We’ve got a kind of dual-preview thing going on here, with larry31 providing his Terps preview and prediction but—either to be an asshole or because MNW is behind on his work yet again—letting all the OTE writers get in on the action and weighing in on some Maryland food nonsense.
Larry Previews the Offense
As Green Akers has pointed out, Maryland was really good against bad teams and not so good against good teams.
Remember last season? Maryland is the “king of the dipshits.”
These numbers are inflated because of how well things clicked agaisnt bad teams (yes, I know, SP+ supposedly takes into consideration the quality of the opponent). Nevertheless, Taulia Tagovailoa is one of the top QBs in the conference and Maryland’s receiving corps is stacked. Starting WRs include Donatay Demus Jr, Rakim Jarrett, and Florida Gators transfer Jacob Copeland. Reports are that Copeland has been every bit as good as the other two stars. When Jeshaun Jones is your 4th WR, your WR room is crowded. And Demus and Jones were injured and lost for the season after the early-season disaster against Iowa.
Maryland returns a solid and experienced OL. Lead RBs Colby McDonald and Challen Faamatau are underrrated and MD will not see a drop-off in the running game with the departure of Tayon Fleet-Davis. It may actually improve marginally. I am very high on Colby McDonald. I think ranking them #10 is a bit inflated, but this is a potent offense and definitely a top-20 offense.
Larry Previews the Defense
The defense will improve.
Late in the season, MD beat Indiana 38-35. That’s right, MD’s defense gave up 35 points to a horrible Indiana offense. Then they beat Rutgers 40-16 and Va Tech 54-10. Statistically, Rutgers’ offense was slightly better than Indiana’s offense.
The difference? Brian Williams took over the play calling for the Rutgers and Indiana games. DC Brian Stewart is gone and Brian Williams has taken over as DC. Stewart stayed mostly in man coverage, which failed miserably because MD couldn’t consistently get pressure on opposing QBs. B-Will used a lot of zone coverages, which really helped the defense. Admittedly, this is a limited sample size, but this coaching change is a significant improvement.
Unfortunately, this huge improvement is offset somewhat by the departures of freshmen 5-star LB Terrence Lewis, freshmen 5-star DE Demioun Robinson, and 4-star freshmen Branden Jennings. Reports are that at least two of these guys weren’t exactly team-first guys that you love to have in your locker room. But, that is still a lot of talent to lose on an already weak squad. Overall, this unit will improve over last year’s unit just because fo the coaching change. Realistically, a good season for the defense is being ranked top-40 in SP+. I suspect they will be ranked 45-60 by the time all is said and done.
Larry Previews the Punters
I think STs weigh equally with offense and defense. The Ron Zook follies were on full display last year. Multiple long punt returns and kickoff returns all season. The Zooker has taken his talents to the USFL. He is being replaced by an unknown coach with not much experience who was promoted from within the coaching staff. Generally, the coaching changes Locks has made during is tenure have resulted in appricable improvment, but knows how this is going to go? MD did bring in a good kicker in Eastern Michigan grad transfer Chad Ryland. So, that’s a notable improvement in the kicking game. ST coaching can’t go anywhere but up with the departure of the Zooker, but who knows how much? I’m not expecting much.
Overall, all three phases will be an improvement over last year. But, not enough to be better than PSU, MSU, UM and OSU. Maryland is still ahead of Rutgers and Indiana’s offense will be comically bad with ex-Terp OC Walt Bell calling the plays on offense.
larry31: I never love doing game-by-game predictions because about half of the games are fuzzy and could go either way. This feels a lot like last year in which MD was the “king of the dipshits,” beating the bad teams and losing to the good teams. I really don’t see MD sneaking in an upset against UM, MSU, Wiscy, PSU, or OSU. Whereas, I like getting Purdue at home and NW at home for homecoming. 7-5 feels about right. Sneaking in an upset against one of the five teams mentioned above and going 8-4 would be an absolute stunning success. Of course, 6-6 is also a possibility and more likely than 8-4.
An obligatory reminder, Bo Pelini won 9 or more games in 7 straight seasons for Nebraska and got fired. They haven’t achieved that win total once in a single season since he was fired in 2014. Maryland fans would be ecstatic to have that level of success for which Bo was fired.
Misdreavus79: Looks like they play CLIT this year. (Editor’s note: I originally posted a pic of the schedule from ESPN and Charlotte was just “CLT”)
WSR: Do any men actually know how to deal with that opponent?
Kind of…: By overlooking it? [Wow, it IS a good metaphor.]
BoilerUp89: WWWLLLWWLLLW (6-6, 3-6 in B1G). The Purdue game could be interesting, though.
JesseCollins: 6-6? I see a lot of scenarios of Rutgers being a bowl play-in game. I like the crossovers. Away games are rough but I don’t see them winning anywhere against Michigan, Wisconsin, or Penn State so maybe it plays out okay. There’s a ton of talent on this roster but really, I am in a wait and see on it being put to good use.
Kind of…: I’m going to overcorrect from my 3-9/0-9 call from last year and say 7-5/4-5. Smart money is that they don’t go 3-0 in the critical vs. PUR, @Ind, vs. NW stretch, but something about Maryland makes me dumb (state motto?).
MNW: Charlotte was…uneven…to say the least in Will Healy’s third year, but the 49ers in Jerry Richardson Gropey McRacist Stadium – well, just ask Duke how that can go. (Hope you can get access to Stadium to watch that one, Terps fans.)
This is an intriguing schedule, regardless, but it not only sets up Maryland for the 6-6 (3-6) letdown…but anywhere along the non-conference, the Terps can choke on a bone. Buffalo’s not as far off as their 4-8 record under first-year coach Maurice Linguist would’ve suggested, particularly if the Bulls get their rushing attack back on its feet. I hear Maryland has trouble with that. Of course, the gem here is an under-the-lights, on-FS1 showdown with the Cocaine Ponies and first-year coach Rhett Lashlee – does Maryland’s non-conference dominance of Texas extend to the other programs? I have no idea other than “take the over.
In the Big Ten, I don’t mind the notion that Maryland could trip up a Michigan State at home – if I’m to believe that Taulia really is ready to be a big-time, one-of-the-best-in-the-B1G kind of QB, that’s a kind of game I want to see him win (and, to be clear, I would love to see him beat any of the East powers).
Northwestern’s literally never lost to Maryland in football, though, so that’s an auto-L for the Terps. Sorry, Turtle Folk, rules are rules. Gimme 6-6 (4-5).
RU in VA: Sets Rutgers up nicely for the letdown game after MD thrashes OSU.
Buffkomodo: Did YOU know that Maryland QB Taulia Tagovailoa is the younger brother of former Alabama QB and current Miami Dolphin QB Tua Tagovailoa? I sure wasn’t. I think it’d be an interesting thing to mention on the broadcast!
Let’s face it, Maryland is in a situation much like Indiana and ‘Gers where the best of these 3 will go 6-6, 7-5 and the worst will go 3-9 or 2-10. Having Northwestern and Purdue on the crossover list this year gives the Terps hope. In my opinion, they have coin toss or better odds in 7 of the listed 12 games. Pending injuries and collapses, could be more. I’m going to temper and say 6-6.
misdreavus79: On a more serious note, my heart wants to say 2-10, but my brain knows that the good for nothing *************** in college park are actually going to win more than the two games they deserve, so let’s do our usual exercise:
- Will definitely win (otherwise known as “non-conference games”): Charlotte, SMU, Buffalo
- Will probably win: Rutgers, Northwestern, Indiana
- Will probably lose: Purdue, Michigan State, Penn State
- Will definitely lose: Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin
The two times Maryland has beaten Penn State in Big Ten play have actually come on the road, so they get the benefit of the doubt on that one. They play Purdue and Michigan State at home, so they also get the benefit of doubt in those two. While they only play Indiana on the road in the other list of probables, they don’t actually get to Northwestern and Indiana until mid-to-late October, a time where Maryland is usually too busy falling off a cliff.
So, all that said, if they can avoid falling off a cliff this season, they can reasonably go 8-4. If it’s same ole Maryland, they’ll somehow manage to go 5-7 with this gift of a schedule. So let’s go down the middle again and say 7-5.
In the Big Ten, Maryland finishes...
This poll is closed
6-3 or better
Overall, Maryland goes...
This poll is closed
2-10 or worse
9-3 or better
A Debate, Just Because We Can
Apparently, in Maryland, they might not put Old Bay on everything? You see, there’s a section of the crab people world that uses something called JO instead, with the argument being that “Old Bay is too fine and gets cooked off in the steam.”
Tell me, please...
- Do you have an opinion here (and/or why not), and...
- Give me a similar food debate in your circle that, to most, is a distinction without a difference, but to you REALLY MATTERS, goddamnit.
RU in VA: I live in Loudoun County, VA - pretty much as close as you can be to MD without dealing with their absolutely horrid drivers, but I’ll choose the third option. Old Bay is trash, as is probably JO-whatever (heh). The real king here is a steam with the Zatarains pouches. Pro Boil.
Old Bay : Seasoning :: Tabasco : Hot Sauce
Only basic bitches use old bay for anything. Or tourists in the Inner Harbor.
Larry31: Without even knowing what JO is, I suspect my answer is Old Bay. Put the salt and ketchup down, and reach for old bay for tater tots and French fries. You’re welcome.
Jesse: I have no opinion but I kinda get where they’re coming from. The salt crystal size being what helps “stick” to the crabs seems like a dumb argument but control of salinity might make sense (similar to using like a diamond crystal salt vs table salt on steak) . I don’t dislike Old Bay but I rarely do crab because I’m in a landlocked city away from a source of crab that isn’t sketchy or overly expensive.
The dumbest food prep debate I get into is probably pellet vs hardwood smoking. Texas peeps down here get real weird about it. I use pellet and it works fine. If you use good pellets, it still infused the smokiness of wood early and often. The technical reasons for not doing pellets are mostly dumb reasons. I won’t die on this hill though. I don’t care enough how someone else wants to cook something so long as it all works.
MNW: I’ll be honest – I ask these questions mostly because it’s fun to see the turtley folk get up in arms (come out of their shells?) about something during Maryland Week. (Hi, guys! Hope you’ll stick around!) I’ve probably had Old Bay before, but in no way do I care enough to weigh in.
In the Twin Cities circles, one of those debates is on the Ju(i)cy Lucy–who invented it, whose is better, etc: you’re either a 5-8 Club or Matt’s partisan, and there’s no room for debate, except to acknowledge that Blue Door is the best.
BoilerUp89: I would like to take this moment to mention that they make Old Bay seasoned Goldfish crackers. I do not like seafood so I will not be weighing in on crab preparation methods.