Head Coach: DJ Durkin
2015 Record: 3-9
2015 Bowl: N/A
2016 Returning Starters: 7 Offense, 5 Defense
Odds to win 2017 Championship Game: +300000
Odds to win 2016 Big Ten Championship: +25000
Regular Season over/under: over 5 (-125), under 5 (+105)
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The Maryland Terrapins finished 3-9 last season and will begin the season with a new QB in Perry Hills. Hills started eight games for Maryland in 2015, and he threw for 1,001 yards and eight TDs while also rushing for 535 yards, the fourth-highest mark by a Maryland QB in a season. He rushed or 170 yards against Ohio State last season and he has started 15 games in his NCAA career.
DJ Durkin said of Hills, “After an open competition through spring and the first two-plus weeks of training camp, we’re excited to move forward with (him) as our starting quarterback.” It solved a big question for the Terrapins who were considering four guys for the job, but must improve on its pass game from last season.
Maryland averaged just 174.3 yards per game passing last season, ranking No. 109 in the nation. The rush game was good with 200.7 yards per game, ranking No. 31, but more balance is needed from the Terrapins.
The RB position also has a big of a logjam. Wes Brown is returning, but will likely be just one part of a by-committee approach. Sophomore Ty Johnson and Virginia Tech transfer Trey Edmonds both are solid options who will carry the ball plenty, and Johnson has break-away speed.
The WR corp is deep with D.J. Moore, Levern Jacobs, Taivon Jacobs and Avery Edwards. Senior WR Malcolm Culmer is also returning and should start.
The OL was better last season and helped the Terrapins rush attack a lot. Damian Prince, Michael Dunn and Mike Minter all return to ensure that Maryland can create holes for its talented backs.
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The Terrapins will institute an aggressive 3-4 scheme this season and All-Big Ten CB Will Likely and MLB Jermaine Carter Jr. will be the key players in it. The defense was much stronger in the spring game when it recorded 12 sacks, four of which came from E Roman Braglio. Maryland blitzed from all over the field, and the corners are going to be instrumental in its attacking defense.
Carter is the fifth-leading returning tackler in the Big Ten, and he will benefit from having a lot of other experienced starters around him in Jalen Brooks and Abner Logan, flanking him. QB-turned-FB Shane Cockerille will be a key to the defense, and Josh Woods looked good at S in the spring.
True freshman DL Adam McLean has a lot of expectations on him, but he should be a key fixture on the middle of the line. McLean is something of an x-factor in this defense, and Maryland has improvements to make. In 2015, the Terrapins allowed 34.4 points and 421.2 yards per game, ranking No. 103 and No. 90 in the nation.
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Adam Greene hit all 11 PATs and was 3 of 5 on FGA after Brad Craddock got hurt at K. Wade Lees will handle punting, and he is a rugby-style punter. Likely is an All-American return man and averaged 17.7 yards per punt return and 22.5 yards per kickoff return.
Maryland opens the season at home against Howard on Sept. 3 but travels to face FIU and UCF in Weeks 2 and 3. After a likely 3-0 start it will begin conference play at home against Purdue on Oct. 1. Michigan State (Oct 22) and Ohio State (Nov 12) are both home games this season, and Michigan is an away game (Nov 5).
Durkin still has a lot of work to do in remaking this disaster program that he inherited last fall. Maryland has gone 7-6 twice in the past five seasons, and those were the high water points. Durkin will need to hit the recruiting trail to really put his stamp on this program, if it can be rebuilt in any short period of time.
Prediction: 5 wins
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