Terps Football: Your Season’s Over. What Now?
After their loss to Rutgers last weekend, the 2017 season is all but over for the Maryland Terrapins. While this season has been a disappointment, it hasn’t been all that surprising after the team lost their best two quarterbacks in the first two weeks of the season. With the Terrapins facing three ranked teams in their final three games of the year, it’ll take nothing short of a miracle for them to become bowl eligible. Therefore, let’s start taking a look at 2018.
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Top-Level Look at 2018
We’ll begin by looking at my projected depth chart for 2018. Obviously this assumes that none of the team’s juniors leave early for the NFL, which is certainly possible for players like DJ Moore and Damian Prince.
* = Freshman
The majority of the newcomers come from the wide receiver and linebacker positions, each of which are losing two starters from the 2017 season. Taivon Jacobs and Jacquille Veii leave two holes at wide receiver, and Jermaine Carter, Jr., Shane Cockerille, and Jalen Brooks combine to leave two holes at linebacker.
As has been the case for a number of years, the strength of next season’s team will be the running game. With a mobile quarterback, a stable full of talented running backs, and a veteran offensive line, fans should be prepared to see even more of Ty Johnson, Lorenzo Harrison, and company.
Defensively, the Terrapins will be forced to replace both of their starting defensive tackles and linebackers from 2017. Since head coach DJ Durkin uses a heavy rotation of defensive linemen, it’s extremely difficult to project who will “start” in any of those roles. Nearly the entire secondary returns for the 2018 season, with strong safety being the only spot with a departing starter.
Finally, the team will feature a new kicker next season as Henry Darmstadter and Adam Greene will both be graduating after the end of 2017. Incoming 3-star freshman Joseph Petrino is one of the better high school kickers available in the 2018 recruiting class, and has a massive leg.
Durkin and his coaching staff elected to redshirt a few players in 2017, primarily on the offensive and defensive lines. With a year of practice and conditioning under their belt, they’ll be ready to make an impact in 2018. Cam Spence and the Gaddy twins will be looking to become members of Durkin’s defensive line rotation, and Anthony McFarland will likely receive plenty of opportunities to touch the ball in the backfield and split out wide. Rayshad Lewis (Ray’s son) will also be looking to make an impact in the slot after sitting out this season due to NCAA transfer regulations.
The Terrapins currently have the 19th-best recruiting class in the country with a few months still to go until National Signing Day. Three local blue-chip linemen anchor the class as Durkin continues to improve the talent in the trenches. The team’s two top remaining targets for the 2018 class are also blue-chip linemen. Building talent on both lines is what takes the most time for a new coaching staff, and it’s the most important element to competing in the Big Ten Conference. While we’re witnessing the emphasis placed on the lines in recruiting, it may still be a few years before we truly see the payoff on the field.
As with any team, turnover amongst the coaching staff is naturally going to occur each off-season. While no one would expect wholesale changes to be made to Durkin’s staff, he could elect to make some small upgrades or additions where he sees fit. Many fans have been critical of defensive coordinator Andy Buh this season, as the defense has looked a bit flat after the Texas game. They’ve been one of the worst third-down defenses in the country, and their pass rush has been dreadful after the Texas game.
If Durkin were to replace Buh, he’d have plenty of choices available in the off-season. Jimmy Brumbaugh is the clear internal option, as he’s currently serving as the co-defensive coordinator. Or the program could look externally to SEC coaches whose bosses could be fired after the season like Bob Shoop (Tennessee), John Chavis (Texas A&M), Dave Aranada (LSU), or Randy Shannon (Florida). However, it’s important to remember that Durkin has his fingerprints all over Maryland’s defense. If he wanted things done differently, Buh would be doing things differently. I wouldn’t put my money on Maryland hiring a new defensive coordinator next season.
While the Terrapins faced the toughest schedule in the country this season, their 2018 schedule is a little more forgiving. They don’t have any FCS opponents on the schedule, and will open the year with a Texas rematch at FedEx Field in Landover, MD before visiting Bowling Green and hosting Temple. The team’s conference schedule is lighter, as they face Illinois, Iowa, and Minnesota as their West Division foes. They’ll play host to Michigan State and Ohio State, and travel to Michigan and Penn State.