#65 Maryland Football 2017 Preview

Maryland Terrapins
Overall Rank: #65
#10 Big Ten
Coach D.J. Durkin had a very successful debut season with Maryland. The Terrapins ended up 6-7, with three Big Ten wins. That was much better than many expected. Their troubles on defense were certainly exposed in the 36-30 loss to Boston College in the Quick Lane Bowl, but Coach Durkin is bringing in plenty of talent and this team should have more depth across the board in 2017.
2016 Record: 6-7, 3-6
2016 Bowl: Quick Lane Bowl vs. Boston College (L 30-36)
Coach: D.J. Durkin (7-7 at Maryland, 7-7 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Walt Bell
Defensive Coordinator: Andy Buh, Jimmy Brumbaugh
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Ty Johnson, RB, 1,004 yards
Passing: Tyrrell Pigrome, QB, 322 yards
Receiving: D.J. Moore, WR, 637 yards
Tackles: Jermaine Carter, LB, 110
Sacks: Jesse Aniebonam, DE, 9.0
Interceptions: Darnell Savage, S, 1; J.C. Jackson, DB, 1; Jermaine Carter, LB, 1
Other Key Returnees: RB Lorenzo Harrison, LB Shane Cockerille
Key Losses: QB Perry Hills, QB Caleb Rowe, WR Teldrick Morgan, WR Levern Jacobs, OL Michael Dunn, DB Alvin Hill, DL Azubuike Ukandu, DB Will Likely
Quarterback Perry Hills is gone after a decent and efficient senior season. The Terrapins have options though and the expectations are high for North Carolina transfer Caleb Henderson. The 6-3 junior has some experience, a nice arm and a surprising amount of mobility. This will quickly turn into his offense. However, expect Tyrrell Pigrome to find his way on the field too. He threw for 321 yards and ran for 254 more as a freshman last year. Pigrome may not always be under center when he is on the field, but offensive coordinator Walt Bell will want to find ways to get the ball in his hands. Henderson will have a big play receiver in D.J. Moore, who caught 41 passes for 637 yards and six scores, but the rest of the receiving corps is very inexperienced. If he can stay healthy, Taivon Jacobs should be a solid option as well. There are fewer questions at running back where Ty Johnson and Lorenzo Harrison return. Johnson had a breakout sophomore season, surpassing more experienced backs on the depth chart and rushing for 1,004 yards and six scores. Harrison added 633 yards and five trips to the end zone. Behind a very experienced offensive line, the ground game should be in great shape, especially if the passing game is more dangerous with Henderson under center.
The defense is the potential problem area though. The front four needs to be much more consistent. Jesse Aniebonam tallied 9.0 sacks and Kingsley Opara showed what he could last year at one of the defensive tackle spots, but too often it was way too easy to run right up the gut of the Maryland defense. The linebackers have plenty of experience, led by seniors Jermaine Carter and Shane Cockerille who combined for an impressive 218 tackles, 9.0 sacks and 17.0 tackles-for-loss, but they too need to do much better against the run. The hope is the talented recruiting classes from the last two years can at least provide some quality depth to help keep the front seven fresh. Because the secondary only had Will Likely for half the season, a few others did get valuable experience. Now players like JC Jackson and Tino Ellis will have to be ready to emerge as the team’s top cornerbacks. Safeties Darnell Savage and Denzel Conyers have starting experience, but watch out for Marquese Bell. He is one of the freshmen who could do a lot more than just provide depth on defense.
The Bottom Line:
Maryland is getting better, but there is still a long way to go before the Terrapins will be a serious Big Ten contender. With a trip to Texas and another game against UCF, Maryland could start the year out 1-2. If that happens, reaching six wins will be extremely difficult. Even if the record is a step back from 2016, the more important thing will be to remain competitive against the top teams in the conference. Maryland lost three games in a row against Michigan, Ohio State and Nebraska before beating Rutgers in their season finale. The combined score of those three losses was 149-13. Maryland has to start doing better than that.
Projected Bowl: Quick Lane Bowl
2016 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 199.5 (43rd in nation, 4th in conference)
Passing Offense: 178.2 (106, 10)
Total Offense: 377.8 (95, 10)
Scoring Offense: 25.8 (88, 8)
Rushing Defense: 214.8 (99, 11)
Pass Defense: 212.3 (45, 9)
Total Defense: 427.1 (77, 12)
Scoring Defense: 29.5 (74, 11)
Turnover Margin: -0.54 (107, 13)
Sacks: 2.92 (17, 2)
Sacks Allowed: 3.77 (127, 14)
Madness 2018 NFL Draft Rankings:
#55 Damian Prince
Madness 2017 Recruit Rankings:
#125 Kasim Hill
#130 Markquese Bell
#158 Anthony McFarland
#195 Deon Jones