Terps Football: Appropriate Expectations If Hill Misses Significant Time?
Saturday was a deflating day on multiple levels for the University of Maryland, as the Terps suffered a 38-10 beating from the University of Central Florida.
Prior to the hiring of DJ Durkin, one of the candidates BSL put forth for the Maryland job was Scott Frost. The former Oregon Offensive Coordinator took over UCF last year, and like Durkin is now in his second season with his new program.
We have respect for Frost, we know there are plenty of athletes in Florida to build a team from, and we know that while the Knights were in rough shape immediately prior to Frost’s arrival; that the program had some real success under former QB Blake Bortles not to long ago.
I don’t think we’re disrespecting UCF to say we feel this is a game MD needed to win. It’s not due to a belief that MD has vastly better talent at this stage, it’s primarily based on the idea that MD beat UCF in Orlando just last year, and this game was at home.
Losing a close game? That might have been acceptable. A 4 TD beating on your home-field? That’s hard to swallow.
(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)
Obviously losing Kasim Hill that early in the game, and having to turn to Maxx Bortenschlager hurt. I would not try to pretend it didn’t. It’s not that Bortenschlager has zero talent. He was a consensus 3 star recruit, and his UM Terps bio says he was also recruited by Vanderbilt, Cincinnati, Louisville, Rutgers, Indiana, Purdue and Minnesota. Clearly some people thought he could play. It’s also clear that if Caleb Henderson had been healthy to start the year, that Bortenschlager would have entered the year as the 4th string QB on this MD team behind Tyrrell Pigrome, Hill, and Henderson.
While Bortenschlager has some ability, and it’s his 2nd year in the program and system; it’s not realistic to ask him to be the equal of Hill. It’s also unacceptable if anyone pins the loss solely on the injury to Hill.
Yesterday was a team loss.
A good example of that, was seeing the Offensive Line get manhandled by the Knights Defensive Line.
I found the play of the O-Line nearly as depressing as that Hill injury. The O-Line is comprised of a lot of highly regarded recruits. While the 2nd string is mostly inexperienced, the starters don’t have that excuse. They are supposed to be highly talented guys, with several of them having the potential to play on Sunday’s. If that’s accurate, at this point in their respective careers – it’s time to produce.
It doesn’t matter who is under Center for MD, if the O-Line doesn’t play to their potential. Their collective performance yesterday was abysmal.
As of now, it’s not clear if Hill is going to be lost for significant time. Given that he couldn’t put any weight on his leg, and needed to be helped off the field; it unfortunately seems like a good bet that he is going to be out for awhile. Maybe it’s just the cynical Maryland fan in me, but I’m already mentally preparing that he will miss next year as well (hyperbole folks).
If Hill does miss real time this year, what becomes the appropriate expectations for Terps Football?
The Remaining Schedule
MD enters Big Ten play 2-1 overall. This was the record pretty much expected for their Out of Conference portion of their schedule, with the difference being that most assumed an L in Austin, and a W at home vs. UCF.
The prevailing thought prior to the year, was that you couldn’t judge the success or failure of this 2017 season on wins and losses alone. It was about development of the roster, being more competitive against the elite teams, and hopefully getting back to a Bowl.
Had MD won yesterday, they’d be going into this week vs. Minnesota in good shape to get back to a Bowl. With the loss, and with losing Hill – it looks like a fight. Plausible, but maybe not overly likely.
@Ohio State (3-1)
Rutgers @ Yankee Stadium (1-3)
@Michigan State (2-1)
Penn State (4-0)
So, in their last eight games, they play one team which currently has a losing record. They face four teams currently in the Top 11 Nationally.
You tell me, what’s realistic?
Even if they had Hill for every game, you’d reasonably have to be expecting L’s vs. Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Penn State. With him, it would be about being competitive in those games.
Ohio State might have issues with their passing attack, Wisconsin might be somewhat limited athletically, Michigan’s offense doesn’t look that imposing, and last night in Iowa showed a blueprint of how to play with Penn State; but each of those four programs are in the Top 11 of the Country and figure to impose their will on the Terps.
With Hill, I would expect MD to beat Indiana and Rutgers, and have reasonable chances of victories vs. Minnesota, Northwestern, and Michigan State.
Bortenschlager is going to have be a lot better than we saw yesterday. My worry is that even if he looks more competent in the passing game, that his inability to be a dual-threat won’t keep defenses honest, and he won’t be the proper fit in Walt Bell’s offense.
Even more than his limitations with his legs, what bothered me yesterday was that Bortenschlager was slow with his decisions. If he’s the starter, he’s got to get the ball out quicker to DJ Moore, Taivon Jacobs, and Jacquille Veii.
Of course, maybe Henderson gets fully healthy and grabs the starting QB spot. It’s worth remembering that had Henderson been healthy over the Spring and Summer; there is a good chance that Henderson would have been MD’s starting QB when the season began in Austin.
Development Of The Roster?
One of my primary concerns if Hill is out for any length of time, is the development of the rest of the roster.
Will the team show up ready to play each week?
Despite having usable weapons, the MD passing attack has been generally anemic for sometime. If Hill is out, is this going to be another year, where the would-be weapons just can’t be utilized. That would be very frustrating to watch.
If MD gets in a position where they can’t do anything with their passing offense, will their ground game be crippled as well? The primary strength of this Terrapins team is their rushing attack. It’s not surprising that yesterday went sideways, once MD wasn’t able to run with any effectiveness.
If Hill is out, you can expect that teams will regularly stack the box until MD shows they can hurt defenses with their passing game.
Impact On Recruiting?
Maryland had a consensus Top 20 recruiting Cass in 2017. Per 247 Sports, MD’s 2018 Class is currently 17th Nationally. If the wheels come off of this season for MD, will the Terps be able to both hold their existing verbals, and finish strong with their class?