#73 Maryland Football 2016 Preview

Maryland Terrapins
Overall Rank: #73
#12 Big Ten
Like Rutgers, Maryland endured a bad second season in the Big Ten and decided to look to a successful Big Ten program to find their new coach. In this case, the Terrapins picked up DJ Durkin, former Michigan defensive coordinator. Coach Durkin wants to be competitive with defense and solid special teams play, which is a good formula for relative success in a conference like the Big Ten, but that will be easier said than done.
2015 Record: 3-9, 1-7
2015 Bowl: None
Coach: DJ Durkin (0-0 at Maryland, 1-0 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Walt Bell
Defensive Coordinator: Andy Buh
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Perry Hills, QB, 535 yards
Passing: Perry Hills, QB, 1,001 yards
Receiving: Levern Jacobs, WR, 425 yards
Tackles: Jermaine Carter, LB, 103
Sacks: Jesse Aniebonam, DL, 3.5
Interceptions: Jalen Brooks, LB, 2
Other Key Returnees: QB Caleb Rowe, RB Wes Brown, WR D.J. Moore, WR Taivon Jacobs, OL Michael Dunn, DB William Likely
Key Losses: RB Brandon Ross, DL Yannick Ngakoue, DL Quinton Jefferson, DB Sean Davis, DB Anthony Nixon, K Brad Craddock
While Coach Durkin reworks his defense, it is the offense that appears to have a higher upside heading into the 2016 campaign. Maryland ranked 31st in the country and third in the Big Ten in rushing offense and a bigger, stronger offensive line should keep the Terps among the better rushing teams in the conference despite the loss of Brandon Ross. Wes Brown is a workhorse of a back but only saw 71 carries last year. He will likely split time with Ty Johnson and Virginia Tech transfer Trey Edmunds, but Brown is a solid back to build around. At quarterback, both Perry Hills and Caleb Rowe return. The numbers were awful last season with the two combining to throw 14 touchdowns and 28 interceptions and neither completing more than 50 percent of their passes. Hills is the more mobile quarterback, but Rowe has a better arm. It will likely come down to turnovers though and whichever quarterback can avoid interceptions will likely eventually be the starter. Either way, there is some talent at wide receiver for the quarterbacks to work with this year. Last year there were so many questions about the receiving corps, but now most of them are back and the group as a whole did pretty well. Levern Jacobs led the team with 35 receptions for 425 yards and his brother Taivon Jacobs added 21 receptions for 264 yards. D.J. Moore was perhaps the most impressive receiver last year and he was just a freshman.
The new staff should help a defense that allowed 34.4 points per game. But there are plenty of holes to fill, most notably on the line where Yannick Ngakoue needs to be replaced after tallying 13.5 sacks. Roman Braglio and rush linebacker Jesse Aniebonam will need to pick up the slack. At linebacker, Jermaine Carter is a nice piece to build around. He led the Terrapins with 103 tackles and added 14.0 tackles-for-loss. Jalen Brooks will start beside Carter, but finding another linebacker to flank Carter could be an issue. The secondary has a superstar in Will Likely. He is a superb cornerback and an even better return man. The problem is the rest of the starting secondary is gone, leaving lots of questions to be answered. Darnell Savage started one game as a freshman and is the likely candidate to play opposite of Likely. With the new staff, the system as a whole should improve the defense, but it could take quite a bit of time before the results show up on the field.
The Bottom Line:
The Big Ten East is brutal and Maryland will have a tough go of it this season. The non-conference slate is manageable with Howard coming to College Park and trips to Florida International and UCF. After that, wins will be tough to come by, although the Terrapins do get Purdue and Rutgers at home. That could be five wins right there, but four of them have to come in the first four weeks of the season and it remains to be seen if Maryland will be ready to compete right away.
Projected Bowl: None
2015 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 200.7 (31st in nation, 3rd in conference)
Passing Offense: 174.3 (109, 13)
Total Offense: 375.0 (87, 9)
Scoring Offense: 24.7 (95, 10)
Rushing Defense: 162.8 (54, 9)
Pass Defense: 258.4 (103, 11)
Total Defense: 421.2 (90, 11)
Scoring Defense: 34.4 (103, 11)
Turnover Margin: -1.50 (125, 14)
Sacks: 2.92 (13, 3)
Sacks Allowed: 2.08 (65, 9)
Madness 2016 Recruit Rankings:
#79 Terrance Davis
#213 Tino Ellis