If you are a University of Maryland Football fan; Saturday’s in the Fall haven’t been enjoyable for sometime.
The Randy Edsall era was joyless.
DJ Durkin’s tenure started with promise, and ended in flames.
Year 1 of Coach Locksley running the program has been a brutal reminder of the distance between where Maryland currently is, and getting to a destination of respectability.
This 2019 season was a disaster on multiple levels. But with all football discussions everywhere right now, let’s bring it back to Baltimore Ravens QB Lamar Jackson. In a recent Press Conference, Jackson wore a shirt with the message, ‘Nobody Cares, Work Harder.’
It’s the absolute right message for just about everyone, and certainly the Terrapins.
Nobody is coming to save you. Save yourself.
You aren’t where you want to be as a program. Do something about it.
(You can discuss this on the BSL Board here.)
Locksley Isn’t Going Anywhere
The people that supported the Locksley hire are still strong supporters.
The people that questioned the Locksley hire still have doubts.
Maryland isn’t buying him and his staff out, and starting over again with another staff.
It’s not even a discussion worth entertaining. It’s not happening.
In-terms of his coaching ability, his horrible tenure at New Mexico means nothing to me.
His success at Alabama means little to me either.
Locksley is known as a quality recruiter.
He wants to be here. He has the needed local relationships.
I believe Locksley will have success recruiting during the duration of his tenure.
I think he needs to further build out his coaching staff.
There was more than enough talent on this current 2019 roster, that they should have been better (and certainly more competitive) than they have been.
That’s an indictment on the coaching. Bring in some additional coaching talent, and allow Locksley to spend more time on his strengths – recruiting and relationship building.
What Happened This Year?
The chorus from most will be that Maryland lacked talent.
That’s not really true.
If you look at the 247 Sports Team Composite, Maryland entered this year with one of the Top 30 teams in-terms of overall talent (by cumulative recruiting rankings).
Of course recruiting rankings don’t tell the whole picture.
How are those players developed?
What’s the fit?
How hard did they work once getting on campus?
How have multiple scheme and coaching changes impacted the players?
But bottom-line, what the Composite tells you, is that there is talent on this Maryland roster.
More than enough that they shouldn’t be completely over-matched really vs. anyone, and certainly not against teams that aren’t Ohio State.
Penn State, Michigan, Minnesota… all quality teams. No shame in losing those games.
Plenty of shame losing by a combined 149-17 in those games.
Getting run off the field vs. Purdue, and Nebraska?
The players need to look at themselves in the mirror.
For me, the lack of competitiveness this year largely comes down to Josh Jackson, and the Defensive Line.
Maryland’s struggles at QB have been crippling for years.
The Terrapins have not lacked offensive skill talent. And the O-line’s the last few years have had talented guys starting. (Albeit not as much depth as you’d like, and the on-field performance has not matched their recruiting pedigree.)
The hope this year was that Jackson would be good enough to give the Terps a middle of the road Big Ten passing attack. If you had just a mediocre passing game, coupled with the skill MD has at RB, you’d have a play action game, and could sustain drives with some balance.
It just didn’t happen.
At Virginia Tech in 2017, Jackson threw for 3,000 yards and had 20 TDs, while completing 60% of his passes.
He’s completed 48.3% of his attempts this year.
I’m not trying to put all of the blame on him.Certainly willing to acknowledge health, the O-line, and probably his coaching hasn’t helped. That said, there have been numerous times where he’s stood in the pocket clean and just couldn’t connect.
Definitely thought he would be competent, and better than what we’ve seen for years.
Lance LeGendre was a major recruit. Maybe it works out with him? He dislocated his shoulder yesterday, and is done for the year; but he should have every opportunity to win the QB job in 2020.
The Defensive Line has also been a major issue, and I guess we should have realized it was going to be.
Before the season began, Adam McLean left the program, Austin Fontaine moved to the O-Line, Breyon Gaddy moved to the O-Line, and Cam Spence was forced to retire with medical issues.
Each of those guys were highly regarded DTs… and MD got exactly zero production from them (defensively).
That left MD’s defensive Front 7 really exposed. Effectively paper mache all year. I still don’t love the coaching decision to move Fontaine and Gaddy, but at-least Fontaine got some time. I think one of the first things I’d do once this year ends, is move Fontaine and Gaddy back to defense.
Teams are built lines out. Maryland has to continue to recruit both lines.
What Needs To Be Done?
As with anything else, you start with controlling what you can control.
Maryland is trying to compete against programs that have richer histories, more storied pedigrees, and are also significantly out-spending Maryland annually in their investments into their respective programs.
That isn’t going to work.
You can’t erase the histories of Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State.
You can’t snap your fingers and be equals.
But you can’t allow those Universities to drastically out-spend you, and believe you can close the gap.
I know this is somewhat chicken and the egg.
If Maryland was more successful between the lines, the program would generate more money, and there would be more money to invest back into the program.
But you are going to have to rob Peter to pay Paul for awhile.
Maryland needs to find the dollars from somewhere, and close the existing spending gaps.
And someone will retort, “Why should MD divert dollars from elsewhere to an unsuccessful program?” Because you need those dollars to move MD to more equal footing, and give the program a chance to be successful. And if MD Football becomes successful, they will generate money for the University as a whole. And if you don’t invest in MD Football, you’ll become further irrelevant on the field, and the gap will just continue to widen.
In the immediate, the most narrow focus should be on:
– Recruiting, Recruiting, Recruiting. Starting within 2 hours of College Park.
– Build and expand the pipelines particularly with St. Frances, DeMatha, St. John’s, Good Counsel, McDonogh, Mount Saint Joseph’s, Calvert Hall, etc.
– Get some more transfers and grad transfers.
– Build the lines.
– Improve the Coaching staff. Particularly look for coaches who are scheming up lesser talent to compete.
– Bring in some former players, and get them invested in what you are attempting to build. Who wants to get into Coaching?
– Continuing investing in the facilities. Cole Field House, and Maryland Stadium.
– Do what it takes to fill your stadium with Maryland fans, even up-to giving away tickets. You need an actual home-field advantage. You need Maryland fans in the Stadium. The product isn’t good enough currently for you to sell those tickets, so give them away and bring them in. Give them a fantastic tail-gate. Make it fun. As your product improves between the lines, you can give away less. Right now you need to be strategic. Donate to Alumni, Businesses, Schools, etc. Fill it up, and help build experiences, where you have more people who care about what you are trying to build.
Maryland’s 2020 Class is currently 53rd overall in the 247 Sports Team Rankings.
That’s not good enough, but I imagine Locksley will improve that in the weeks prior to Signing Day.
Won’t surprise me if he finishes with a class ranked in the 30s.
That’s a lot off talent within a relatively close distance to College Park.
Get your share of the DMV to UMD and build.
Maryland has 3 players committed so far in 2021. Obviously we’re a long way off from those verbals mattering, but you need to build momentum. You need the locals to look around and say, “We can build something special together.”
And Lastly To Reiterate
When this 2019 season mercifully ends Saturday (Nov. 30th) at Michigan State, the countdown to the 2020 season opener vs. Towson (September 5th) begins.
Nobody cares about the issues Maryland Football faces. Work harder.
Chris Stoner founded Baltimore Sports and Life in 2009. He has appeared as a radio guest with 1090 WBAL, 105.7 The Fan, CBS 1300, Q1370, WOYK 1350, WKAV 1400, and WNST 1570. He has also been interviewed by The Baltimore Sun, Baltimore Business Journal, and PressBox (TV). As Owner, his responsibilities include serving as the Managing Editor, Publicist, & Sales Director.