Maryland got out to a fine start last season with wins at Texas and Minnesota, but those good feelings dissipated as the Terps lost seven of their final eight. They ended the year with a 66-3 loss at home to Penn State with multiple quarterbacks still months away from returning from injury. In DJ Durkin’s third season, more is expected from this group, especially with the hope new offensive coordinator Matt Canada can revive the offense. With the Big Ten East top-heavy, the Terps had terrible spring odds (at 5Dimes Sportsbook), and are expected to battle Indiana and Rutgers in the basement.
Canada is a popular OC, but he’s only been at his previous stops (Pitt, LSU) for single seasons and with the expected starting quarterbacks hurt in the spring, it won’t be easy to learn a new offense. Those QBs are Kasim Hill and Tyrrell Pigrome, both of whom are returning from torn ACLs and won’t be available until the summer. Max Bortenschlager remains the de facto starting quarterback after completing 51.9% of his passes for 10 TDs and 5 INTs last season. The offense has to improve, there’s no way around it after averaging only 24.1 points and 323 yards per Game. The Terps lost top wide out D.J. Moore, which means Taivon Jacobs (553 yards, 5 TDs) and someone else has to step up in the receiving Game with DJ Turner (five receptions) receiving the most spring hype. At the least, the ground Game should be just as dynamic with Ty Johnson (875 yards) and Lorenzo Harrison (622 yards) leading the way with Jake Funk and Anthony McFarland also expected to see time in this new system. The offensive line isn’t dominant, but has five returning starters so the experience is there even if there are injuries.
It’s a similar question on the defensive side where Maryland allowed 37.1 points per Game. The Terps had no pass rush last season and that’s an area that needs to improve. Jesse Aniebonam returns from a broken ankle and a lot is expected from Auburn transfer Byron Cowart, who had a great spring Game. More transfers are expected to make a difference on the back end with linebacker Tre Watson (Illinois) and cornerback Marcus Lewis (Florida State) the biggest names. Lewis had a pick-6 in the spring Game and he could become the team’s shutdown corner. This was still a group that was exploited by any decent offense last season so improvement has to be made.
The Terps get things started with another Game against Texas and a win would be huge in their hopes of reaching a bowl Game. And just like last year, they could be set for three or Four wins in September due to a favorable Schedule. But to reach a bowl, Maryland has to stay healthy and win Games later in the season. That means home Games against Rutgers and Illinois. Those first Four Games and then those two home contests could equal six wins, but the Longhorns are favored by double-digits in the opener for a reason. A good projection is five wins and anything more would mean they figured out quarterback and either Pigrome or Hill made a difference.
2018 Maryland Terrapins Football Schedule
Sept. 1 vs. Texas (FedEx Field, LAndover)
Sept. 8 at Bowling Green
Sept. 15 vs. Temple
Sept. 22 vs. Minnesota
Oct. 6 at Michigan
Oct. 13 vs. Rutgers
Oct. 20 at Iowa
Oct. 27 vs. Illinois
Nov. 3 vs. Michigan State
Nov. 10 at Indiana
Nov. 17 vs. Ohio State
Nov. 24 at Penn State