Thanks to larry31, as always, for regaling us with his Maryland Terrapins takes! —mnw
I. Case History/Opening Statement
A. Case History
What to know about Maryland in 2021? Improvement. Finished the regular season 7-5, and then mollywhopped an undermanned Viginia Tech team 54-10 in the Pinstripe Bowl. Maryland’s defense and special teams were horrible, finishing 104 out of 130 teams in FEI defense. Special teams was even worse, finishing 120/130. Thanks, Zooker. But offense, for whatever it’s worth, finished 39th.
What do you get when 2/3 elements of a football team suck ass? King of the dipshits. That’s what.
Maryland generally beat bad teams and lost decsively to good teams (OSU, UM, and just looked lost and feeble against Iowa). The Terps beat a few bowl teams (Kent State, West Virginia, and Rutgers—do we count this? [ed. note: No.], and they played Penn State competitively: tied 14-14 early in the 4th quarter before things unraveled.
B. Opening Statement
What to expect? More improvement. Offense is returning all five linemen, QB and has the 2nd best WR group in the B1G, behind Ohio State. Maryland may have a top-10 offense.
Defense will be improved, but the question is how much? MD let a horrible Indiana offense (112/130 in FEI) score 35 points! Locks had seen enough and essentially fired Brian Stewart as DC, letting Brian Williams call the defense against equally bad Rutgers and VaTech offenses.
The difference? Rutgers only scored 16 points on the Terps and Va Tech only scored 10 points. Brian Williams has been promoted to DC and Brian Stewart is gone.
Special teams will also be improved because of two critical developments. The Zooker is no longer the special teams coach. He gone. Yay!
And Maryland brought in Chad Ryland from Eastern Michigan. He regularly boots kickoffs out of the end zone and is accurate from 40 yards on field goals. So, even if Zooker’s replacement also sucks, at least the Terps won’t give up so many crucial long kick off returns—they’ll be un-returnable. The additional field goals that MD will make this year but couldn’t last year will definitely help keep things closer against good teams.
A. Evidence Already Presented
Maryland men’s lacrosse is the equivalent of Alabama in football, perhaps even better? They have been to the last 7 out of 8 Final Fours, winning it all in 2017 and 2022.
It’s a Maryland article. I am contractually obligated to mention lacrosse in any Maryland article I write.
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Podcast: Can Maryland Take A Step Forward, Or Is This As Good As It Gets?
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Ed. note: We’re always deeply indebted to Larry for these drop-ins, but we’d love to add more Maryland coverage! If you’re interested in doing a little Maryland blogging, do at least one of these two things:
(1) Email me at minnesotawildcat at gmail dot com, and
(2) Write a Fanpost on a Maryland—preferably football—topic of your choosing! Note that we always prefer things written in the voice of the fan, not the voice of the local newspaper covering a football game out of obligation.
B. What We Can Learn From Pop Culture
Maryland athletics, in general, is the Forrest Gump of college football.
Remember Forrest? Dumber than a bag of hammers. But, he got that scholly to Bama because he ran fast. He became a ping pong champ. And then he made Oprah bucks when all the shrimping boats were destroyed except for his. Also, I think he somehow ended up with stock in Apple. Dude’s severely limited mental acuity was steamrolled by good fortune.
Maryland’s previous athletic director, Debbie Yow left the program in dire financial straits. The move to the B1G in 2014 was divisive. A lot of MD fans were obsessed with playing Duke and North Carolina in basketball and didn’t want to leave. Most, though, viewed it as a financial necessity. With the addition of UCLA, USC (and probably ND, Stanford and Oregon) and the B1G’s $7 billion TV deal combined with the obvious forthcoming demise of the ACC—especially when FSU and Clemson depart for the SEC—Maryland absolutely stumbled into good fortune like Forrest.
This analogy also applies to Rutgers. Their former conference doesn’t even do football anymore. [ed. note: to be fair, neither does Rutgers]
A pop culture reference for the football team. Eh. I don’t have much. The 2022 Orioles, I guess. Used to totally suck. Now a pretty good and very fun to watch, but they still can’t compete with the elite teams.
III. Schedule of Events
Buffalo is a good tune up game. Decent, but the Terps should definitely win. At Charlotte is kind of a head-scratcher. SMU is a kind of cool out-of-left-field opponent.
Rutgers will be improved, but are still behind Maryland in talent. Their O-line is iffy. Indiana’s offense is run by Walt Bell. Dude sucks. (I originally wrote dude as dud by accident, how appropriate.) IU’s offense will hurt your eyes or make you laugh. Lots of 3-and-outs that will take less than a minute off the clock which will leave IU’s defense with nothing left by the 4th quarter.
IV. Emotional Plea
In 2020 IU just totally took everyone by surprise on their way to only one loss (to Ohio State by only 7 points). See? Perennially sucky teams can actually have success in the B1G East. Last year it was Michigan State that took everyone (including me) by surprise.
It’s Maryland’s turn, dammit!
Maryland’s WR are nasty: Jeshaun Jones, Dontay Demus, Rakim Jarrett, and Florida transfer Jacob Copeland. Some people see Jeshaun Jones as the most dynamic of all of them. Unfortunately, he has a habit of getting called on 15-yard penalties for taking cheap shots at people. For better or worse, he’ll get attention. It also sounds like Taulia has been continuing to improve.
Kicker Chad Ryland is someone to watch.
There is some decent talent on defense, but drastic improvement could occur and that would leave the Terps with only an average defense. (They could surpass 40 teams, improving their defensive ranking from 104 to 64, to literally reach the exact middle of the pack.) That’s the best Maryland could hope for on defense. Maryland has a freshmen LB, Jaishawn Barham who is a beast. IF he learns the mental side on reading offenses and anticipating the action, he could be a breakout player. Apparently, he is a heavy hitter and will deliver some brutal hits, even if he flutters in pass coverage on a regular basis.
WINS: Buffalo, at Charlotte, SMU, Purdue (it’s a home game for MD), IU, NW, and Rutgers gets us to 7 wins and bowl eligibility, again.
LOSSES: at Michigan, at Wisconsin, Ohio State - 3 definite losses
Favored to lose, but have a chance at winning - MSU, at Penn State.
Probably both losses, but there is a genuine possibility of winning. This depends on how much that sucky defense has improved. Also, I think these two teams have genuine flaws, so Maryland has a shot at an upset.
7-5 most likely. 8-4 more likely than 6-6, but either are also possibilities.
In the Big Ten, Maryland goes...
This poll is closed
6-3 or better
Overall, Maryland finishes...
This poll is closed
4-8 or worse
9-3 or better