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Maryland has an uphill battle, that much is certain. The Terrapins finished 3-9 last year with just one conference win so they brought in D.J. Durkin as new head coach. Durkin comes from being Michigan's defensive coordinator and is joined by Walt Bell (from Arkansas State), who runs a high-tempo offense. Needless to say, the Terps can't be much worse than they were a year ago when Durkin's old team shut out Maryland 28-0.
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The first order of work will be to decide the starting quarterback. Perry Hills and Caleb Rowe split time last year and both are back, but those two will be fighting for the job into August with a few other guys. Last season Rowe and Hill split time with Rowe tossing 15 picks and Hills throwing 13 more. Their 15 TDs to 29 INTs couldn't have been much worse.
To help, the offensive line returns a few faces and should be improved from last year's unit. Michael Dunn and Damian Price run the show with Dunn starting 11 games in 2015 at left tackle. Running back is a bit of a question with Trey Edmunds looking to take over the lead spot, or if Wes Brown can revive his career. At the least, the Terps are set at wide receiver with multiple experienced options that the QB can turn to. Lavern Jacobs (425 yards, 3 TDs) led the way last year with his brother, Taivon, also being a top option to go with D.J. Moore (357 yards).
But even if the offense shows some improvement, the defense probably has a bigger way to go to being a relevant group. The Terrapins were exploited often last year against better offenses and even allowed 41 points at Rutgers in the season finale. The line is going to be a huge question with their best players moving on. To improve, guys like Roman Braglio and Jesse Aniebonam have to be factors.
Jermaine Carter led the defense in tackles a year ago at linebacker and he'll likely be the guy again, although Will Likely takes the title of best player on the team. Likely is a great corner, but offenses can easily focus on the other side of the field if they don't improve in other areas in the secondary. Likely is also a top return man. Durkin brings his defensive chops to the team, and the hope is that this group can be relevant soon.
If anything, Maryland has a favorable schedule to start the season and if all goes well, the Terps could even start the campaign with four-straight wins. The schedule allows it, but it will only happen if they can find a quarterback that doesn't turn it over every other possession. From there, things get a little more difficult, but there are home games in which Maryland can come out on top, such as ones against Minnesota and the finale against Rutgers.
It truly wouldn't be surprising if the Terps came out and won six games this year due to a nice schedule, but easier said than done for Durkin in his first season as head coach.
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2016 Maryland Terrapins Football Schedule
Sept. 3 vs. Howard
Sept 10 vs. Florida International
Sept. 17 at UCF
Oct. 1 vs. Purdue
Oct. 8 at Penn State
Oct. 15 vs. Minnesota
Oct. 22 vs. Michigan State
Oct. 29 at Indiana
Nov. 5 at Michigan
Nov. 12 vs. Ohio State
Nov. 19 at Nebraska
Nov. 26 vs. Rutgers
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