When we (podcast pardner Thumpasaurus and I, that is) talk, constantly, about the disconnect between the recruiting talent and the performance on the field, it really comes down to the defense, doesn’t it?
On the offensive side of the ball, it’s been pretty easy to diagnose the issue in the past. Maryland’s quarterbacks have been so consistently injured that it’s often impossible to fairly judge the unit as a whole, playing large parts of seasons with backups of backups of backups at the most important spot on the field.
But uhhhh the defense doesn’t really have that excuse, does it? Sure, there are injuries here and there, but mostly, it’s a unit that consistently has a couple of NFL-caliber defensive backs, a crew of guys who at least look the part in the front seven, and yet...any half-competent offense just takes them to pieces.
The players are there for a good unit this season, too. Losing Jordan Mosley and Nick Cross will hurt, but there’s still a nice corner combo in Tarheeb Still and Jakorian Bennett. DLs Ami Finau and Mosiah Nasili-Kite provide a base to stuff the run.
The real problem is, there’s just no significant pass rushing threat to speak of. Maryland managed just 31 sacks as a team last year. Nasili-Kite (4 sacks) and Greg China-Rose (5 sacks) offer a bit of pass rush, but there’s nobody commanding a double threat and ruining opposing blocking schemes. This is where DE Demeioun Robinson’s transfer to Penn State is a brutal loss, both in perception and on-field impact, as the former blue chip figured to step into Sam Okuayinonu’s shoes.
As with the offense, there’s a new coordinator in charge as well, as the school and Brian Stewart reached a mutual agreement to part ways (that seems to happen at Maryland more than it does at other places. Just an observation) and former OLB coach Brian Williams becomes the new coordinator.
Of course, Locksley only settled on Williams after itinerant DC Kevin Steele accepted the position at Maryland, and then while the etched lettering on his office nameplate was still hot off the press, decamped to join Mario Cristobal’s staff at Miami. Does...anybody actually want to coach at Maryland? And is it any wonder this team can’t find consistency or cohesion?