  He broke the all time B1G return yards record last season and will continue returning punts and kicks this year now that he will focus on just playing defense and not both sides of the ball.

The bad news....

Brad Craddock is gone, he of the Lou Graza award in 2014 before stumbling due to injury in 2015.  His replacement? Adam Greene looked alright in warm ups the past few years, so we'll have to see.

Punting? We've got about four of those and they're all awful.  Four punters, three long snappers and [last year] two place kickers.  Seven total roster spots [this year] given to players that schools recruit 1 of about every three years.  Thanks Randy.

The Schedule

Date Opponent
Sept 3 Howard
Sept 9 at Florida Atlantic
Sept 17th at Central Florida
Oct 1st Purdue
Oct 8th at Penn State
Oct 15th Minnesota
Oct 22nd Michigan State
Oct 29th at Indiana
Nov 5th at Michigan
Nov 12th Ohio State
Nov 19th at Nebraska
Nov 26th Rutgers

The good news...

The first five weeks present a legitimate chance to start 4-0 with the very week OOC combined with starting the Big Ten schedule off with Purdue.  At Penn State is an intriguing game depending on how they replace Christian Hackenberg and how Maryland's run defense looks but other than that, only Indiana and Rutgers look winnable after the first five weeks.

The bad news...

The stretch of October 15th to November 19th presents a legitimate chance to go 1-5 with Indiana appearing to be the only winnable game in that stretch.  I'm not that optimistic on the season unless DJ Durkin somehow figures out a way to do a lot with little.  There are pieces on offense but it's missing the main component and the defense is very young and/or very thin throughout.

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

Do mention...

Maryland is generally good at most sports that aren't football, so start there! Men's and Women's lacrosse have made title runs this year, the men's basketball team has been having great success and the women's basketball team is always a contender. The list goes on.  You can also talk the hot start to recruiting under DJ Durkin, Stefon Diggs, Melo Trimble, The Dairy on campus and that B1G money.

Don't mention...

Randy Edsall (unless it's of him being fired), football last season, Ohio State robbing recruits last minute, DC traffic, our QB situation, and really the last five years of football in general under Edsall.